The NFL Divisional Round of the 2013 playoffs was one of the most exciting football weekends in recent memory.
Each of the four games were high scoring and exciting, with the Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens needs two overtimes to finally decide who would advance to the AFC Championships game. It was one of the longest games in NFL postseason history and one of the craziest. With the Broncos holding a one-score lead late in the game, the Ravens were able to score a deep touchdown to tie the game before winning it on a Justin Tucker kick in double overtime.
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The Seahawks erased a 27-7 deficit to take the lead against the Falcons before losing on a kick at the end of the game, while Colin Kaepernick had a coming out party against the Packers as the 49ers advanced to the NFC Championship game for the second straight season. The Patriots were dominant once again over the Houston Texans to advance to the championship game against the Ravens for the second year in a row.
The offensive explosion this weekend was even more amazing considering the averages in the NFL this year. Thanks to Peter King at SI.com, here is a look at the NFL averages this season and how it compares to this past weekend.
According to Mr. King, the average game featured 45.6 points and 694.4 yards of offense. Here are the stat lines for the four weekend games:
-Baltimore 38, Denver 35: 73 points, 877 yards.
-San Francisco 45, Green Bay 31: 76 points, 931 yards.
-Atlanta 30, Seattle 28: 58 points, 908 yards.
-New England 41, Houston 28: 69 points, 877 yards.
There might not be another NFL weekend quite like this ever again. Here is a look at some of the players who made it happen and how they did it.
Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers
It appears as if the running quarterback and the spread option are here to stay in the NFL. For anyone that derides the system of using a running quarterback just needs to watch the game film of Kaepernick against the Green Bay Packers.
The second-year pro out of Nevada was simply amazing on Saturday night, throwing for 263 yards and two touchdowns while also adding 181 yards rushing and two scores on the ground. Kaepernick set an NFL record for quarterbacks rushing in any game, playoffs or regular-season, and put the entore NFL on notice that he is a quarterback to be reckoned with.
Kaepernick really got things going when he went untouched on a 56-yard touchdown in the third quarter, which put the 49ers up 31-24. The game finished 45-31 and while the Packers kept it close for most of the contest, they just simply could not keep up with Kaepernick.
49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh took a lot of flak from people around the league for going with Kaepernick over established starter Alex Smith, but after the Packers game he looks like a genius, even if he is a mad genius. No team has switched starters in mid-season and won the Super Bowl since Tom Brady took over for Drew Bledsoe. Kaepernick just might get the chance to do the same thing to Brady and the Patriots if they can advance past the Falcons next week.
Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Over the past decade, if the Patriots win a game, it is usually due to the play of Tom Brady. The team defeated the Houston Texans 41-28 on Sunday to advance in the NFL playoffs and a large part of that was due to Mr. Gisele.
Brady was nearly perfect against the Texans, throwing for 344 yards and three touchdowns with zero interceptions while completing 25-of-40 passes. He was only sacked once and made literally every play he needed to, including a beautiful spiral deep ball to Wes Welker down the left sidelines.
By winning the game Brady set a record for playoff wins as a quarterback with 17, breaking his idol Joe Montana's previous record. Brady could tie Montana for another record this year if he wins his fourth Super Bowl.
"I grew up a 49ers fan," Brady said after throwing for three touchdowns in the AFC divisional playoff. "Joe Montana and Steve Young ... those guys are in another class. I hope I am around for a few more years," the 35-year-old Brady added with a smile.
Brady now has 41 career touchdown passes in the playoffs, which only sits behind Brett Favre (44) and Montana (45). The Patriots dealt with injuries to two key players in tight end Rob Gronkowski (reinjured left arm) and RB Danny Woodhead (thumb) in the first quarter, but Brady never let it bother him. He instead completed passes to five other receivers and protected the ball all night.
Brady will now face off against a Ravens team that had the Patriots beat last season before dropping a winning touchdown in the endzone and missing a game-tying field goal as time expired in the AFC championship.
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Wilson was one of the most dynamic players in the NFL this season and was one of the main reasons why the Seahawks had a chance to win on Sunday against the Falcons.
Faced with a 27-7 deficit entering the fourth quarter, Wilson made play after play to bring the team back, including a 1-yard run to score a touchdown on the first drive of the quarter as well as a perfect pass to Zach Miller in the end zone to cut the lead to 27-21.
During the game Wilson went 24-of-36 for 385 yards and two touchdowns and one interception, while also leading the team in rushing with 60 yards on seven carries and one score. Even his interception wasn't "real", as it came on a desperation pass at the end of the game.
"We had high, high hopes for the rest of the season," Wilson said to the Associated Press. "When the game was over, I was very disappointed. But walking back into the tunnel, I got so excited about next year. The resilience we showed was unbelievable."
Wilson was accurate all day and showed by Carroll picked him to be the starter in training camp despite signing Matt Flynn to a large contract. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Seahawks are just the sixth team in the Super Bowl era to score 21 fourth-quarter points in a playoff game to take the lead, only to lose the game, joining themselves in 2010 against the Bears and the Packers from 2009 as the most recent two teams to do it.
The rookie was stellar all season, making plays with both his arm and his legs while throwing for 3,118 yards and 26 touchdown passes. He also ranked second on the team in rushing with 489 yards and four touchdowns and is the main reason why the Seahawks can win the Super Bowl next year.