Super Wild-Card card weekend kicks off playoffs with a bang by Jake Austin

Super Wild-Card card weekend kicks off playoffs with a bang by Jake Austin
Reading Time: 5 minutes.

Super wild-card card weekend kicks off playoffs with a bang

Saturday saw the start of the NFL playoffs as the San Francisco 49ers hosted division rivals
Seattle Seahawks, and the LA Chargers travelled to Jacksonville on the first day of the
league’s 2nd ever ‘Super wild-card weekend’.

Super Wild-Card Saturday early game

The early kickoff between the 49ers and Seahawks went as most predicted in the early proceedings as the highly touted 49ers D held the seahawks to a two 3-and-outs in a row, and Brock Purdy marshalled two scoring drives where big plays from Deebo Samuel and a career-long 66 yard run from Christian McCaffery put the Niners up 10 points with barely 10 minutes off the clock. From there, however, the tide turned in favour of the Seahawks as they outscored the 49ers 17-3 the rest of the half.

The Seahawks came to life with a 78 yard touchdown drive that was finished off by rookie Kenenth Walker, and Geno Smith followed up with a deep bomb down the left sideline to D.K. Metcalf on the next drive to give the Seahawks the lead. After being carved up early the Seahawks defence also eventually moved past first gear to hold the 49ers out of the endzone after that initial drive.

Underdogs on top?

A sack from Bruce Irvin and a leaping PBU in the endzone from DB Mike Jackson took points off theboard as the 49ers were into two redzone field goals on back-to-back drives. Errors from the 49ers then gifted the Seahawks the lead going into halftime, as Shanahan’s decision to squib the kickoff following a field goal put the Seahawks within touching distance of Jason Myers’ range, and an unnecessary roughness penalty on a hit to the sliding Geno Smithfrom Jimmie Ward gave the Seahawks an extra three points and the 17-16 lead.

(B)rocking on for the Niners

Despite the optimism the Seahawks might have felt coming back out for the third quarter, the 49ers proved why many see them as Super Bowl Contenders as they stamped their authority on the game with a completely dominant second half display. The opening drive was an ominous sign of things to come as Shanahan ran the ball down the throat of his opposition and marched his team down the field to score. That was the start of a 25 point unanswered run for the 49ers, as a Charles Omenihu strip sack allowed Brock Purdy to take advantage of a short field to marshal another scoring drive with a TD pass to Elijah Mitchell.

Following on from that Deebo Samuel made the play of the day when he took a third down slant 74 yards to the house to put the home team up by 21. From there Geno was picked off by Deommodore Lenoir and a Robbie Gould field goal dashed any hopes the Seahawks had left. Eventually the Seahawks scored after the two-minute warning but it was too little, too late and the underdog season story for the Super wild-card Seahawks came to a crushing end.

The late game

The late super wild-card game between the Jaguars and Chargers was expected to be a much different affair than the earlier contest as many predicted a closer and more competitive game. The Chargers totally missed the memo for those predictions, though, as they dominated the Jags in all three areas of the game and built up a 99% win probability (per NextGenStats) before the end of the first half.

Charged up at the start

The Chargers managed to build such a strong position by forcing 5 turnovers throughout the half as the Jags consistently shot themselves in the foot. Trevor Lawrence set the tone early by beginning his postseason career with an interception that was deflected by Joey Bosa and caught by LB Drue Tranquill. That interception was the first of 4 thrown by Lawrence in the first half, as his dreadful streak continued with a hat-trick of picks for second year Charger’s CB Asante Samuel Jr., who by halftime had caught more passes from Lawrence than any of the Jags receivers.

The fifth Jags giveaway came when punt returner Jamal Agnew fumbled inside the 10-yard line, setting up the chargers for yet another score. The Chargers capitalised with a field goal from that turnover, but throughout the half they had repeatedly made the most of the great field position gifted to them by the Jags’ offensive mistakes. Agnew’s fumble was the third time the Chargers’ offence started a drive already within the Jags’ red zone, and on both other occasions they came away with 7 points after an Austin Ekeler rushing touchdown.

A comeback begins

The Jaguars rallied towards the end of the half, however, as a touchdown pass from Lawrence to Evan Engram inside the final thirty seconds got them on the board and decreased the deficit to 27-7, starting the comeback. The key to the comeback began with the Jaguars’ defence, who took the field for the second half and forced the Chargers into failed third and long conversions on back-to-back drives. Despite a Charger field goal on their second drive after the half, the defence had held long enough for the Jaguars offence to build on the momentum that came with their late first half touchdown as Lawrence
orchestrated two consecutive touchdown drives going into the fourth quarter.

Seeing the shift in momentum the Chargers did their best to wrestle back control with a six-minute drive to start the final quarter, but another failed third and long conversion from Justin Herbert meant they were forced to settle for another field goal attempt. With the opportunity to increase their lead to 13 and probably put the game to bed, the Chargers instead left the door open for the Jags as rookie Cameron ‘Dicker the Kicker’ missed wide left. In response, Lawrence marched down the field and took all the points he could from the drive with a pass to Christian Kirk for a touchdown followed by a QB sneak for the 2-point conversion. The lead was now just 2 and the Chargers folded under the pressure, failing to convert a third and thirteen with just over three minutes left.

Finishing it off

They would not have the ball again. Now only needing a field goal for the win, Lawrence marshalled the game winning drive expertly, although it was running back Travis Etienne who made the crucial play by converting on fourth and inches with a 25 yard run to set up the Jags at the 15. After a failed read-option centred the ball at the 20, Riley Patterson squeezed the game winner just past the right upright as time expired, and the Jags completed the third biggest comeback in postseason history.

With the Jags and 49ers now through to the divisional round, their next opponents will be decided over the rest of the weekend and Monday night. If these early games have been any indication of what is to come in the rest of the Super Wild Card weekend games you better make sure you don’t miss any of the action, but if you do, you can always catch up with more game recaps coming next week.

Banner Image: Brock Purdy led the Niners to the win. Image from sfchronicle.com

If you enjoy Jake’s writing you can find more from him here.

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