The next round of the NFL playoffs is decided after six games filled the ‘Super Wild Card Weekend.’
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were the last to advance after beating the defending NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles 32-9 Monday night to move on to the divisional round of the NFL playoffs. The Bucs will play the Detroit Lions on Sunday at 3 p.m.
Earlier Monday, the Buffalo Bills bested the Pittsburgh Steelers – a game that was delayed a day after wild winter storm conditions in Buffalo. The two teams faced off in frigid conditions, with temperatures of 17 degrees in Buffalo at kickoff time, according to the National Weather Service. The Bills took a big early lead, each touchdown saluted by snow-tossing fans, and cruised to a 31-17 win.
Here’s everything you need to know about Monday’s playoff games.
Bucs defeat Philly
The Buccaneers will advance to the divisional round of the NFL playoffs after cruising past the Eagles Monday night.
Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield led the way, completing 22 of 36 pass attempts for 337 yards and three touchdowns. Mayfield set the tone early in the game when he connected with David Moore in the first quarter on a 44-yard catch-and-run touchdown.
Mayfield would tally his second and third touchdowns in the third and fourth quarter to seal the victory for the Buccaneers.
“Proud of our guys, proud of everybody in the building to stick together like we did the second half of the year and to get to this spot – to keep fighting, to stick together and don’t listen to the outside noise. Just trust the people next to you,” Mayfield said after the game.
Philadelphia, which was playing without star receiver A.J. Brown, struggled to get much offense going from the start but managed to score a touchdown toward the end of the second quarter when quarterback Jalen Hurts found tight end Dallas Goedert in the endzone to cut the deficit to 9-16 at the half.
However, that was as close as the Eagles would get as the stout Buccaneers defense held Philadelphia scoreless in the second half.
Hurts, who was playing after dislocating the middle finger of his throwing hand in the final game of the regular season, finished with 250 passing yards and a touchdown in the loss.
After starting the year with a 10-1 record, the Eagles lost six of their last seven games, including Monday night, to end the season.
“We were in a big slide and anytime that’s the case I always look at myself first,” Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni said after the game. “It’s almost like we couldn’t get out of the rut we were in and that’s all of us. We’ll have to look ourselves in the mirror and accept that.”
The Buccaneers hosted Martin Luther King III and his family – Arndrea Waters King, and Yolanda Renee King – as honorary captains for the team’s game on Monday night. The King family participated in the game’s coin toss.
“Having the King family in attendance to celebrate the remarkable legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on this special evening is an honor and a privilege,” Buccaneers co-owner Darcie Glazer Kassewitz said in a statement.
According to the Buccaneers, it was the first time that King III and his family commemorated the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday at an NFL game.
Both the Philadelphia Eagles and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers faced huge pressure going into their playoff game, with both head coaches’ jobs potentially on the line
Sirianni has seen his side slump during the second half of the Eagles’ season, with both the offense and defense cratering as Philadelphia lost five of its final six games.
Following a Super Bowl defeat last year and the discontent surrounding the team, rumors of a coaching change have begun to percolate and could come to fruition should an early playoff loss take place.
Tampa Bay head coach Todd Bowles also has pressure on his shoulders, with his team finishing with an 9-8 record and a spot in the playoffs but with questions around the future of the team.
Mayfield has been dealing with injuries to his ankle and ribs in the lead up to the crucial game, coming at the end of a rebuilding year for the 28-year-old’s reputation.
Bills deal with cold, dispatch Steelers
The Bills worked overtime to get the snow-filled stadium prepared for the game, even sending out a request on their website and social media for additional snow shovelers to assist the team with removing snow from Highmark Stadium overnight. Volunteers were paid $20 an hour for helping overnight and into Monday morning, while also being provided breakfast and drinks.
Despite the work, seats blanketed with thick snow still greeted many fans Monday. Videos posted on social media showed fans in the stadium digging through the icy mess to reach blue stadium seats and one Steelers fan using his body to plow through the snow-filled seat rows. Still, aerial shots of the 72,000-seat stadium show it was packed.
The game was fairly equal statistically but the Steelers suffered two big turnovers, including a Mason Rudolph pass that was intercepted in the Bills’ end zone early in the second quarter.
Bills quarterback Josh Allen had four touchdowns, including a stunning 52-yard touchdown run that grew the score to 20-0. He threw for three touchdowns and completed 21 of 30 passes for 203 yards.
Allen was in top form from the opening kick. On their first offensive possession, the Bills scored on a 6-yard pass from Allen to Dawson Knox. The Bills followed it up with an Allen pass to Dalton Kincaid for a 29-yard touchdown. Allen struck again in the second quarter, this time with a 52-yard touchdown run – the second-longest scoring run for a quarterback in NFL postseason history.
The Steelers battled back and cut the Buffalo lead to 24-17 in the fourth quarter, but the Bills put the game away with a 17-yard touchdown pass from Allen to Khalil Shakir.
Bills Head Coach Sean McDermott called it an “admirable” effort to get the snow-covered playing field and the stadium ready for the game. He said he looked out his window several times Sunday and it was hard to see. He thanked the team’s fans, referring to them by their collective nickname.
“Bills Mafia showed up. I know that there wasn’t always clean seats to sit on but it didn’t seem like it mattered to them so I applaud (them),” he said at a postgame news conference.
Buffalo have turned hot when it turned cold, ending the regular season on a five-game winning run – after a rocky start to the campaign – including a final week victory over the Dolphins to steal the AFC East crown and the AFC’s No. 2 berth at the finish line.
Now they will get ready to host defending Super Bowl champions the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional playoff round on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. ET. The early weather forecast predicts a high temperature that day of 25 degrees with a low Monday morning of 17 degrees.
This story has been updated with additional information.
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