Three Biggest Plays From Wild Card Weekend
Wild card weekend has come and gone, with six games, six winners, and six losers. With that, the Super Bowl is one week closer, and the pool of teams has been chopped down from fourteen into eight.
The NFL odds on who will win the Super Bowl have shifted due to eliminating six teams, but we are not here to talk about the Super Bowl just yet. With three whole days full of football, some great plays helped propel teams to their victories or, in the Cowboys’ case, helped cement their defeat and elimination from the divisional week of playoff matches. Here are the three–not best, not worst–biggest plays from wild card weekend!
Wild Card Round Recap
Three games took place from Saturday to Monday. On Saturday afternoon, the Cincinnati Bengals defeated the Las Vegas Raiders in a 26-19 game. Later that evening, the Buffalo Bills destroyed the New England Patriots 47-17. On Sunday afternoon, the Philadelphia Eagles fell hard to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with a final score of 31-15.
After that, the San Francisco 49ers barely edged out the Dallas Cowboys in a close 23-17 game. The Kansas City Chiefs demolished the Pittsburgh Steelers 42-21. Finally, in the first Monday night playoff game in NFL history, the Los Angeles Rams stomped the Arizona Cardinals 34-11.
And without further ado, here are the three most significant plays of wild card weekend, in no particular order.
Odell Beckham Jr Throws 40-Yard Pass to Cam Akers
In his second career postseason appearance, Odell Beckham Jr made NFL playoff history. In the Los Angeles Rams’ Monday win over the Cardinals, Beckham became the first player in playoff history to make a 30-yard catch and a 30-yard pass in the same game. A wide receiver throwing a key happens once in a blue moon, and Beckham made it look easy.
In the third quarter of this game, the Rams’ offense decided to run a rare trick play that worked beautifully.
Upon the center hiking the ball, quarterback Matthew Stafford threw a backward pass to Beckham, who lobbed a 40-yard pass to Cam Akers on the right sideline, putting the Rams inside the 20-yard line—executed to perfection. A wide receiver throwing a running back a pass is undoubtedly rare, and Beckham made it look easy.
Germaine Pratt Picks Off Derek Carr to Win the Game
The Las Vegas Raiders and Cincinnati Bengals game was undoubtedly one for the books. The season’s first playoff game certainly delivered on the action, excitement, and drama. Even though the Raiders put up an excellent fight, the Bengals ended up winning by a mere seven points. There were great moments and incredible plays throughout this game, but the best play arguably came in the final seconds.
It was fourth down for the Raiders, with the ball at the nine-yard line. They were down by seven, and there were only 17 seconds left on the clock, time for one more play. It was all or nothing. Derek Carr received the snap, stepped back in the pocket, and lobbed a pass to the right side of the end zone, near the one-yard line. Bengals linebacker Germaine Pratt stepped forward in front of the intended receiver and intercepted the ball, effectively sealing Cincinnati’s first playoff win in over 30 years.
This is one of those moments that is simply a joy to watch. It’s just fantastic football. The reaction of the players, the announcers, and the crowd are so unbelievably real and emotional. It was a crazy and well-earned ending to this first playoff game of the postseason.
The Funniest Play in NFL History (Thanks, Cowboys!)
I think everyone already knew this play would make it into this list, and for the exact opposite reason that these other two plays made it. It’s just…that bad. It’s so horrible, and it’s hilarious. I’m going to be a little bit of a jerk as a Washington fan and say that this play has single-handedly made the Dallas Cowboys the biggest laughing stock and meme of this year so far.
With 14 seconds left on the clock, and the Cowboys at the 41-yard line, down by six, no timeouts, Dak Prescott runs with the ball on second and one, sliding around the 25-yard line in the middle of the field. Then the game ends before the Cowboys can get another snap-in. What were they thinking?! Prescott not only did not have the opportunity to spike the ball with time left, but he also forgot that the referee has to spot the ball, NOT the Cowboys center.
Watching this at home on my television, I couldn’t stop laughing. Could this game have ended in a more Cowboys way? I don’t think so, and I don’t think people will stop talking about this play for a long time.