After a four-game sweep in last week's Wild Card round, the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots won their home playoff games yesterday as the host teams won for the sixth consecutive time in the NFL Playoffs.
The Falcons blasted the Seattle Seahawks, 36-20 as they battered one of the league's best defenses to the tune of 422 total yards in offense as quarterback Matt Ryan had three touchdown passes to lead the way. Ryan connected with eight different teammates while completing 26 of 37 pass attempts for 338 yards.
The Falcons defense intercepted Seattle QB Russell Wilson twice and had three sacks while limiting Seahawks running back Thomas Rawls to just 34 yards.
The game seemed to take a huge turn in the second quarter when Seattle kick returner Devin Hester's big punt return was called back because of a holding penalty. The 84-yard difference bottled Seattle up inside their own 10-yard line rather than having the ball inside the Atlanta 20-yard line while holding a 10-7 lead as well.
Two plays later, Wilson tripped when the center stepped on his foot as he took the snap and the result was a safety for the Falcons defense to make it a 10-9 ball game. From there, the Falcons scored the next 17 points to gain an insurmountable lead.
The Falcons now wait and see whether they will have to travel to Dallas or host the Green Bay Packers next week in the NFC Championship Game.
The New England Patriots jumped out to a quick lead last night as they eventually won 34-16 against the Houston Texans to advance to their NFL record sixth consecutive AFC Championship Game.
New England held a 14-3 lead after the first quarter as running back Dion Lewis returned from the injured list to score three touchdowns on a 13-yard pass from QB Tom Brady (287 passing yards with two TD and two interceptions) and a 98-yard kickoff return.
In fact, Lewis became the first player ever in NFL history to score three touchdowns via a run, reception and kick return in a playoff game. Lewis would score on a one-yard run in the fourth quarter to give the Patriots a 15-point lead.
The Texans made a run late in the first half as they trimmed the New England lead to 14-13 following a fumbled kickoff return by Lewis that resulted in a ten-yard scoring pass from QB Brock Osweiler (three interceptions thrown) to tight end C.J. Feidorowicz.
The Patriots got a late Stephen Gostkowski 19-yard field goal to close the first half ahead by a 17-13 count. In the second half, the Patriots defense took over as they twice picked off Osweiler, one time deep in Pats' territory to help seal the win.