Orchard Park, NY — The Wild Card round of the ‘22-’23 NFL Playoffs concludes on Monday night, Jan. 16, when Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys face off against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccanneers in Tampa. On Sunday, three other playoff matchups had winners decided, and the overall playoff picture narrowed down to five teams.
BUFFALO BILLS 34 MIAMI DOLPHINS 31
Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills’ dream of a super bowl this season remained alive on Sunday, but just barely. After they rocketed out to a 17-0 lead in the first half, the Bills squandered that lead to a beat-up Dolphins team that was down to its third-string quarterback Skylar Thompson.
Josh Allen’s fumble in the third quarter gave Miami a 24-20 advantage after the Dolphins scooped up the loose football and returned it for a touchdown. At this point, Bills' Mafia began to sweat. However, Josh Allen rectified the earlier turnover by throwing two touchdowns, one to Cole Beasly and another to Gabe Davis, over a span of 3:11.
The Bills’ defense held on after another touchdown from Miami and stood tall on 4th down when Skylar Thompson’s 4th down-pass went off Mike Gesiki’s fingertips with 2:22 remaining in the fourth quarter. Josh Allen finished 23-39 for 352 yards and three touchdowns but also threw two interceptions that the Dolphins turned into 11 points.
The Buffalo Bills host the Cincinnati Bengals next week in a rematch of the canceled Week 17 game that saw Bills’ Safety Damar Hamlin taken to the hospital. Hamlin was discharged from the hospital last week and cheered his teammates on from his home in Buffalo.
NEW YORK GIANTS 31 MINNESOTA VIKINGS 24
Daniel Jones earned his first win in the playoffs in his debut against the Vikings and played like he’d been there many times before. First-year head coach Brian Daboll had the Giants ready for the most explosive offense in the NFL this year.
Jones threw for 301 yards and two touchdowns while running for 78 yards more. Saquon Barkley scored twice in the contest, one which broke the tie in the second half and looked extremely explosive. He had 109 yards on only 14 touches, averaging almost 7.8 yards every time he touched the ball.
As time wound down in the game, the Vikings, who were 11-0 in one-score games up to this point in the season, had one final opportunity to score. Cousins hit TE T.J. Hockenson near the sideline on 4th down, but the pass was well short of the line to gain. With 1:44 remaining and no timeouts to stop the clock, the Giants lined up in their victory formation and won the game.
The New York Giants travel to Philadelphia next week to face their rivals, the number one-seeded Eagles. QB Jalen Hurts is finally healthy enough to play, and the Giants have another tough test in front of them.
CINCINNATI BENGALS 24 BALTIMORE RAVENS 17
It took a wild turn of events for the Bengals to change their fortunes and down their rival AFC north Ravens on Sunday night. A fumble in a situation that would have given the Ravens a 7-point advantage in the fourth quarter instead fell into the arms of DE Sam Hubbard’s arms. Hubbard took the fumble and sprinted 98 yards in the opposite direction to give the Bengals a 24-17 lead that eventually won the game.
Ravens’ Backup quarterback Tyler Huntley played admirably in place of injured superstar Lamar Jackson. However, in the end, his heroics weren’t enough for the Ravens to make it past the Bengals. His decision to reach the ball over the goal line on that ill-fated quarterback sneak in the fourth quarter allowed the Bengals to punch the ball out before he reached it across the goal line. Hubbard did the rest, and the Bengals moved on to the divisional round.
Joe Burrow threw for 209 yards on 23/32 passing and one touchdown.
The Cincinnati Bengals travel to Buffalo next week to take on the Bills and what should be an emotional matchup for these two teams. Damar Hamlin continues to recover and is at home, but that incident still must be on these players' minds.
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