A play by play of NFL playoffs

Eagles and Patriots face each other in Super Bowl LII

Written by Ben Bauer, Sports Editor and Student Journalist

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The National Football League this regular season has been a full display of parity. It’s one of the things that keeps us football fans interested. The playoffs are just as unique because everyone is curious which teams will stand out. In the playoffs we have the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, Tennessee Titans, and Buffalo Bills from the AFC. We also have the Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, Los Angeles Rams, Carolina Panthers, and the Atlanta Falcons from the NFC. We are down to two teams competing for this year’s Super Bowl: the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Wild Card round, the first weekend of playoff games, consisted of the Jaguars playing against the Bills (Jaguars win 10-3), the Chiefs playing against the Titans (Titans win 22-21), the Panthers playing against the Saints (Saints win 31-26), and the Rams playing against the Falcons (Falcons win 26-13).

The Jaguars and Bills contest was a defensive slug fest. The Bills’ playoffs ended abruptly, but for a fan base it was exciting for their first playoff game since 1999.

The Titans, as an underdog, came back from a large halftime deficit which involved Touchdown pass thrown to quarterback Marcus Mariota.

The Panthers and Saints was the most high scoring of that weekend. This was the third time this season the Panthers lost to the Saints, no doubt fueling this divisional rivalry.

The Rams Falcons’ game was going to be a challenge for the Rams because the Falcons lost in the Superbowl last season, proof that they can be a deadly playoff team. In the end, however, the Rams were not able to hold off the Falcons. The wildcard round had its share of upsets, but the teams were beginning to show that they were serious.

The divisional round always generates a lot of buzz because the teams that had byes start playing. The Eagles, Vikings, Patriots, and Steelers will all play their first game. Many of these teams are considered to be title favorites. The first game was between the Falcons and the Eagles. The Eagles, who lost their starting quarterback and MVP favorite Carson Wentz, were a massive underdog. Despite this, the Eagles manage to pick up a win. With a final score of 15-10, the Eagles’ defense and well gameplanned offense did just enough to beat the Falcons.

Next, the Patriots downed the Titans. The Titans’ second year running back Derrick Henry just came off a great playoff performance and would become a key to their offense. The Patriots had other plans and completely silenced the run, along with a playoff franchise record of eight sacks. They punished the Titans on both sides of the ball for a win 35-14.

The Jaguars and the Steelers were next. The Jaguars who were the three seed still did not have the respect of the outside world. However, the Steelers were consumed with a rematch with the Patriots who won a close game in the regular season. Screaming out of the gate, the Jaguars’ offense and defense clicked and punished the Steelers. The Steelers eventually leaned on their playmakers Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant for big plays but fell short in the end with a final score of Jaguars 45 and Steelers 42.

The last game of the weekend was between the Vikings and the Saints. The Vikings suffocated the Saints with stingy defense and a hot offense. However, despite trailing 17-0 at halftime, the Saints roared back, which was led by future Hall of Fame athlete Drew Brees. With clutch plays coming from both sides, the Vikings found themselves down and needing a miracle with limited time remaining. The Vikings’ quarterback, Case Keenum, threw a well-placed outside ball to Stegon Digs who dodged a low tackle from Marcus Williams. Digs then proceeded to run in untouched for the game, winning a walk-off touchdown.

The conference championships were set: a showdown between the Patriots and the Jaguars in the AFC, and the Vikings dueling with the resilient Eagles in the NFC.

The Jaguars have an offensive resurgence with quarterback Blake Bortles’ surprisingly good play. Meanwhile, the Patriots have just made their seventh straight AFC championship game, an unprecedented level of sustained success. The Jaguars jumped out of the gate and controlled the game’s tempo with smart play call and a strong defense. With a halftime score of 14-10, the Patriots were not looking as dominant and seemed to be in trouble. After two field goals, the score was 20-10 with the Jaguars leading the Patriots entering the fourth quarter.

After marching three straight drives, one ending in a fumble and the others ending in touchdowns, the Patriots pulled ahead and held on to win 24-20.

The Vikings are playing for the rare opportunity of home field advantage in a Superbowl, along with the chance to rewrite history for a franchise often plagued by bad luck.

The Eagles are also trying to rewrite history by winning their franchise’s first Super Bowl. Channeled by the infamous underdog masks worn by fans and some players, the Eagles are ready to prove they can overcome everything. The Vikings drew first blood and led 7-0, but a timely pick six of Vikings quarterback Case Keenum changed the momentum entirely. The Eagles then leaned on deep balls to wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. The Eagles finished the game with a dominating victory 38-7 against the Vikings in what might have been the biggest upset of the playoffs.

The stage for the Super Bowl LII is set for Sunday, February 4th. In a battle of new versus old, the Eagles and the Patriots rose above the rest of the NFL to cement themselves as title contenders.

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A play by play of NFL playoffs