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NFL playoffs: What we discovered from the wild card video games

Blowouts within the NFL playoffs are uncommon. Within the absence of an enormous star harm, groups are too good, too targeted, and have too many yards of movie on their opponents at this level to be overwhelmed or stunned by an impressive efficiency.

That has not been the case to this point within the wild card spherical, the place the Buffalo Payments defeated the New England Patriots 47-17 on Saturday evening and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 31-15 on Sunday afternoon. The expanded postseason subject doesn’t mean a lot of a distinction within the evening recreation between Kansas Metropolis and the Pittsburgh Steelers, whose quarterback admitted “we do not stand an opportunity” earlier this week.

There is not any better narrative to encapsulate such unbalanced outcomes, and it is tempting to surprise if there was really something to be discovered from this yr’s wildcard weekend.

There was.

Studying that Leonard Fournette, out there for Sunday’s recreation, wouldn’t have a lead, Tampa Bay was already enjoying with out receivers Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown, two of Tom Brady’s favourite targets. Nonetheless, the sport could not have been stylistically raised higher for the Buccaneers’ offense.

The Eagles lack the top-end expertise to create massive defensive performs that rank within the backside 10 in sacks, tackles for loss and damaged passes. Their soft-zone protection and incapability to use a lot strain gave the best quarterback to ever “take what the protection provides” an excessive amount of room to dunk and dunk his means by way of the sphere. Brady completed the event with a sweat-free 29-of-37 efficiency, together with two touchdowns.

Philadelphia led the league in dashing yards per recreation, however no group within the 2021 common season threw the ball much less usually, and threats from quarterback Jalen Hurts or one of many Eagles’ backs weren’t sufficient to create alleys in opposition to a choked-up protection the big mixture of Vita Vea and Ndamukong Suh within the inside.

Groups know higher than to face Tampa Bay: The Buccaneers noticed the fewest dashing makes an attempt of any group this season however have been nonetheless within the prime 10 in tackles for loss, outstanding effectivity for a entrance seven.

The Eagles’ solely power contributed to a buzzsaw-like efficiency from the Buccaneers’ protection. Hurts led all Eagles rushers with 39 yards, and a 34-yard garbage-time landing by Boston Scott topped the earlier common of three.8 yards per carry group.

Worse, Philadelphia did not capitalize on their opponent’s most obvious weak spot. Key losses have dogged Tampa Bay’s secondary all season, forcing defensive coordinator Todd Bowles to attempt cornerback Richard Sherman as soon as as security. In his sophomore season, Hurts had been working exhausting to enhance his passing expertise, however some key errors from receivers that grazed on the seams price his group a possibility to achieve massive yards.

Within the second half, Damage’s indecisiveness gave edge rushers Shaq Barrett and Joe Tryon-Shoyinka time to flush him out of the pocket and power him to try to push up passes on the touchline. Hurts was intercepted twice, as soon as earlier than halftime with a game-changing decide when DeVonta Smith broke open with a double pull earlier than security Mike Edwards undercut a low and late throw.

Sunday’s contest was over in three possessions, with Tampa Bay scoring fast touchdowns from backups Giovani Bernard and Ke’Shawn Vaughn in two of its three possessions. Ryan Succop’s 34-yard subject aim within the second quarter made it 17-0, ending an 11-play drive that took Brady little effort.

Whereas it was spectacular to see a quarterback in his mid-40s pacing up and down within the postseason, Sunday’s wildcard win did not present any tangible solutions as as to whether Tampa Bay is supplied to raised defend its throne in opposition to the NFL groups, solely that the group is sensible sufficient to attempt.

Rob Gronkowski nonetheless has among the finest fingers in soccer, however he is misplaced a step and a half, making Godwin’s harm and Brown’s exit stand out in apparent passing conditions. The Eagles’ defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon introduced on a number of strobes within the second half and performed zone protection behind, and Tampa Bay’s backup receivers could not discover the open home windows in downfield the place that vertical passing play thrives.

Darius Slay and Steven Nelson could not hold Mike Evans (117 yards, one landing) unaided excessive, however the few occasions Philadelphia did man-mark, there weren’t many different shops for Brady.

By this time, nonetheless, Philadelphia had already been buried.

Privateer 31, Eagle 15: The Eagles fell right into a 17-0 gap early, and their vaunted operating recreation wasn’t outfitted to scoop them out. 4 gamers, together with quarterback Jalen Hurts, mixed for 95 dashing yards, most of which got here in rubbish time. Tampa Bay relied on fast touchdowns to open the sphere for Tom Brady, who threw 271 yards on 29 of 37 passes with two touchdowns.

Payments 47, Patriots 17: Buffalo scored touchdowns on all seven of its offensive possessions to dismantle New England in as essential a playoff lead because it did throughout Patriots coach Invoice Belichick’s tenure. Invoice’s quarterback Josh Allen Allen accomplished 21 of 25 passes for 308 yards and threw 5 factors. He additionally ran for 66 yards.

Bengal 26, Raiders 19: Quarterback Joe Burrow led the Bengals’ high-profile offense as they scored within the first half of their 4 possessions and grabbed touchdowns with receiver Tyler Boyd and tight finish CJ Uzomah as Cincinnati secured its first playoff win in 31 years. On the Raiders’ last drive, a controversial rub of the passer name gave Las Vegas an opportunity to attain, however linebacker Germaine Pratt intercepted a cross from Derek Carr on the 2-yard line to finish the risk.

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