Divisional Sunday first impressions
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - And then there were four.
The AFC and NFC Championship matchups have been set. The Falcons, who won by the skin of their teeth on Sunday, will host San Francisco one week from today. The Patriots, 41-28 winners against Houston, will take on the Ravens in the other championship battle.
Seattle at Atlanta
Faced with a 20-0 deficit, Russell Wilson nearly engineered a dramatic comeback. His 385 passing yards, 60 rushing yards and three touchdowns put Seattle ahead by one with 34 seconds left but Atlanta took just 26 seconds to get into field-goal range for the game-winner.
Wilson hit tight end Zach Miller eight times for 142 yards and a touchdown. Miller only had 444 yards in the previous 17 games this season. Wilson's other passing touchdown went to Golden Tate (6-103-1). Sidney Rice saw nine targets but only caught four of them for 60 yards.
A miserable day for Marshawn Lynch almost became a full-fledged disaster when he lost control of the football near the goal line late in the fourth, but he had already crossed the plane for the go-ahead score. Lynch only had 46 rushing yards on the day, lost a fumble and was on the sideline early in the game when Seattle was stuffed on 3rd-and-1 and 4th-and-1.
Atlanta QB Matt Ryan kissed his playoff woes goodbye with 250 yards, three touchdowns and more importantly, a 30-28 win. It was his first playoff game with at least 200 yards passing in four tries.
Tony Gonzalez is still uncoverable one-on-one. I can't believe the tight end is seriously considering retirement. At least he got his first career playoff win.
Roddy White (5-76-1) did a little talking of his own after beating mouthy cornerback Richard Sherman for a 47-yard touchdown.
Julio Jones' (6-59) biggest catch won't register on the offensive stat sheet -- the wideout picked off Wilson in the end zone on a Hail Mary attempt to end the game.
A little rest and relaxation made Michael Turner look three years younger; the veteran running back rushed for 98 yards on 14 carries, his third-best output of the season.
Houston at New England
Sunday was the Patriots' sixth 40-point game of the season. Two of those games have been versus the Texans.
With the win, Tom Brady (344 yards, three TD) was able to secure his 17th career postseason victory. That moves him ahead of his childhood idol Joe Montana for the most all-time.
The Patriots weren't sure if Rob Ninkovich would be ready this week after suffering a hip injury in the final game of the regular season. He came up huge with four tackles, an interception and a clutch onside kick recovery in the fourth quarter.
Slot wizard Wes Welker announced his presence with six catches and 120 yards ... and that was just in the first half. Welker (131 yards) has led the team in receiving ten times this season.
Sunday Shane Vereen became the third player in New England history to record three touchdowns in a single postseason game. He finished with 124 total yards from scrimmage (83 receiving, 41 rushing).
Brandon Lloyd had five catches Sunday in his postseason debut. One of them went for a five-yard touchdown with 1:21 remaining in the third quarter.
Arian Foster rushed for only 46 yards when he faced New England earlier in the season. This time around he had 90 yards and a touchdown with 57 of those 90 yards coming in the first half. Foster has played the Patriots three times in his career and scored in each game.
The Texans' best player on Sunday may have been their kick returner. Danieal Manning had returns of 94, 69 and 35 yards in the game. He also contributed with six tackles on defense.
You won't find Rob Gronkowski's name in tonight's box score. That's because he re-injured his broken arm in the first quarter and spent the rest of the game getting worked on in the locker room. According to Pro Football Talk the injury will require surgery, meaning that barring some kind of medical miracle, Gronkowski won't be able to play again in this postseason.
New England will face Baltimore next week in the AFC Championship. It's the same matchup as last year's AFC Championship when the Patriots squeaked by with a 23-20 victory thanks to a Ravens missed field goal in the final seconds. The Ravens won 31-30 in the lone regular season encounter between these two teams.
01/13 20:53:48 ET