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NFL Playoffs: No Safe Lead, Drama Abounds on Wild Weekend

The Buffalo Bills squandered a 17-point lead before recovering to win on Sunday. That miracle was averted less than 24 hours after the Jacksonville Jaguars closed a 27-point gap to one of the most stunning comeback victories in playoff history.

No lead is safe, and so far, drama abounds in the NFL playoffs.

A busy Sunday schedule saw the Bills defeat the Miami Dolphins 34-31, the New York Giants thrash the Minnesota Vikings 31-24, and the Cincinnati Bengals held on to beat the Baltimore Ravens 31-24. 24–17. .


There’s one more game left in this round: Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers take on Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night.

All three Sunday games were decided in the last minutes. In the night cap, Sam Hubbard pulled back 98 yards of fumbles from Baltimore quarterback Tyler Huntley to score a fourth-quarter touchdown in a stunning turn of events that led the Bengals to victory.

Huntley tried to push the envelope to get the go-ahead. But he was backed by Germaine Pratt and stripped by fellow linebacker Logan Wilson.

The ball went straight to Hubbard at 2, and the defensemen flew downfield in the longest touchdown fumble in NFL postseason history. It was also the longest TD in the fourth quarter of the postseason.

In Game 1 Sunday, Bills quarterback Josh Allen brushed off a three-run game with two touchdowns at 3:11 in the third quarter. He finished 23 of 39 for 352 yards and three touchdowns, but also threw two interceptions and lost the fumble.

Cole Beasley scored a touchdown with a 6-yard catch, and Gabe Davis extended the lead to 34-24 with a 23-yard TD after Buffalo squandered his early 17-0 lead.

Giants quarterback Daniel Jones was one of the weekend’s stars, leading No. 6 seed New York to a road victory over No. 3 Minnesota. Jones, in his first playoff game, threw for 301 yards and twice touched down, as well as a run 78 yards, demonstrating a stellar all-around. Saquon Barkley scored two points, including a tie-break midway through the fourth quarter.

On Saturday, rookie Brock Purdy and the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Seattle Seahawks 41-23, and the Jaguars completed their comeback by beating the Los Angeles Chargers 31-30.

Kansas City took first place overall in the AFC with a 31–13 win over Las Vegas in Week 18. Philadelphia took first place in the NFC. These teams were given days off before playing in the divisional round next weekend.

Here are a few more things to know during the postseason:

WHAT IS THE NEXT SCHEDULE?

MONDAY

Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 8:15 pm EST ESPN/ABC

SATURDAY, JANUARY. 21

Jacksonville Jaguars at Kansas City Chiefs 4:30 pm ET NBC/Peacock/Universo

New York Giants v Philadelphia Eagles 8:15 pm ET Fox/Fox Deportes

SUNDAY, JAN. 22

Cincinnati Bengals at Buffalo Bills 3:00 pm EST CBS/Paramount+

Dallas/Tampa Bay at San Francisco 49ers 6:30 pm EST, Fox, Fox Deportes

WHAT IS THE PLAY OFF FORMAT?

This is the third consecutive year of the current playoff format, which features the top seven teams from both the AFC and NFC.

The four division winners in both conferences automatically receive the top four seeds, regardless of record, and then the top three top-scoring teams that did not win their division are wildcarded. This is why a wildcard team quite often has a better record but worse playoff seed than a team that finished division winner.

The No. 1 seeded team in each conference advances to the second round – it’s the Chiefs and Eagles – while the No. 2 team takes on No. 7, No. 3 takes on No. 6, and No. 4 takes on No. 5 during a wild weekend.

After each round of the playoffs, NFL teams are reseeded. This means that no matter how the bracket started, the lowest seeded team will always advance to the highest seeded team.

The playoffs have four rounds: the wildcard round will take place this weekend, the division round will take place January 21-22, the conference championship games will take place on January 29, and the Super Bowl is scheduled for February 12 in Glendale, Arizona. .

WHAT HAS CHANGED WITH THE CANCELLED BILLS-BENGALS?

On January 2, players and fans watched in horror as Buffalo Bills defenseman Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field in Cincinnati when his heart stopped and he was given CPR before leaving the field in an ambulance. Over the next week, the same players and fans reacted with joy to the news of Hamlin’s recovery.

Even better news came on Saturday: Hamlin visited the Bills facility with his teammates for the first time since being discharged from the Buffalo hospital.

A person with direct knowledge of Hamlin’s schedule confirmed the player’s visit to The Associated Press. The man spoke on condition of anonymity because Hamlin kept his schedule and recovery under wraps.

Hamlin’s remarkable recovery helped keep him focused on the playoffs.

The cancellation of the Bills-Bengals game due to Hamlin’s injury could lead to one big change in the AFC playoff format.

The AFC Championship game will be played at a neutral venue if the Chiefs and Bills reach that point, in accordance with the rules adjustment approved by the NFL owners last Friday. That’s because Buffalo (13-3) played one less game than Kansas City (14-3) and missed the chance to earn the top spot. On October 16, the Bills defeated the Chiefs 24–20 and would have won the tiebreak had the teams finished with the same record. Buffalo lost 42-36 to Kansas City in last season’s classic divisional round.

The Chiefs will play the AFC title game against every other team, including the third-place Bengals (12–4).

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL





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