The Road to the Super Bowl

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The Road to the Super Bowl

Sierra Flessel, Staff Writer

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After seventeen grueling weeks of football, the stage was finally set for the NFL playoffs.

To kick off the playoffs, each division, the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC) held two wild-card games each. The top two seeds of each division then awaited the four winners of the wildcard games.

The first round of the wildcard games was played on Saturday, January 5th. The first wild card game of the AFC consisted of the 10-6 Indianapolis Colts and the Houston Texans, playing at the NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. Houston’s quarterback Deshaun Watson went 29-49, 235 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception. Indianapolis’s quarterback Andrew Luck went 19-32, 222 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception. The Colts dominated the game and breezed to the next round of play with a win of 21-7.

Immediately following the conclusion of the Colts vs. Texans game, the NFC’s first wildcard game was underway, consisting of the 10-6 Seattle Seahawks and the 10-6 Dallas Cowboys, playing at the AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas. The game was back and forth throughout, each team displaying why they deserved to advance to the next round. The Seahawks quarterback, Russell Wilson, went 18-27, throwing for 233 yards, with one passing touchdown. The Cowboys quarterback, Dak Prescott, went 22-23, throwing for 226 yards, 1 interception, and one passing touchdown. With the help of Ezekiel Elliott’s 137 rushing yards, and the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys won 24-22.

The second round of the wildcard games was played on Sunday, January 6th. The first of those two was a test of quarterback seniority. The youngster, Lamar Jackson, and the 10-6 Baltimore Ravens went against the veteran quarterback, Philip Rivers, and the 12-4 Los Angeles Chargers. The Chargers managed to hold Baltimore’s star quarterback to only 194 yards, and the Raven’s to a mere 17 points. The Chargers placekicker, Mike Badgley helped his team by scoring 15 points through field goals alone. The game concluded with the Chargers victorious with a score of 23-17 to advance to the next round of the playoffs.

At the conclusion of the Chargers vs. Ravens game, the final wildcard game between the 9-7 Philadelphia Eagles and the 12-4 Chicago Bears began. Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky went 26-43, threw for 303 yards, and completed one passing touchdown. The Eagle’s Nick Foles went 25-40, 266 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. The game ended in an upset, with the Eagles beating the league’s stingiest defenses. Nick Foles’s two-yard line, fourth down, touchdown pass pushed the Eagles to a victory of 16-15.

With the wildcard games behind them, four games were set for the Divisional Round. First up were the 13-3 Los Angeles Rams and the 10-6 Dallas Cowboys. The Rams’ rushing game was on fire during the game: C.J. Anderson ran for 123 yards and Todd Gurley ran for 115 more. This allowed for the Ram’s first playoff victory in 14 years, with a score of 30-22 over the Dallas Cowboys.

The second divisional game included the 12-4 Kansas City Chiefs and the 10-6 Indianapolis Colts. Kansas City’s young quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, led his team to a dominating 31-13 victory, which broke the 25 years of playoff frustration plaguing the franchise.

The third game featured the 12-4 Los Angeles Chargers and the 11-5 New England Patriots. Sony Michel ran for 129 yards and three touchdowns for a victory of 41-28. This propelled the Patriots to their eighth straight trip to the AFC championship game.

The last game of the divisional round was between the 9-7 Philadelphia Eagles and the 13-3 New Orleans Saints. Although the Eagles were the underdogs in their wildcard game, interceptions still plagued their game-play and the Saints rallied to win the game 20-14.

With the wildcard and divisional games completed, the winners were set to play in the conference championships. The first game was played in New Orleans, between the New Orleans Saints and the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams rallied from an early 13-0 point deficit to come back and stun the Saints in their fans by kicking a 57-yard field goal in overtime to win the game 26-23. This win punched the Ram’s ticket to a trip to the Super Bowl, a feat not done by the team since 2001.

Controversial play during the Rams comeback against the Saints.

The second game was between the New England Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs. A hard fought four quarters came down to an overtime period. Tied at 31-31, New England won the coin toss and pulled off a touchdown drive to advance to face the Rams in the Super Bowl.

 

Kansas City Chiefs vs. New England Patriots.

The stage is now set for Super Bowl LIII. The Los Angeles Rams will face the New England Patriots at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia on February 3, 2019, at 3:30 PT. The world will be watching to see if Tom Brady will add yet another Super Bowl ring to the five he already possesses or if the Rams young upcoming star, Jared Goff, can lead his team to their first Super Bowl victory since 2000.

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