San Diego (EP)
The San Diego Chargers hosted the New England Patriots in an AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Qualcomm Stadium.
San Diego had a Bye in the first round of the playoffs while New England defeated the Baltimore Ravens to earn a trip to the second round of the playoffs.
The Chargers won the toss but deferred to the Second Half.
Methodically, the Patriots moved the ball on the Charger defense until running back Lawrence Maroney broke into the end zone from 3 yards away to give the visitors the lead. Stephen Gostkowski booted the extra point and New England was ahead right away, 7-0.
San Diego was unable to move the ball very far on their initial drive and when New England had their second possession, they had fine field position. The Charger defense toughened and held the Patriots to a 37-yard field goal attempt. Gostkowski pushed the kick left causing the San Diego home crowd to roar. The score still stood at 7-0 in favor of New England.
The Charger defense again came through on the next Patriot drive when Stephen Cooper recovered a Kevin Faulk fumble gave San Diego prime field position. The First Quarter ended with the score, New England 7 San Diego 0.
Blessed with great field position to begin the Second Quarter, the Chargers quickly evened up the score on a Ladanian Tomlinson 1-yard dive and a Nate Kaeding extra point. The score was now even at 7-7.
San Diego held New England again and once more garnered good field position. Using a ground attack, the Chargers took the lead when Tomlinson scored again, this time from 3 yards out. Kaeding's extra point try was good. The hometown Chargers led, 14-7.
Undaunted, and a bit awoken, the Patriots jetted right down the field on the arm of quarterback Tom Brady. The end of pass-dominated drive ended with a Brady-to-Moss 10-yard touchdown pass to the back of the end zone. New England tied the score on Gostkowski's point after, 14-414.
The final possessions for each team of the Half ended poorly. Patriot Dominic Burgess sacked San Diego quarterback Phillip Rivers and Charger Jaques Cesaire pounced on a Maroney fumble. The First Half ended with the score, New England 14 San Diego 14.
San Diego received the Second Half kickoff and blew down the field in a little over three minutes. Rivers connected with wide receiver Kris Wilson on a 27-yard bullet that suddenly put the Chargers back in the lead, 21-14 after a Kaeding extra point.
New England moved the ball a little but failed to score with their first possession of the Half. San Diego had a spark of a drive but was shut down when New England's Paul Oliver recovered Maroney's second fumble of the game.
New England could do nothing with the ball and went three downs and out, before San Diego got the ball in decent field position yet again. This time the Chargers made the field position work for them when Kaeding booted a 49-yard field goal to put San Diego ahead 24-14.
The Patriots returned to their ball-control passing attack and used up what time was left in the Third Quarter before cashing in with a draw play to Faulk who bolted 7 yards for a touchdown. The extra point was good. New England had crept closer to San Diego and made the score 24-21.
The Fourth Quarter began with Rivers and the Chargers at their own 20 yard line. Four minutes later they had moved into Patriot territory. New England's defense held, and Kaeding added his second field goal of the game, a 26-yarder, to make the score 27-21 in favor of the Chargers with a little over ten minutes to go in the game.
San Diego forced New England to punt on their next possession and were looking to put the game out of reach or run the clock down. Forced into a long third down, Rivers was sacked for an 8 yard loss by Patriot Jared Mann. The Chargers punted and pinned the Patriots inside their 15 yard line.
Having found the most success with ball-control drives, the Patriots attempted the same kind of possession to work toward the game-winning score. The Charger defense shoved the Patriots into a third down and short near their 30 yard line. New England attempted to cross up the Charger defense with a surprise run for the first down, but they were ready. Patriot running back Faulk would have none of it and not be denied as he muscled his way through a handful of Charger defenders for the first down.
Sensing new life, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady took the very next snap and launched a pass to receiver Randy Moss streaking down the near sideline. Moss made an adjustment to grab the ball in the air over a Charger defensive back, then strode away from the trailing safety to reach the end zone for a 66-yard touchdown catch.
Gostkowski's extra point was automatic.
New England had taken a 28-27 lead in the game's final seconds.
A squib kickoff by the Patriots left the Chargers with one last attempt at a play, but Rivers last-gasp pass fell sadly incomplete as time ran out and give the game to New England and leave the Chargers and their fans stunned.
Final Score: New England 28 San Diego 27
The Indianapolis Colts dominant regular season gave them the best record in the American Football Conference, the Number One Seed in the AFC Playoffs, home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and a First Round playoff bye.
Indianapolis rested during the first week of the 2009 AFC playoffs.
New York found themselves in a dogfight with the Cincinnati Bengals during the first week of the AFC playoffs, fell behind the Bengals, came back to tie the game and then won the game in Sudden Death Overtime on a long field goal.
It seemed the advantage in the Divisional Round playoff game between the Indianapolis Colts and New York Jets was tilted in favor of the Colts.
Well - things certainly did not start out that way…
New York won the toss and deferred to the Second Half.
Indianapolis took first possession of the ball in front of a raucous crowd who had waited all year for the Colts to make it to the playoffs as expected, and promptly punted.
The Jets had the ball on their first possession and quickly began to turn momentum in their favor with an efficient drive that ended with a Marc Sanchez to Braylon Edwards 9-yard TD pass. The extra point was good inside the quieting dome in Indianapolis, and New York was ahead, 7-0.
The vaunted Indianapolis offense whimpered and punted the next two times it had the ball.
New York took advantage of the increasingly better field position and Jay Feely booted 36-yard field goal to put the Jets up, 10-0.
With most of the First Quarter gone and not many yards and no points yet, the Colts drove the ball but only close enough to allow playoff-relaible kicker, Adam Vinaterri a chance at a 48-yard try. To the dismay of the Colts and their fans, the kick sailed easily wide right. The Jets still led in the game, 10-0.
A patient drive by New York, probably assisted more by Indianapolis dismay than Jet momentum, paid off again just as the quarter ended when Shonn Green gashed into the end zone from 2 yards out, putting New York up by a surprising 17-0 margin, with the extra point.
The start of the Second Quarter began with Indianapolis pinned inside their own 10-yard line after the ensuing New York kickoff. In what seemed like a routine out pass to wide receiver Reggie Wayne just beyond the First Down Marker, ended in disaster for the Colts when All-Pro Jet cornerback Darrelle Revis darted inside Wayne, snatched the ball in flight and was in the end zone before the Colts or their fans could blink. With the extra point, New York was ahead of the Number One-Seeded Colts, 24-0 and there were still nearly three quarters of football left to play.
Woozy and wobbled and stifled and shut down by the stingy and opportunistic Jet defense, the Colts mustered up a drive that only worked to a sputtering end and a disappointing Third Down and long. Settling for any opportunity for points, and looking for any way to spark the team, the Colts kicker Vinaterri this time found the mark with a 41-yard field goal that put Indianapolis on the scoreboard and hopefully could spur them on to more. The Jets lead was cut to 24-3.
The Colts kicked off the Jets, with a bit of a renewed sense of purpose. New York kick returner, Brad Smith made short work of Indianapolis’ purpose as he dashed it nearly completely when he blazed a trail through the middle of the Colts kick coverage team and took the kickoff back 93 yards for another Jet score. They only cheering in Indianapolis was then the from the pile of New York Jet players that mobbed Smith after he ran completely through the end zone with the ball. New York led the stunned Colts, 31-3.
Try as they might to strike quickly, the Jets wore down the Colts into a possession game that ate up the clock and began to devour Indianapolis hopes. The Colts wanted a quick drive resulting in a touchdown, but what they got instead was a long, grinding drive that ended with only another Vinaterri field goal, this one of 30 yards. The Colts could only climb back to within twenty-five points - New York led, 31-6.
Sanchez and crew again fed off the Colt shock and desperation. Another ball-control drive kept the Indianapolis defenders off balance and all of a sudden Sanchez found wide receiver Jericho Cotchery alone in the middle of the Colts zone defense in the end zone for a touchdown. Feely punctuated the score with the extra point. The Jets led 38-6 with the First Half nearly mercifully over for the Colts.
Colts All-Pro quarterback, Peyton Manning, heaved a last-second pass toward the end zone as the clock expired, but Revis was there at the other end of the throw and took a knee to end the lopsided half. New York was ahead of the favored Colts, 38-6.
The Third Quarter began and ended as a grind for both teams. New York wanted the game this way and Indianapolis was caving in under the weight of it.
A fumble by New York gave Indy a spark, but that was hope was snuffed out with a Shaun Ellis sack of Manning that again kept the Colts off the score board. Indianapolis fumbled also, but New York was content to play small ball and keep the Colts frustrated. The Third Quarter ended with the Jets still way ahead of the Colts, 38-6.
By the beginning of the Fourth Quarter, it seemed like the game was long over. Indianapolis had no life in them at all and their fans had no wind left in their lungs to use to urge their team forward with. Each tackle by the stout New York defense took more toll from the Colt players. Punts were traded back and forth and the New York defense swayed field position again so the Jets final score of the day looked so easy it appeared to be an after-thought: Sanchez and Cotchery again connected on a pass inside the red zone for a score, and their was only a small celebration from the Jets players and fans who also seemed to know the game had been long over. The Jets then led the Colts, 45-6.
A turnover on downs and a fumble was all that was left of the season for Indianapolis.
The Colts went home for the year while the Jets would go on and play in the AFC Championship Game next weekend.
Final Score: New York: 45 Indianapolis: 6
The New England Patriots hosted the Baltimore Ravens for a First Round game of the 2009 AFC Playoffs.
The Ravens came into the game boasting one of the league’s top defenses. Right from the opening kickoff it became clear just which team and it’s defense had brought it’s “A” game.
Immediately, the Patriot defense stopped the Raven running attack and forced a punt. A precision ball-control drive led by New England quarterback, Tom Brady, into the mouth of the Baltimore defense ate up nearly ten minutes of the First Quarter. On 2nd down and seven, running back Fred Taylor gashed the Baltimore defense on an inside slant and took the ball nearly untouched 43 yards for the touchdown. New England had ground-down the clock and punched Baltimore in the mouth, and they were far from through.
A key third down holding penalty on the next Raven possession forced another punt. The next Ravens drive ended miserably when linebacker, Junior Seau recovered a fumble. Even after a Chris Carr interception of a Brady crossing pass ended the First Quarter, the Ravens were kept out of field goal range on their ensuing drive when Derrick Burgess sacked quarterback Joe Flacco for a seven yard loss. Patriot kicker Stephen Gostroski then booted a 33-yard field goal to give New England a 10-0 lead with six minutes gone in the Second Quarter.
Baltimore was unable to move the ball at all and Gostroski launched a 52-yard field goal that just cleared the crossbar and gave New England a 13-0 advantage in front of their home fans. Flacco again hit the turf hard the next time the Ravens had the ball, sacked for an eleven yard loss by Myron Guyton. Brady took the helm as the half wound down, not settling for another field goal, and arced a pass over the outside shoulder of wide receiver Randy Moss for a 21-yard touchdown. The extra-point was good and New England went into the Halftime break with a 20-0 lead.
The Patriots received the ball first as the Third Quarter began and wasted no time getting into paydirt again on a Brady to Kevin Faulk swing pass that went 26 yards for the score. New England led by a commanding 27-0.
Baltimore sparked on offense and slowly gained field position, then rumbled into New England territory before running back Willis McGahee turned a short Flacco pass into a 7-yard touchdown to finally get the Ravens on the board. The score was then 27-7, Patriots.
Jarrett Johnson the sacked Brady for a 5-yard loss and the Ravens turned their next possession into another touchdown, a Flacco pass to Demetrius Williams of 7 yards. The score then became, New England 27 Baltimore 14.
As the Third Quarter ran out, Baltimore’s defensive pride continued to show. Dominique Foxworth stepped in front of a Brady pass and intercepted it, keeping the Patriots from a field goal try. The Ravens mixed up their offense the next offensive series, with Troy Smith behind center. Smith, adding a more mobile aspect to Baltimore’s pounding attack and Smith eventually skirted around left end for a touchdown that brought the visiting Ravens to within six points at, 27-21 at the start of the Fourth Quarter.
Brady moved the ball and the Patriots down the field again on a long, exhausting drive. Lawrence Maroney capped the struggle with a leap over left guard from a yard away that moved New England further out front, 34-21.
Momentum had shifted to the Ravens late in the game, and the tireless Patriot defense that had been a brick wall to the Baltimore running attack, suddenly crumbled during a drive when Flacco only attempted a single pass. The Ravens used interchangeable running backs to hammer the Patriot defenders. L’Ron McClain thumped into the endzone for a score to claw back to within six points of the tired Patriots, 34-28.
Brady again directed the competent New England offense, and on third and long instead of opting to let the game rest on their worn defense, the Patriots took to the air with disastrous results. Brady’s throw of an out pattern headed toward wide receiver Wes Welker was picked off by Baltimore All-Pro safety, Ed Reed.
The Ravens took the field once more with an opportunity to win the game when they were at one point down 27 points. Flacco and the Ravens gave up on the running game and relied on the quarterback’s big arm. The New England defense rose up and the clock wore down nearing the end of regulation. Baltimore was warring both the Patriots and the game clock and was forced to go to their Hurry-Up offense. With under 40 seconds to go in the game, Flacco threw a pass for wide receiver Derrick Mason. Patriot cornerback Darius Butler leapt with Mason in front of the right endzone pylon and came down on his back with the ball in his hands, sealing the New England win.
Final Score: New England 34 Baltimore: 28
The Cincinnati Bengals played host to the upstart New York Jets in First Round action of the AFC Playoffs.
The Bengals spent little time getting on the scoreboard and energizing their fans even further when wide receiver Chad Ochocinco out-battled All-Pro cornerback Darnelle Revis on a fade pattern in the back corner of the endzone to give Cincinnati a ultra-quick 7-0 lead.
Marc Sanchez, the Jets rookie signal caller tried to shake off playoff nerves on the next New York possession but tossed an ill-advised pass late across the middle of the field where it was intercepted by the Bengals' Johnathan Joseph.
The teams then traded punts before Cincinnati put together a steady drive into New York territory. On third down, Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer ducked the Jet pass rush, moved to his left and threw off-balance to a crossing Lavernues Coles who carried the ball in from 19 yards out for a touchdown, surprisingly untouched. Cincinnati led 14-0 and the New York sideline looked a bit tense.
Sanchez then rallied behind his team and its strong running game, pounding out a drive that culminated with a second-effort quarterback sneak for a touchdown. The Jets had clawed back into the game at the end of the First Quarter, down 14-7.
The two teams forced back-to-back turnovers, a Revis interception at midfield and a Robert Geathers fumble recovery on the very next Jet offensive play. The Bengals took full advantage of the turnover with a short drive for a touchdown that culminated with a Palmer to J.P. Foshi pass. Cincinnati was now ahead 21-7. The Bengals could have stretched their lead on their next possession, but Shayne Graham missed a 50-yard field goal attempt very wide to the right.
The Jets ground out a competent drive into the Bengal side of the field but a untimely holding call on a completed pass from Sanchez that would have given New York the ball at the Cincinnati 12 yard line, pushed New York out of even field goal range. The Bengals took a few snaps and knelt down to end the First Half still up comfortably on the Jets, 21-7.
New York could do nothing on their initial drive of the Second Half. A punt to the Bengals led to a quiet, but effective ball-control possession. Cedric Benson took a soft Palmer pass in the right flat and dashed it in for another Cincinnati touchdown. The Bengals were pulling away, 28-7 and the Jets had only showed a flash of offensive production.
Summoning up something that they needed to forestall an end to their season, the Jets turned to their offensive staple, the running game. New York pushed the ball right at and through the Cincinnati defense until a first-down-and-goal play at the Bengal 5-yard line produced a sharp timing route from Chancey Stockey and a Jet touchdown. New York showed some life, down 28-14.
The Bengals failed to move the ball anywhere on their ensuing possession and punted away to the Jets. Methodically, the New Yorkers bashed the ball again down the field. Once inside the Bengal 5-yard line, they tried no finesse but gave the ball to running back Thomas Jones who bounced off an initial hit and ran through an arm tackle for a 4-yard touchdown run. The lead the Bengals had held all day had dwindled down to seven points, 28-21.
Fear shot through the Bengals and their fans when Cedric Benson mishandled a Palmer pitch and the Jets' Mike Devito recovered. Momentum seemed to have swung to the New York team, but the Cincinnati defense held serve and forced a punt. The Bengals fizzled out on their next drive at their own 35-yard line and gave the ball back to Jets at the beginning of the Fourth Quarter.
Rumbling down the field again, the Jets kept the ball on the ground, chewing up yards and the game clock. Hoping to hold the approaching Jets to a field goal, the Bengals defense dug in for a second down play from their own 7-yard line. As the Cinicinnat defenders crashed the line of scrimmage expected a bashing run play, Sanchez took the snap from center, faked to Jones and bootlegged out to his right. Chancey Stockey was completely in the clear when the football hit him in the hands and he loped in for the tying touchdown. Sanchez met Stockey with the rest of his teammates in the endzone for a leaping celebration. The score was suddenly tied 28-28 and the home fans in Cincinnati were standing, but silent.
The Bengals gained two first-downs on their next possession, but had to punt the ball away to the momentum-filled Jets offense. New York took over in fair field position and commenced to moving the ball into Cincinnati territory. Bengal defensive tackle, Tank Johnson, buried Sanchez at the Cincinnati 49-yard line with a third-down sack that forced the Jets to give the ball up as the Fourth Quarter wound down.
Carson Palmer and Cedric Benson managed the clock and the ball carefully, moving the Bengals down the field but could not advance beyond mid-field before the clock ran out for the Fourth Quarter and Regulation Time. Cincinnati and New York found themselves deadlocked at 28-28 and were headed into playoff overtime.
The crucial coin-toss was held at the 50-yard in front of the Cincinnati faithful in the fading sunlight. New York won the toss and immediately wanted to take possession of the ball first in the Overtime period.
Cincinnati fans stood the entire drive, urging on their obviously tired defense. Withering under the New York rushing attack, the Bengals gave ground and yards. Soon, the Jets were into Bengals territory and then into scoring position. Eleven methodical and ground-pounding plays later, New York was in position to attempt a 30-yard field goal for the win.
Now under the bright stadium lights that blared against the darkness of night, after a straight snap from center and a sure set of the ball on the ground, Jay Feely kicked the ball straight through the middle of the uprights giving the New York Jets a fantastic 31-28 victory.
Final Score: New York Jets 31 Cincinnati 28
The Green Bay Packers traveled to Minnesota to take on the Minnesota Vikings in the second round of the 2009 NFL Playoffs.
Green Bay advanced to the second round of the playoffs with a win over the Arizona Cardinals while Minnesota earned a first round playoff bye as the #2 seed in the NFC this year.
The Packers received the opening kick-off and immediately moved down the field and capped off the drive with a Ryan Grant 7-yard TD run. The extra point was good and the Packers took a 7-0 lead.
The two teams exchanged punts before the Vikings took over in decent field position half way through the First Quarter. Just like that, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson jetted 44 yards for a game tying touchdown. The extra point was true and the score stood at 7-7 with a little over six minutes left in the First Quarter.
Vikings defensive end Jared Allen ended the next Packer drive with a sack of Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Minnesota kept things simple and gave the ball repeatedly to Peterson. Their diligence paid off as they used up the clock and moved inside the 10 yard line before Peterson found the end zone again on a 6-yard touchdown run. The extra point was good. The Vikings had taken the lead 14-7 at the end of the First Quarter.
Green Bay took the ball again but were again thwarted when Minnesota's Ray Edwards sacked Rodgers on third down.
The Vikings got the ball back on a punt and moved the ball well before stalling. Vikings kicker Ryan Longwell nailed a 41-yard field goal to give Minnesota a 17-7 lead.
Mason Crosby answered Longwell's field goal with one of his own, a 29 yarder to draw the Packers to within seven points, 17-10 with six minutes of the Second Quarter.
Minnesota kept grinding the ball on the ground with Toby Gerhardt and Peterson. Unable to contain the All-Pro, the Packer defense was gashed by Peterson once again for 34 yards and another long touchdown run. The extra point was good. Suddenly, the Vikings went ahead by a score of 24-10.
Rodgers and the Packer offense gutted out a drive, trying to climb closer before Half Time. Minnesota's defense stiffened and Crosby was left to attempt a 44 yard field goal. The kick fell surprisingly short. The Packers went into the locker room down 24-10 to the Vikings.
Minnesota's offense began the Third Quarter with the same determination on offense, banging the ball ahead on the legs of Peterson. The Vikings failed to reach the end zone, but Longwell salvaged some points with a 32 yard field goal. Minnesota lead 27-10 with only a few minutes gone in the Third Quarter.
The Packers carefully moved the ball into Vikings territory but where stopped abruptly once again by a sack of Rodgers on third down that moved Green Bay out of field goal range.
The Vikings punted back to the Packers on their next drive. Green Bay broke through the Minnesota defense with a few long runs before cashing in with a 7 yard Rodgers to Greg Jennings touchdown pass. Crosby put through the extra point and the Packers climbed back to with 27-17.
The Packers' momentum built right away on the next Viking drive. Cornerback Charles Woodson stepped in front of an ill-advised Brett Favre pass and gave the ball back to the Rodgers and the Green Bay offense. Just as the Third Quarter came to a close, Grant broke through the Viking defense for a 7-yard touchdown run to tighten the game. Crosby punched in the extra point to move the score to 27-24.
Favre and the Vikings responded with a calm, deliberate drive mixing short passes with Peterson runs. Finally, Favre connected with wide receiver Sydney Rice on a 8-yard slant who fell into the end zone. Minnesota put some space between themselves and the surging Packers. Longwell added the extra point and made the score, 34-24.
The Packers regained the ball with ten minutes to go in the game. A sharp drive engineered by Rodgers moved the ball into Vikings territory. This time the drive was ended not by a third down Vikings' sack, but by a third down Green Bay holding penalty that led to a failed effort to make the first down on third down and long. The Packers were had too far to go on fourth down, and punted to the Vikings late in the Fourth Quarter.
Minnesota kept with their game plan and ran the ball in an attempt to grind out yards and grind down the clock. Peterson and Gerhardt continued to find room and soon the Vikings were knocking on the door once again. Green Bay was forced to use all of their time outs as Minnesota continued to runs the ball right at them. Ultimately, the Packers were out of time outs and out of gas when Peterson found the end zone a final time for his third touchdown of the game. Longwell booted the extra point making the score 41-24, Minnesota
The Minnesota Vikings advanced to the NFC Championship Game with a 41-24 victory over the Green Bay Packers.
New Orleans (EP)
The explosive New Orleans Saints hosted a Divisional Playoff Game and welcomed the Philadelphia Eagles into the Superdome.
New Orleans earned a first-round playoff bye by winning the NFC South Division. Philadelphia survived a Wildcard playoff game against Dallas with a 34-31 win.
The Saints won the coin toss and chose to accept the ball first and give their offense first crack at the scoreboard. Eagles defender, Trent Cole, put an end to New Orleans’ plans when he sacked Saints quarterback Drew Brees for a two yard loss when Brees stretched for the first down marker on a scramble. Amazingly, the New Orleans defense was the first unit to put points on the board. Cornerback Tracy Porter snatched a Donovan McNabb pass and raced 39 yards for a touchdown that erupted the already boisterous New Orleans crowd into a frenzy. Suddenly, the Saints led, 7-0.
Not shaken by the turnover, McNabb moved his team directly to a score on their next possession. Running back Brian Westbrook vaulted the final two yards into the endzone to even the score at 7-7.
In usual Saints fashion, Brees carved up the Eagle defense until halfback Mike Bell blasted in for a touchdown to put New Orleans ahead once again. The extra point was good and the Saints led, 14-7.
Defense dominated for the rest of the First Quarter. McNabb was sacked for a six yard loss, then Brees was brought down for a three yard loss. The First Quarter ended with the score, New Orleans 14 Philadelphia 7.
The Second Quarter was either full of defensive defensive prowess or offensive ineptitude. A promising Philadelphia drive ended with a personal foul penalty, the two teams then traded fumbles before New Orleans scored on a 12-yard run from running back Pierre Thomas that gave the Saints a 21-7 advantage. The teams again traded fumbles and McNabb tossed another interception as well. The First Half mercifully ended with New Orleans leading, 21-7.
Philadelphia began the Third Quarter by keeping possession of the football long enough to give kicker David Akers an opportunity at a 52-yard field goal. Akers kicked the ball cleanly through the uprights and moved the score to 21-10 in favor of New Orleans. Philadelphia’s next possession led to a competent drive culminating with a McNabb to DeSean Jackson 5-yard touchdown pass. The Eagles cut the Saints lead to 21-17 half way through the Third Quarter.
The Eagles then intercepted Brees immediately and put themselves in great position to take the lead or crawl right up the back of the Saints. New Orleans defensive end, Will Smith ended the Philadelphia scoring threat with a sack of McNabb that jammed the Eagles out of field goal range. Brees then found running back Reggie Bush on the following drive with a screen pass that Bush caught and loped 5 yards for a touchdown. The Saints led 28-17 at the close of the Third Quarter.
The New Orleans fans were loud and animated as the Fourth Quarter began. The Eagles could do nothing with the ball on their next opportunity before Reggie Bush then electrified the already bristling home crowd with a 43-yard signature, dashing, darting, blazing run. The Saints were quickly out front 35-17 and the Saints fans were sensing a victory.
The Eagles mustered up courage and determination and crept a bit closer to the Saints halfway through the quarter with a 1-yard DeSean Jackson reverse touchdown run. Akers booted the extra point to bring the score to 35-24, New Orleans.
Hearts in New Orleans jumped a beat a few minutes later when Philadelphia cornerback, Asante Samuel, picked off a Brees pass and gave the Philadelphia team a charge. The Eagles moved the ball nicely, but the Saints defense held and Akers kicked a solid 46-yard field goal to climb the Eagles closer at, 35-27 as the Fourth Quarter wound down.
The Eagles defense rose up during the next New Orleans drive, stopping running back Mike Bell short on a third down run.
The game clock was nearly down to triple zeroes, but the Eagles had one last chance with the football. McNabb and Coach Andy Reid snapped into a hurry-up game plan that began well, but the clock was too formidable a foe and McNabb’s desperation pass for Jackson in the endzone as time ran out was intercepted by New Orleans’ Randall Gay.
New Orleans won the game and advanced to the 2009 NFC Championship Game.
Final Score: New Orleans 35 Philadelphia 27
The Arizona Cardinals, hoping to make a return trip to the Super Bowl this year, hosted the Green Bay Packers in a First Round game of the 2009 playoffs.
The hometown Cardinals won the coin toss and decided to immediately put the ball in the hands of their offense. The strategy paid off when Neil Rackers kicked a 41-yard field goal to put the Cardinals on top, 3-0. After a Green Bay punt, Arizona again drove the ball well and again Rackers provided the scoring with a field goal kick of 35 yards. Arizona controlled the ball well on their next drive, but came up short on a key third down run and ended the First Quarter with a 6-0 lead.
Green Bay managed to put together a solid drive of their own opening the Second Quarter. Jermichael Finley secured a first down with a shoe-string catch that led to Packer touchdown when Ahman Green carried a short Aaron Rodgers pass 10 yards for a touchdown. The extra point was added and Green Bay slipped into the lead, 7-6.
Quarterback Kurt Warner and All-Pro wide receiver, Larry Fitzgerald moved the Cardinals ahead on their very next drive, connecting on a beautiful 22-yard touchdown pass. Rackers made the extra point. Arizona led, 13-7.
The Second Quarter wound down with a few key plays. Cardinal Adrion Wilson recovered a Packer fumble that led to a long Arizona possession that ended when Green Bay’s Clay Matthews sacked Warner for an 11-yard loss. Field position shifted and Green Bay moved into position to put more points on the scoreboard before the clock expired, but kicker Mason Crosby missed a 46-yard field goal try. The First Half closed with Arizona in the lead by a score of 13-7.
Third Quarter action began briskly. Green Bay rumbled down the field with a time-consuming drive. Rodgers rolled out to his right from the five yard line, chose not to run for the goal line and instead lofted the football to tight end Spencer Havner in the endzone for the score. With the extra point, the Packers led by one point again, 14-13.
Arizona responded in kind, with a solid possession of their own, capped by a 3-yard touchdown run by running back, Beanie Wells. The extra point was added, and the Cardinals led once more, 20-14.
Green Bay’s next drive fizzled, and the Arizona took over. On a second down and 6 play, Warner tried to find wide receiver Anquan Boldin on a slant, but Atari Bigby jumped the route and came away with the interception. The Packer’s cashed in on the turnover, working the ball again inside the Cardinal 5 yard line. Rodgers rolled out once more, but this time carried the ball in himself - untouched all the way - for the touchdown. Crosby booted the extra point. The game was again a tight affair and the Packers were up 21-20 at the end of the Third Quarter.
Fitzgerald showed up large for the Cardinals on the team’s next possession. He snagged three Warner passes and kept a drive going with an acrobatic leap to secure a first down. Fitzgerald could not lead the Cardinals all the way to paydirt, however, and Rackers kicked another field goals, this one of 30 yards, to put Arizona in the lead 23-21.
Flashing his own dependable skills, Green Bay wide receiver Donald Driver carried the next Packer drive and somehow broke free of coverage from 22 yards out and streaked into the endzone with a pretty pass from Rodgers. The extra point was good. The Arizona fans grew restless, and Green Bay was ahead in the game 28-23.
The Cardinals had to punt on their next possession, leaving the Packers with fair field position. Adrion Wilson crashed into Rodgers on a blitz, and Rodgers was barely able to hold onto the ball. Wilson’s play, however, did force a Green Bay punt.
Warner orchestrated the next Arizona drive masterfully. The Cardinals pressed into Packer territory and would have stalled out completely at the 34 yard line if not for an “illegal hands to the face” penalty on the Green Bay defense. Given a reprieve, with the clock ticking down quickly, Warner again took charge. Under pressure each of the next two plays, Warner was only just able to get the ball away out of bounds each down. A third down pass brought the same relentless pressure. Warner stepped up in the pocket and tried to make a throw at the same time defensive tackle Ryan Picket swatted at Warner’s right arm. The football came out of Warner’s hand and found its way to the ground, Packer defensive end, Johnny Jolly, fell on the ball.
The Cardinals were long out of time outs. The Packers’ win was preserved.
Final Socre: Green Bay 28 Arizona: 23
The Dallas Cowboys welcomed the Philadelphia Eagles to Cowboys Stadium for the first game of the 2009 NFL Playoffs.
The Cowboys won the coin toss, but elected to defer to the Second Half. Philadelphia handled the ball first but could do nothing after three plays and was forced to punt. The Eagles could manage little offense, punting all four times they had the ball in the First Quarter.
Dallas wasted no time with their first possession of the day, getting on the scoreboard when Marion Barber took a reverse handoff and dashed 25 yard for a touchdown. The Cowboys quickly led, 7-0.
The Second Quarter began when Philadelphia's Bernard Bunkley recovered a Cowboy fumble at the Dallas 40 yard line. Eagle quarterback, Donovan McNabb, returned the turnover favor by tossing a pass that went directly to Cowboy Mike Jenkins that squashed the first effective Philadelphia drive of the game.
The Eagle defense rose up on the next Cowboy possession and stuffed Dallas tight end Jason Witten inches short of a first down on a third down catch just across the fifty yard line. Sparked by their defense, McNabb fired a dart through the Cowboy pass coverage to darting wide receiver, Jeremy Maclin who broke into the clear with the ball and took it in for a touchdown. Kicker David Akers added the extra point and the score was tied just like that, 7-7.
Again the Eagles defense stood up the Cowboy offense and forced a punt. Philadelphia now had the better of the field position and took little time to score again, this time on a McNabb to tight end Brent Selek six yard touchdown pass. Suddenly, the Eagles were up on the Cowboys, 14-7.
Dallas was unable to generate any offense in the Second Quarter, just as Philadelphia sputtered in the First Quarter. Cowboy defensive end salvaged the First Half for the Cowboys when he sacked McNabb for a 10 yard loss, knocking the Eagles out of field goal range. The First Half ended with Philadelphia ahead, 14-7.
The Third Quarter began with a futile drive by the Cowboys that ended in a punt. Both teams traded field goals by the middle of the quarter before Eagle wide receiver DeSean Jackson reeled in a McNabb pass on the sideline for a key first down that put the Eagles in scoring position. The Dallas defense stood firm, holding Philadelphia to another Akers field goal. The Third Quarter was nearly over and the home-standing Cowboys were looking at a 20-10 deficit.
Dallas quarterback, Tony Romo, brought his team back into the game with a confident throw to the sure-handed Witten who bowled into the endzone from 3 yards out to bring the Cowboys seven points closer, 20-17 as the Third Quarter ended.
Donovan McNabb gave no thought to slowing down on the Eagles next drive. The Eagles turned to the air and McNabb slung his team down the field and found tight end Jason Avant curling in the endzone for a 5 yard touchdown pass. Philadelphia had stretched their lead to ten, 27-17.
The Cowboys trudged back into Eagle territory on their next drive, but could only manage a field goal attempt after the Philadelphia defense kept them out of the red zone. Dallas kicker Nick Folk then missed a 51 yard attempt that flew just outside of the right upright.
Not discouraged, the Cowboy defense held. Romo and Dallas moved back into Philadelphia ground right away. Easily within field goal range, the Cowboys took to the air and Roy Williams pulled down a high Romo pass in the back of the end zone to pull the Cowboys within three points, 27-24.
The Dallas fans were roused and the 100,000-plus of them were roaring for their team to complete the comeback. McNabb and the Eagles were game enough, and switched up their play-calling on their next possession, moving back to their running attack. The dagger in the heart of the Cowboys and their faithful fans came when Eagle running back, LaSean McCoy took a draw handoff from McNabb at the Dallas nine yard line and stabbed through the heart of the tottering Cowboy defense for the touchdown. There was less than a minute to go in the game and Philadelphia had taken a 10-point lead, 34-24.
Eagle defenders played a conservative pass defense the final few seconds of the game. Cowboy halfback Felix Jones scored what was only an afterthought of a touchdown when he ran two yards through a passive Eagle defense.
Final Score: Philadelphia 34 Dallas 31
2009 NFL Playoff Replay
Played using Downey Games' Momentum Football.
What This Is
A play through of the 2009 NFL playoffs. Write-ups are all original content.