8 teams had a shot at the Vince Lombardi trophy, and now there are 4. The divisional round saw some great action, with four former Scarlet Knights delivering tremendous performances, and another who could only watch as his team fell.
Seattle’s win sent them on the road to Mohamed Sanu, Julio Jones, and Matt Ryan. The NFL’s most prolific offense wasn’t always pretty, but Atlanta turned a 10-7 deficit into a 26-10 lead early in the third quarter. A Matt Bryant field goal pushed the lead to 29-13.
After Seattle hung around mostly due to the Falcons being a little discombobulated, Mohammed Sanu put the nail in the coffin with a 4th quarter touchdown to make it a three score game.
B1G time catch by @Mo_12_Sanu! Congrats to the @AtlantaFalcons advancing to the NFC Championship. #RFootball ⚔ pic.twitter.com/5gK6bXWgAe— Rutgers Football (@RFootball) January 15, 2017
A Seattle touchdown on the next offensive play was too little too late and that would be the final, 36-20. The Falcons balanced offense saw 10 receivers targeted, including four that each had 4 catches including Sanu plus four different players score touchdowns. Mohammed finished with 4 catches for 44 yards and the touchdown. They awaited the winner of Dallas and Green Bay.
Belichick threw some love at his Rutgers secondary #Patriots pic.twitter.com/ISHUfXw7JW— FOX25 Sports (@FOX25Sports) January 15, 2017
Former Knight Tom Savage despite being declared healthy could only watch helplessly from the sideline after he was passed on for Brock Osweiler to start at quarterback for the Texans. The Houston brass will live the rest of their lives regretting that decision. Osweiler was intercepted three times, one by each former Scarlet Knight: Logan Ryan, Devin McCourty, and Duron Harmon in Foxborough. The Elias Sports Bureau has their work cut out trying to determine if there has ever been three players from the same college to intercept passes in the same playoff (or perhaps any) game as teammates.
On the second drive of the game, the tone was set by a Logan Ryan (7 tackles, 1 sack, 3 passes defended) perfectly broke up a pass third down. On the next Texans possession Ryan made a sack forcing a third and long, but a non-Rutgers Pats secondary member (shocking I know) committed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that resulted in an automatic first down. Later in the drive, McCourty (5 tackles) made a huge play cutting off the back allowing the cavalry to come and force a fourth down field goal attempt. Later in the first half, a rare Brady pick (completely muffed by the receiver) resulted in a red zone opportunity for Houston, but Harmon and Ryan combined on a third down tackle forcing a field goal attempt.
The Pats put up a touchdown early in the third quarter to go up 24-13 in what to that point was surprisingly close. Houston’s next possession ended on a McCourty pick outjumping star receiver DeAndre Hopkins.
@McCourtyTwins with the INT! #NFLKnights ⚔ pic.twitter.com/wDs9w83hVS— Rutgers Football (@RFootball) January 15, 2017
A following Houston field goal brought them back within 8, but a Ryan pick again versus Hopkins ended their next drive on its first play.
Amazing INT by @RealLoganRyan! #NFLKnights ⚔ pic.twitter.com/72aBCNzFCz— Rutgers Football (@RFootball) January 15, 2017
Harmon closed the book on Houston’s season intercepting a pass near the goal line and returning it 31 yards so the Patriots could run out the clock.
Wow another INT! Picked off by @dharm32. #NFLKnights ⚔ pic.twitter.com/STMzBrRgHN— Rutgers Football (@RFootball) January 15, 2017
The Pats await the winner of Pit/KC.
The first game Sunday showcases Dallas and Green Bay, the NFC’s two most storied franchises.
Pittsburgh goes to Kansas City to play the Chiefs for the final game. This game had to be moved from the early Sunday slot to a night slot due to expected weather.
Season complete: Jeremy Zuttah’s (Ravens), Clark Harris (Bengals) and Tyler Kroft (Bengals) Jason McCourty (Titans) Andrew DePaola (Bucs), Brandon Coleman (Saints) Marcus Cooper (Cardinals) Kenny Britt (Rams) Quentin Gause (Broncos) Leonte Carroo (Dolphins), Michael Burton (Lions) and Steve Longa (Lions): Injured Reserve (Jonathan Freeny - Patriots, Tim Wright - Lions, George Johnson - Bucs).
Knights in the pros FLASHBACK ... Divisional Round: January 10, 2010.
Ray Rice was a beast in this one as Baltimore traveled to New England. 17 seconds into the game Rice crossed the goal line for an 83 yard Touchdown. The Ravens would pour it on with 24 points in the 1st quarter that included a second touchdown by Rice.
After that, Baltimore would keep the ball on the ground as Rice and McGahee toted the rock over 20 times each. McGahee only ended up with 62 yards, but Rice had 159 yards along with the two TDs. New England never had a chance, as the Ravens won 33-14.
Baltimore would fall to Indy in the conference title game, but eventually broke through a few seasons later against the 49ers in the Super Bowl. That would end up being Ray Lewis’s final game in a Hall of Fame career as well as Ed Reed’s last game for Baltimore.