2018 NFL Wild Card Game Recaps
Carolina headed to New Orleans. Find out which NFC South team moved on to the Divisional Round.
Chris Ransom Last Updated: January 7, 2018.
Game Recap: KANSAS CITY-Tennessee did not have DeMarco Murray for this game as he was inactive with a knee injury. Derrick Henry would have to start this wild card game for the Titans. Kansas City can get to the divisional round for a third year in a row with a win today. Former Chiefs kicker Ryan Succop is on the Titans and he defeated his former team in week 15 last year. Kansas City is 0-5 in their last five home games at Arrowhead Stadium and they were looking to break that drought today.
Kansas City got the ball to start the game. Tyreek Hill dropped a catch on the first play of the game. Adoree' Jackson did a great job blanketing him in coverage on the first play of the game. Smith showed he was confident in Hill by throwing a screen pass to him on second down. That set up a critical third and six. Alex Smith got rid of the ball right as Mitchell Schwartz was about to miss his assignment at third down. Smith threw a first down in a real tight window to Travis Kelce. Kansas City's opening drive continued thanks to Kelce. Kareem Hunt got a 5-yard carry following that first down. Nose tackle Sylvester Williams made a nice tackle for a loss on second and five setting up another third and six. This time Karl Klug, Tennessee's 3-4 left end lined up at 3-4 right end and got by Eric Fisher at left tackle to get a quarterback hurry. That quarterback hurry by Klug set up a fourth down and forced Kansas City to punt the football.
Tennessee got the ball. Mariota threw it to an open Corey Davis on third down. Davis attempted to catch it with one hand and dropped the pass. Tennessee failed to capitalize on their opening drive as Kansas City held Tennessee to a three and out. Kansas City got the ball with 10:33 left in the first quarter.
Tennessee brought a three man rush with eight men in coverage. Tyreek Hill had a huge gain to set up a first and ten situation. That fired up Travis Kelce to get a first down for Kansas City. Kelce got by Jurrell Casey with a swim move and then took off from there. Kelce set up a first and goal. Tennessee stopped Kareem Hunt. Kareem Hunt bounced back with a rushing touchdown on the next play. Kansas City had the ball for 6 plays going 81 yards with a drive that lasted 2 minutes and 56 seconds. Kansas City made the extra point and took a 7-0 lead.
Tennessee got the ball back. A personal foul penalty by center Ben Jones set the Titans back to make it second and twenty. Chris Jones took the 3-4 right end job from Allen Bailey moving him over to 3-4 left end. Jones made a huge stop on second and twenty. Kansas City had Marcus Peters at field cornerback, Darrelle Revis at boundary cornerback, and Steven Nelson playing nickel cornerback. That trio made another stop with all three corners playing zone coverage on third and long. Tennessee had to punt again after starting the game 0/2 on third down conversions.
Kansas City got the ball back. They had a chance to expand their lead. Tyreek Hill had a false start penalty. Alex Smith got Albert Wilson involved. Wilson didn't wow with route running, but he used his speed to get a first down. Alex Smith overthrew a pass. Adoree' Jackson had an illegal use of hands penalty. That penalty gave Kansas City a first down. Kareem Hunt stiff armed a defender before spinning for a first down. Kansas City's wide receivers and offensive line did a great job blocking for Kareem Hunt. Eric Fisher missed his block, but Smith got rid of it in time on the next play and threw a touchdown pass to tight end Travis Kelce. This drive was only 5 plays, but took 3 minutes and 24 seconds off the clock. Kansas City scored on 2 of their first three drives and each of their drives lasted at least two minutes. Kansas City led 14-0 following the extra point.
Marcus Mariota took off and scrambled. He had to deal with a hamstring, but it's clear Mariota is healthy following that third down conversion. Kansas City led 14-0 after one quarter. Tennessee's big break came right before the end of the first quarter. It would be interesting to see if they could build off of their momentum in the second quarter.
Reggie Ragland tackled his former Alabama teammate Derrick Henry. Tennessee got stuck in another third down situation. Mariota threw to a wide open Eric Decker. Decker dropped three passes in the win over Jacksonville. He dropped a pass. Tennessee began the game 1/4 on third down conversions with two of those three failed attempts resulting in dropped passes by Corey Davis and Eric Decker.
Quarterback Alex Smith went 8/11 with 154 passing yards, 1 passing touchdown, and no interceptions in the first quarter. Alex Smith threw a screen pass to Tyreek Hill. Smith acted as a blocker to make himself 9/12 with 168 passing yards, 1 passing touchdown, and no interceptions. Smith managed the game well while Mariota's targets blew critical third down opportunities. Smith threw another completion to Kareem Hunt. That made Smith 10/13 on the day. Alex Smith got pressured by Tennessee thanks to a missed assignment by the left guard. Alex Smith threw two more completions even though Tennessee made the defensive stop. Alex Smith was 12/15 with 150 passing yards, 1 passing touchdown, and no interceptions following that drive.
Adoree' Jackson declared a fair catch. Tennessee got the ball back. Marcus Mariota threw a quick pass to Delanie Walker. Walker led the Titans with 74 receptions and 807 receiving yards in 2017. Mariota threw the ball to Delanie Walker. Rishard Matthews made his first catch of the game. Steven Nelson lined up at field cornerback where the number one cornerback plays. He blanketed Eric Decker who has continued to be a liability for Mariota. Mariota threw back to the field cornerback role thinking Nelson would be there, but it was Marcus Peters who lined back up at his natural spot to intercept Marcus Mariota ending Tennessee's drive and really killing momentum for the Tennessee Titans.
Kansas City got the ball back. Tennessee made a defensive stop. Dick LeBeau's coaching on defense kept the Titans in this game.
Marcus Mariota went no huddle on this drive. Mariota completed a first down to Delanie Walker. That set up a first down. Marcus Mariota threw a completion to Corey Davis. Marcus Mariota was sacked by Derrick Johnson on third down who nearly intercepted the pass intended for Davis. Kansas City did not have Johnson last year when they secured a first round bye. It looked like Justin Houston recovered a fumble. Tennessee attempted a field goal. Former Chief Ryan Succop scored on his former team again and kept his cool in impressive fashion with the wind at 10 miles per hour despite a bad snap. Kansas City led 14-3.
Kansas City got the ball back. Wesley Woodyard made a huge sack. Jonathan Cyprien made a huge hit at safety lining up with a closing hit to force what looked like a fumble and injured Kansas City's best offensive weapon in Travis Kelce. Kelce looked like he had a concussion. DeMarcus Robinson caught a first down pass from Alex Smith. Robinson made another big catch. Alex Smith was 4/4 with 48 passing yards on this drive. Alex Smith is 16/20 in the first half with a strong start. He's now 17/21 thanks to that completion. Smith threw another completion and is now 6/6 on this drive and 18/22 today. A holding penalty by Tennessee gave Kansas City even better field position. Smith went 7/7 on this drive and gave Kansas City a 21-3 lead heading into halftime as Alex Smith threw a touchdown pass to Demarcus Robinson. Smith ended the first half 19/23 with 231 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, and no interceptions in the first half.
Tennessee got the ball to start the second half. Marcus Mariota threw a pass to Corey Davis. Mariota went after Marcus Peters who picked off Mariota. Derrick Johnson did an awesome job reading the screen pass. Peters looked like he recovered a fumble for a touchdown, but Johnson made the tackle and Tennessee was down by contact. Kansas City set up a third and nine situation. Both of Tennessee's third down conversions came on Marcus Mariota scrambles. Tennessee won a challenge to get a first down. Then Marcus Mariota threw a completion to Derrick Henry for a huge first down. Then Henry ran for 13-rushing yards. Steven Nelson lined up at boundary cornerback and really did well in coverage. Mariota scrambled in the red zone. That set up a first and goal situation. Derrick Henry was just shy of the end zone. Delanie Walker had a false start penalty that cost the Titans five yards. Tennessee had the ball with seconds and goal from the five yard line. Justin Houston prevented Mariota from getting any rushing yards after dropping back into coverage to set up a third and goal from the five yard line. Marcus Mariota threw a pass into coverage that was deflected and still caught that same pass as a receiver for a touchdown. Tennessee took up 8 minutes and 29 seconds on their opening drive in the second half. Kansas City led 21-10. Marcus Mariota's first career receiving touchdown could not have came at a more critical time.
Kansas City got the ball back. They took a minute off the clock, but Jurrell Casey made a big stop. A roughing the kicker penalty got negated due to offsetting penalties. Tennessee did not signal a fair catch and muffed a punt which Kansas City recovered. Kansas City got the ball back. Alex Smith handed the ball off to Kareem Hunt. Tennessee tackled Hunt for a loss of one. Alex Smith threw a completion to Tyreek Hill. Hill shoved Logan Ryan out of bounds, after Ryan began this play in zone coverage. It was third and thirteen following that play. Derrick Morgan and David King both teamed up with a gang tackle to stop Alex Smith on third down. The field goal was off the upright. Kansas City kept their 21-10 lead.
Tennessee built some momentum on their second drive in the third quarter. Kansas City led 21-10 after three quarters of play.
Derrick Henry had a 35-yard run for a touchdown. Tennessee attempted their first two point conversion of the entire year on this play. They did not get it. Kansas City led 21-16.
Alex Smith threw a first down to Albert Wilson. Orson Charles dropped an easy pass on third down. Kansas City had to punt the ball to the Tennessee Titans. It was a touchback.
Marcus Mariota threw a pass that Jonnu Smith dropped. Kansas City lost Chris Jones and Dee Ford to injuries and it didn't help that Eric Berry got injured in week 1 against the Patriots. Delanie Walker bailed Marcus Mariota out with a critical third down conversion. Steven Nelson did an awesome job lining up at field cornerback again to blanket Eric Decker. It was a third down situation. Marcus Mariota got his third third down conversion of the day by scrambling with his feet. Eric Decker finally caught a ball. Decker lost two yards after a tackle by Marcus Peters who made up for his defensive holding penalty on third down. That set up third and two. Tennessee is 5/5 on third down conversions in the second half. Mariota used a timeout in a critical situation. Jonnu Smith got a third down conversion. Tennessee is now 6/6 on third down conversions in the second half. Marcus Mariota overthrew a wide open Corey Davis. Davis got by Marcus Peters and got that separation, but Mariota overthrew him. Mariota threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Eric Decker. Tennessee had an 11-play 80-yard drive that took up 5 minutes and 9 seconds. Tennessee led for the first time today 22-21 after that touchdown on second and ten.
ALex Smith threw a completion. Alex Smith scrambled for a big play. A holding penalty took it away. Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo both sacked Alex Smith on third down. Tennessee called a timeout on fourth and nine. Alex Smith threw a pass to Albert Wilson. Tennessee made the stop.
Derrick Henry stayed in bounds for the first down to get it to the two minute warning. Kansas City still had all three of their timeouts. It looked like Marcus Peters stripped a fumble and Derrick Johnson returned that fumble for a touchdown. Henry was clearly down on the play. The play was overturned and Kansas City burned their first timeout. Kansas City made another stop and burned their second timeout. Marcus Mariota blocked for Derrick Henry who ran it for a first down. That first down allowed the Tennessee Titans to proceed to the AFC Divisional Round.
Derrick Henry had 23 carries, 156 rushing yards, and 1 rushing touchdown. The combination of quarterback Marcus Mariota and running back Derrick Henry enabled the Tennessee Titans to win. Both Taylor Lewan and Jack Conklin stepped up. Tennessee got their first playoff win since 2003.
5. Tennessee Titans 10-7-0
4. Kansas City Chiefs 10-7-0
Game Recap: LOS ANGELES-Matt LaFleur was a quarterbacks coach with the Atlanta Falcons. He became an offensive coordinator with the Los Angeles Rams.
Los Angeles got the ball to start the game. Atlanta held the Rams to a three and out on their opening drive.
Atlanta got the ball. Los Angeles held the Falcons to a three and out.
Both teams went three and out again. Atlanta recovered a muffed punt on a fumble recovery. Atlanta had the ball at their own 11-yard line and now they have it at the Rams 18-yard line. Atlanta got a field goal off of that drive. Atlanta led 3-0.
Los Angeles began the game 0/3 on third down conversions. Atlanta still hasn't gotten a third down conversion yet either. Mohamed Sanu got the first third down conversion of the game. Matt Bryant kicked another field goal. Atlanta led 6-0.
Pharoh Cooper fumbled a kickoff. Atlanta recovered the fumble and got the ball back. Atlanta led 6-0 after one quarter of play. Devonta Freeman got a rushing touchdown. Atlanta took a 13-0 lead.
Los Angeles struggled again on their next drive. The Rams punted it to Atlanta.
Los Angeles made a stop. Jared Goff threw a touchdown pass to rookie Cooper Kupp. That made it a 13-7 game.
Atlanta didn't manage to do anything on offense. Los Angeles got the ball back with a chance to gain the lead before halftime. Jared Goff got Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods involved on the next drive. Goff completed 7 consecutive passes leading up to a first and goal situation. Goff threw a completion to Gurley which was overturned. The Rams kicked a field goal. Atlanta led 13-10 at halftime.
Atlanta got the ball to start the second half. Matt Ryan threw a completion to Tevin Coleman on third and nine to get a first down. Devonta Freeman ran for 11-rushing yards to gain another first down. Atlanta ran it on third and one and they were short. Matt Ryan scrambled on fourth down and got the first down. Ben Garland made a nice block at left guard. Devonta Freeman got another first down which made it first and goal. Atlanta had to settle for a field goal. Atlanta led 16-10.
Jared Goff threw a completion to Robert Woods on third down. Great job by Robert Woods to get separation from Desmond Trufant at field cornerback. Desmond Trufant broke up that pass. Jared Goff threw a screen pass to Todd Gurley on third down. Gurley dropped the pass and the Rams punted it to Atlanta.
Matt Bryant made his fourth field goal of the game. Atlanta led 19-10 with 19 seconds left in the third quarter. Atlanta led 19-10 after three quarters of play.
The Los Angeles Rams got a field goal. Atlanta led 19-13 in the fourth quarter.
Matt Ryan completed a 52-yard pass to Mohamed Sanu. That set up first and goal. Matt Ryan threw a touchdown pass to Julio Jones. Jones got by Trumaine Johnon. Atlanta led 26-13.
6. Atlanta Falcons 11-6-0
3. Los Angeles Rams 11-6-0
Tyler Higbee dropped a touchdown pass on third down. Atlanta stopped the Rams and kept their 26-13 lead in check. Deion Jones should have been called for holding, but wasn't. The Rams held Atlanta to a three and out and had the two minute warning and burned two of their three timeouts.
Atlanta won 26-13. Wide receiver Julio Jones was my player of the game with 9 receptions, 94 receiving yards, and 1 receiving touchdown. The defense stepped up as I expected. The biggest reason I picked Atlanta to win was because of Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford at cornerback. Trufant had 2 deflections from pass breakups and Alford had 3. Keanu Neal had 1 deflection from a pass breakup at strong safety. Atlanta's secondary was able to build on their week 17 home victory against the Carolina Panthers. Matt Ryan went 21/30 and did a good job avoiding turnovers playing smart at quarterback as well. Middle linebacker Deion Jones led Atlanta with 10 total tackles in this wild card game.
6. Buffalo Bills 9-8-0
3. Jacksonville Jaguars 11-6-0
Game Recap: JACKSONVILLE-Buffalo headed to Jacksonville. LeSean McCoy played despite being injured in week 17. Cordy Glenn was out at left tackle.
Buffalo got the ball to start the game. Tashaun Gipson and Barry Church made the first two tackles of the game at safety. Tyrod Taylor fired a first down to Zay Jones. Tyrod Taylor threw an incomplete pass. LeSean McCoy gained three yards. Malik Jackson made a critical sack on third down. Buffalo had to punt it to Jacksonville. Jacksonville got the ball with 11 minutes and 39 seconds.
Blake Bortles threw a screen pass to Leonard Fournette which he dropped. Buffalo held Jacksonville to a three and out.
A.J. Bouye tackled LeSean McCoy for a loss of one yard. That set up a third and ten. Buffalo punted it back to Jacksonville.
Blake Bortles threw another incompletion. Buffalo had a second consecutive third down stop. Jacksonville punted it to the Buffalo 3-yard line.
Tyrod Taylor threw a first down to Mike Tolbert on a third down conversion. Tyrod Taylor threw another first down to former Panther Kelvin Benjamin. Marcel Dareus tackled former teammate LeSean McCoy. That set up a third and eight. Nick O'Leary got a third down conversion. That set up another first down. Tyrod Taylor threw it away on third and two. Buffalo punted. The game was scoreless 0-0 after one quarter of play.
Jacksonville got the ball. Jacksonville finally got a third down conversion. They were held to a three and out following that third down conversion. Jacksonville punted it to Buffalo.
Tyrod Taylor threw a first down to Nick O'Leary. Tyrod had momentum, but he threw an interception to Aaron Colvin on the very next play. Jacksonville regained the ball on the very next possession. That interception by Colvin gave Jacksonville the first play of the game in opponents territory.
Buffalo held Jacksonville to another three and out. Buffalo got the ball back with 9 minutes and 55 seconds in the first half.
LeSean McCoy had his longest run of the day for 12-rushing yard. Calias Campbell smashed LeSean McCoy on that play. McCoy continued to run the football. A defensive holding penalty on third down gave Buffalo an automatic first down. A penalty on Jacksonville gave Buffalo another first down. Tyrod Taylor overthrew Nick O'Leary. LeSean McCoy got stuffed. That set up another third down situation. Tyrod Taylor scrambled for a first down. Tyrod Taylor threw another first down to LeSean McCoy. That set up a first and goal situation. Buffalo had 7 first downs on this drive. The play was incomplete and that set up a third and two. Buffalo got stopped on third down. An offsides penalty on fourth and one gave Buffalo a first and goal. A pass interference penalty on the offense by Kelvin Benjamin pushed the Bills' offense back. The Bills had another negative penalty. Tyrod Taylor was pressured and avoided the sack. That play took the game to the two minute warning with 1:56 left in the first half. Tyrod Taylor threw an incomplete pass on third and goal. Buffalo got a field goal with 1:49 left in the first half. Buffalo had the ball for 8 minutes and
Blake Bortles threw a completion to Dede Westbrook. That set up a first down. Tre'Davious White nearly picked off Blake Bortles. That stop made Blake Bortles 0/5 on third down conversions with Leonard Fournette's run for a first down the only third down conversion of the first half.
Blake Bortles had two big scrambles. Those scrambles set up a field goal. Jacksonville made a 44-yard field goal to tie the game at 3. It was 3-3 at halftime.
Jacksonville got the ball to start the second half. Blake Bortles went 0/6 on third down conversions when passing.
Buffalo had a few first downs on their opening drive in the second half. Buffalo had to punt it back to Jacksonville.
Jacksonville put an excellent drive together. Blake Bortles threw a touchdown pass to Ben Koyack. Jacksonville led 10-3 after three quarters of play.
Jacksonville made a defensive stop on Buffalo in the fourth quarter. Jacksonville got the ball back. Jacksonville took some time off the clock, but Buffalo made the defensive stop to force a fourth down. Norman had a 56-yard punt.
Buffalo got stopped by Jacksonville's defense. Blake Bortles ran for a first down. Buffalo made a defensive stop before Jacksonville made a defensive stop.
Tyrod Taylor got one more possession. Tyrod Taylor got injured on third down.
Nate Peterman came in and scrambled for a fourth down conversion. Then Peterman had an intentional grounding penalty. Jalen Ramsey intercepted Nate Peterman. Jalen Ramsey dominated this game. He was my player of the game. With this win Jacksonville heads to Pittsburgh and Tennessee heads to New England.
5. Carolina Panthers 11-6-0
4. New Orleans Saints 12-5-0
Game Recap: NEW ORLEANS-New Orleans swept Carolina in the regular season. The winner of this game would head to Minnesota to take on the Minnesota Vikings.
New Orleans went three and out on their first drive and had to punt. So did Carolina. New Orleans went three and out again on their second drive.
Cam Newton began Carolina's second drifve with three consecutive third down conversions. One was a ten yard scramble by Cam Newton. Newton threw a completion to Greg Olsen. Then Newton threw it to Kaelin Clay. Ken Crawley made a nice deflection on Carolina's fifth third down conversion attempt. Carolina began this game 3/5 on third down conversions. Graham Gano missed a field goal wide right as the Saints got a huge break with 2 minutes and 4 seconds left in the first quarter.
Drew Brees threw a bomb to Ted Ginn Jr. That touchdown pass put New Orleans ahead 7-0 thanks to an 80-yard strike. New Orleans led 7-0 after one quarter of play.
Carolina got a field goal in the second quarter. Drew Brees threw a touchdown pass to Jeremy Hill. New Orleans led 14=3 in the second quarter.
Carolina got a field goal. New Orleans led 14-6. New Orleans wrapped up the first half with a third consecutive touchdown drive. Cam Newton made a few completions. Graham Gano made a 58-yard field goal. New Orleans led 21-9 at halftime.
Both teams traded field goals in the third quarter. New Orleans led 24-12 after three quarters of play.
Carolina got a touchdown to make it a 24-19 game. Cam Newton had a chance to gain the lead. Cam Newton got dinged up and Derek Anderson came into the game. Carolina punted the football to New Orleans.
Drew Brees threw a big completion to Michael Thomas. That set up a first and goal situation. Alvin Kamara ran it in. Kamara's rushing touchdown gave New Orleans a 31-19 lead.
Cam Newton was cleared from his concussion. He re-entered the game. Cam Newton threw a touchdown pass to Christian McCaffrey. New Orleans led 31-26.
Von Bell got the game-winning sack for New Orleans. Bell was my player of the game for New Orleans.
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