Just for Kicks
Cowboys kicker Brett Maher, the only kicker in NFL history with four field goals of 60 yards or more, missed four consecutive extra points in Monday night’s victory over the Buccaneers. That surpassed the dubious playoff record of two and also the regular-season record of three.
Youth was served during Super Wild Card Weekend, and nowhere was that more apparent than at the quarterback position.
Every team that advanced on Saturday and Sunday was led by a quarterback who is 26 years old or younger. This list includes the 49ers’ Brock Purdy (23), the Jaguars’ Trevor Lawrence (23), the Bills’ Josh Allen (26), the Giants’ Daniel Jones (25), and the Bengals’ Joe Burrow (26).
The one exception will come from the winner of Monday night’s matchup between the Buccaneers and Cowboys, where ageless Tom Brady (45) faces off against relative graybeard Dak Prescott (29). They will be joined by the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes (27) and the Eagles’ Jalen Hurts (24) in the Divisional Round next weekend.
Sam Hubbard’s 98-yard fumble return touchdown for the Bengals was the game-clincher against the Ravens Sunday night. It was the longest go-ahead TD in the fourth quarter in NFL playoff history and the longest fumble return TD in NFL postseason history.
According to Next Gen Stats, Hubbard traveled 123.6 yards on his return, the most distance traveled by a ball carrier on a TD this season. He also reached a top speed of 17.43 mph, the third-fastest speed by a defensive lineman as a ball-carrier this season. No wonder he needed oxygen after the run.
How close was Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley from crossing the goal line on the fumble Hubbard returned for the score? According to Next Gen Stats, the closest the ball got to the end zone was 0.6 yards from the goal line. And how does NGS know this? There was a chip in the ball that measured the exact distance.
Another First for Vikings
The Vikings won 13 of their 17 regular-season games, including an NFL-record 11 that were within one score. They entered the playoffs as the first team to win 13 games with a negative point differential (minus-3). Their four losses were by 17, 37, 11, and 24 points. So their one-score loss to the Giants on Sunday (31-24) was something they had never experienced this season. For those counting at home, that gives Minnesota a minus-10 point differential over 18 games.
Danny Dimes or Vanilla Vick?
Giants quarterback Daniel Jones turned in a playoff performance for the ages, using his right arm as well as his feet to roll up 380 total yards in a 31-24 victory over the Vikings. In the process, the fourth-year pro became the first player in NFL history to pass for more than 300 yards (301), rush for 70 or more yards (78) and pass for two touchdowns in a playoff game.
Led by Trevor Lawrence, the Jaguars’ comeback win against the Los Angeles Chargers Saturday night was one for the history books. Jacksonville erased a 27-point deficit, which is the third-largest comeback in NFL postseason history.
Biggest Comebacks in NFL Playoff History
Lawrence became the only quarterback to throw four interceptions in a playoff game and still emerge with a victory. Oh, and he’s never lost on a Saturday … in high school, college or the NFL.
Time To Recharge
The Chargers are the first team in NFL playoff history to lose a game while winning the turnover margin by five. Playoff teams with a turnover margin of at least four were 85-1 prior to Saturday night.
Chargers cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. (above) was responsible for three of the Jaguars’ five turnovers, becoming the first player in NFL history to have a trio of interceptions (all in the first half) in his NFL playoff debut. Samuel was the first player to pick off three passes in a postseason game in 19 years. The Patriots’ Ty Law and the Panthers’ Ricky Manning both did it on Jan. 18, 2004 in the AFC and NFC Championship Games, respectively.
Purdy Special Playoff Debut
In the 49ers’ 41-23 victory against the Seahawks on Saturday, Brock Purdy became the first rookie quarterback to throw four touchdown passes in a single postseason game.
That was just the start of the milestones for Purdy, who was the first rookie quarterback to start a playoff game in 49ers history. He became only the second rookie quarterback in the Super Bowl era to score a passing and rushing touchdown, joining former Seahawks and current Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson, who did it in 2012.
And Purdy is the first with two or more TD passes and a rushing TD in his playoff debut, joining former 49er Colin Kaepernick. Purdy also is the only rookie to pass for three touchdowns, more than 330 yards and not throw an interception in a playoff game, and he became the youngest (23) with three TD passes and 300-plus yards in a playoff game, surpassing Dan Marino.
Super Toe lives! Robbie Gould, the 49ers’ 40-year-old kicker, kept his playoff field-goal perfection mojo going in Saturday’s 41-23 victory against the Seahawks. Gould, who is in his 17th NFL season and sixth in San Francisco, improved to 26-for-26 in playoff games after a 4-for-4 showing against Seattle. He drilled field goals from 31, 31, 33 and 34 yards.
DK Metcalf’s 50-yard touchdown reception in the first half against the 49ers was his third TD catch of 50-plus yards in the postseason, tying him for second with Randy Moss, and one behind another Hall of Famer, Steelers great John Stallworth. Metcalf had a monster day in Seattle’s loss at San Francisco, hauling in 10 passes for 146 yards. He added a second-half scoring catch as well.
Seattle Rookies Come Up Huge
Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas were the first rookie tackles to start a postseason game together in 40 years during Seattle’s 41-23 loss at San Francisco on Saturday. Speaking of Seattle’s draft prowess, if the Seahawks keep the fifth overall pick (obtained in the Russell Wilson trade with Denver in March 2022), it will be the highest selection for a playoff team since the New York Jets had No. 4 overall in the 2003 draft. The Jets picked defensive tackle Dewayne Robertson.