The NFL’s Wild Card Weekend got off to a cracking start yesterday.
To be sure, there was the usual assortment of officiating boondoggles and inexplicable calls and non-calls, but at least the first two games were entertaining.
In the first, the Tennessee Titans came back from a 21 – 3 first-half deficit against the Kansas City Chiefs in Kansas City to post a remarkable comeback and win the game by the score of 22 – 21.
The most thrilling play of the game, perhaps of the season, when Titans’ quarterback Marcus Mariota threw a touchdown pass to himself. It was the second time in NFL history that such a thing has happened.
The Titans took the ball the length of the field to start the third quarter. Kansas City seemed to have them stopped at the goal line, when Mariota attempted to throw into the end zone, only to have the ball batted down by Chiefs’ cornerback Darrelle Revis.
Unfortunately for the Chiefs, however, rather than fall harmlessly to the ground or be intercepted, it bounced back to Mariota, who dove into the end zone for a touchdown.
In the second game, The Atlanta Falcons defeated the Los Angeles Rams 26 – 13, in a game that was closer than the score suggests.
The Rams were one of the more compelling storylines in the NFL this past season, making vast improvements over the year prior, but in this year’s NFC wildcard game, their inexperience proved their undoing, while on the other side of the ball, Atlanta had veterans who were well acquainted with the differences between regular season and playoff football.
The Falcons’ defense thwarted the Rams’ league-leading offense, shutting down third-year quarterback Jared Goff and the entire Rams’ offense, including running back Todd Gurley, who managed to go over 100 yards rushing, but most of those yards came in the middle of the field and did not affect the scoring.