Wildcard Monday

The wildcard round of the NFL playoffs is complete. The Lions, in their first playoff game since 1999, fell to the apparently unstoppable Saints in New Orleans Saturday night. Detroit was in command of the game throughout the first half, but by the fourth quarter, the home team had decidedly overwhelmed them. An errant whistle cost Detroit a touchdown, but there were too many missed opportunities on offense and too much softness against the run on defense for the visitors to finish the upset. Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson had good games, but it wasn’t enough. Still, the Lions have to feel ok about a 10-win season that included a competitive playoff game after going 0-16 three years ago.

The other Saturday game, in which the Texans defeated the Bengals on a strong second-half performance, featured a difference-making rematch of two rookies. Andy Dalton’s TCU Horned Frogs were all over J.J. Watt’s Wisconsin Badgers in last year’s Rose Bowl, but on Saturday, it was an interception and a sack of Dalton by Watt that set the table for Houston’s (interestingly, both the players’ fortunes and geography have swapped) decisive second half.

Atlanta was a no-show in Sunday’s first game, their only points coming on a safety that gave them an early 2-0 lead. By contrast, the later game was quite exciting, as Tim Tebow, along with the Denver defense, led the Broncos to an overtime win against an injured-but-playing Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers, who may have missed Rashard Mendenhall a little more than some people expected.

On the site this week, stay tuned for posts about tonight’s college football national championship game, Kobe Bryant’s wrist injections, and recaps of Red Wings at Blackhawks and (hopefully) the Sugar Bowl and Liberty Bowl.

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