By Andres Luevano, Clarion Sports Editor
After 18 weeks of regular-season games, the NFC’s side of the playoff bracket was set. With a NFC best 13-4 record, the Green Bay Packers would avoid playing in the Wild card round meaning they get a week off from playing.
Playoffs on the NFC’s side of the bracket began on Sunday with the 2nd seeded Tampa Bay Buccaneers taking on the 7th seed Philadelphia Eagles. The Buccaneers, led by Tom Brady, are the defending Super Bowl champions. The Eagles, led by 1st year starting quarterback Jalen Hurts, came in on fire winning 6 of their last 8 regular season games, snatching the final playoff spot in the NFC.
The Bucs received the opening kickoff and started off scoring a rushing touchdown in 5 minutes. The Eagles struggled to move the ball throughout the first quarter, which eventually led to Tampa taking a 14-0 lead off another rushing touchdown.
The Tampa Bay defense would be too much for the Eagles to overcome. Hurts threw 2 interceptions and ended with a completion percentage of 53 percent. Brady easily handled the Eagles defense throwing for 2 touchdown passes and ended with a completion percentage of 78. Tampa moves onto the Divisional round next week where they will be playing at home.
Next up the 6th seed San Francisco 49ers playing away versus the 3 seeded Dallas Cowboys, a rivalry that was heated during the 1980s and 90s with both teams playing 7 times in the NFC Championship game to decide who would go to the SuperBowl, had remained dormant for all of the 2000s and 2010s, in fact these two rivals haven’t played against each other in a playoff game since 1994.
San Francisco would take an early 7-0 lead after they scored a 4 yard rushing touchdown. The first half would be dominated by the 49ers who would lead 16-7, with the Cowboys only score coming from an Amari Cooper touchdown pass.
Through 3 quarters the game would remain the same. Quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys Dak Prescott would throw an interception which then led to a thunderous 26 yard rushing touchdown by 49ers ALL Pro receiver Deebo Samuel.
The game would get interesting in the 4th quarter after a Jimmy Garoppolo interception gave Dallas an opening which they would take an advantage of, scoring a touchdown which cut the Niners lead to 23-16.
Dallas would have 1 last opportunity to score a touchdown until Dak Prescott ran a quarterback sneak which would run the clock out giving the 49ers the upset victory, and moving them onto play the Green Bay Packers.
The Final NFC Wild Card weekend game would be played between two division rivals in the 4th seed Los Angeles Rams and the 5th seeded Arizona Cardinals.
Not much came out of this game as Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray would throw 2 interceptions with 1 of them being returned for a touchdown. Murray would also get sacked twice, and get hit 4 times throughout the game. This game would be disappointing for Cardinals fans who have waited 6 years for their team to return to the postseason.
The Rams would cruise to a 34-11 win over Arizona, putting them up against the defending SuperBowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.