Lamar Jackson gets 1st playoff win, Brees to play Brady
The NFC divisional round will give fans a third-time treat: another meeting between old-timers Tom Brady and Drew Brees.
Possibly the final one.
Brees assured that the NFC South rival Saints and Buccaneers will meet once more, throwing for two touchdowns in a 21-9 victory over Chicago. The New Orleans quarterback, who turns 42 on Friday — one year younger than Tampa Bay’s star — is toying with retirement, but with the way the Saints defense is playing, a second trip to the Super Bowl is not a long shot.
Tampa Bay (12-5) defeated Washington 31-23 on Saturday. The Bucs will travel to New Orleans next Sunday night.
“The minute that he signed with the Bucs and came to the division, you felt like that was going to be a team to contend with, that was going to be a team that would have playoff aspirations and beyond, just like us,” Brees said of meeting Brady in the playoffs for the first time. “So, I guess it was inevitable.”
The other NFC game next weekend will be on Saturday as Green Bay (13-3 and coming off a bye) hosts the Los Angeles Rams (11-6), who downed Seattle this weekend.
In the AFC, After two postseason flops, Lamar Jackson was his usual dynamic and decisive self in leading the Ravens to a 20-13 wild-card victory at Tennessee.
Buffalo, a winner Saturday over Indianapolis, will host one AFC division-rounder next Saturday night, while Kansas City (14-2 and also coming off a bye) will be at home next Sunday afternoon.
Saints 21, Bears 9
Michael Thomas and Latavius Murray caught Brees’ touchdown passes, and Alvin Kamara rushed for 99 yards and a 3-yard scoring run after sitting out the regular-season finale and not practicing this past week because of COVID-19 protocols. On defense, New Orleans (13-4) held Chicago (8-9) to 247 yards, just 48 rushing.
Ravens 20, Titans 13
Some first steps are far longer than others. Such as what Jackson achieved Sunday. He isn’t in any way the only reason Baltimore is advancing — the defense shut down 2,000-yard rusher Derrick Henry like no other team has come close to doing. Jackson ran for 136 yards and a 48-yard touchdown while throwing for 179 more, rallying the Ravens from a 10-0 hole. The Ravens (12-5) went 21 straight losses in either the regular season or playoffs when trailing by 10 or more points. Henry had his worst performance this season with 18 carries for 40 yards and the Titans (11-6) were held to their fewest points of the season.
Brady showed why he was so responsible for the Patriots’ two-decade dynasty. While leading his new team, the Buccaneers (12-5), to their first playoff win since Tampa Bay won the 2002 championship, Brady extended his record for playoff victories to 31. He threw for 381 yards and two touchdowns in his 42nd postseason start.
Bills 27, Colts 24
At Buffalo, there actually was a playoff game played, for the first time in 15 years. And won by the Bills, the AFC East champions for the first time since 1995. Josh Allen threw two touchdown passes and scored another rushing, and the Bills (14-3) knocked down a desperation pass by Philip Rivers to end the game. The Bills have won seven in a row.
Rams 30, Seahawks 20
At Seattle, a staunch defensive performance by the league’s top-ranked unit lifted Los Angeles (11-6) into the divisional round. The Rams, even with unanimous All-Pro DT Aaron Donald sitting out much of the second half with a rib injury, rattled Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, sacking him five times and getting a pick-6 from Darious Williams. LA also shut down the Seattle rushing attack.