By Anthony McClean, Editor-In-Chief Emeritus
The first weekend of the NFL’s postseason was expanded with extra teams this year. Two days of tripleheaders added a pair of extra games to the party. In the long run, we saw a couple of road dogs take some big steps.
Let’s take a look back at the action.
Russell Wilson, Seattle (Loss vs. L.A. Rams)
The inconsistencies on both sides of the line finally came to a head for Seattle and No. 3 on Saturday as the division rival Rams dismissed the Seahawks. The Rams finished the regular season allowing the fewest points, yards and passing yards in the NFL, and that top-ranked defense made things difficult for the Seahawks all afternoon long. By the time the dust had settled, the Seahawks managed only 278 yards and 11 first downs, and were just 2 for 14 on third down. Wilson, meanwhile, was 11 for 27 for 174 yards, two touchdowns and the pick-six, and he was sacked five times, giving the Rams 16 sacks in three games against Seattle this year. This also included a costly interception that all but sealed Seattle’s fate. It was the Seahawks’ fifth game this season with multiple turnovers, and they lost every one of them. Up next for the Rams: a date at the “frozen tundra” of Lambeau Field on Saturday afternoon.
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore (Win at Tennessee)
A third time turned out to be a charm for the former Heisman Trophy winner as the Ravens exacted revenge from last year’s home loss to the Titans. Down 10-0, Baltimore was able to not only overcome the deficit, but they would also dominate the second half along the way to the victory. LJ has broken numerous records in his young NFL career. He won the NFL MVP in his second season. He had won 30 games and lost just seven. But he had never won in the playoffs. Oh-and-two. It was a stat that hung over Jackson’s head until Sunday afternoon. Jackson threw for 179 yards and ran for another 136 in a gutsy effort against a Titans defense hell-bent on stopping him. He made the biggest plays when it mattered most including a 49-yard run that tied the game in the second quarter. Coach Harbaugh notched his eighth career postseason victory Sunday with Baltimore’s 20-13 win over the Tennessee Titans. He is now the NFL’s all-time leader in road playoff victories by a head coach, surpassing Hall of Fame coach Tom Landry and Tom Coughlin, who each had seven road playoff wins. He can add to that total with a win at Buffalo Saturday night.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Since Lamar Jackson joined the Ravens in 2018, they are a combined 16-3 on the road during the regular season and postseason when Jackson starts. Sunday’s victory was particularly satisfying because it was Jackson’s first playoff win, and Baltimore’s first playoff victory since 2014.
Anthony McClean can be reached via email at email@example.com.