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NFL Playoff Recap – Divisional Round

Hakeem Nicks Hail Mary Catch
Jonathan Daniel, Getty Images

The New York Giants were the only road team to win in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs this weekend.
Meanwhile, San Francisco and New England won the right to host their conference’s championship game next Sunday. Here’s a recap of all of this weekend’s NFL action:

Sunday, Jan. 15

N.Y. Giants 37 – Green Bay 20

Eli Manning threw for 330 yards and three touchdowns, and the New York Giants upset the Green Bay Packers 37-20 on Sunday. Manning’s 37-yard touchdown heave to Hakeem Nicks at the end of the first half gave New York a 20-10 lead. Green Bay never got closer than seven points in the second half, as the Giants pulled away late. New York will travel to San Francisco next Sunday to face the 49ers in the NFC championship game.

The New York victory came four years after the Giants beat the Packers in the NFC title game prior to defeating New England in the Super Bowl. Despite a 15-1 regular season record and a partisan Lambeau Field crowd, the Packers looked flat on Sunday. They committed four turnovers in the game after giving the ball away just 14 times all season.

Nicks caught seven passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns for the Giants. Ahmad Bradshaw ran for 63 yards for New York. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers completed 26 of 46 passes for 264 yards, two touchdowns and an interception for Green Bay. He was sacked four times and fumbled once. Rodgers also led the Packers with 66 rushing yards. Green Bay receiver Donald Driver caught three passes for 45 yards, including a touchdown.

Baltimore 20 – Houston 13

Lardarius Webb and Ed Reed had fourth quarter interceptions to thwart scoring drives, and the Baltimore Ravens beat the Houston Texans 20-13 on Sunday afternoon. Baltimore led 17-3 after the first quarter and held on for the victory thanks to mistake-free play. The Ravens had no penalties or turnovers during the game. Their dominant defense intercepted Texans’ rookie quarterback T.J. Yates a total of three times and had four takeaways. Baltimore will travel to New England next Sunday to face the Patriots in the AFC championship game.

Ravens’ quarterback Joe Flacco completed 14 of 27 passes for 176 yards and two scores. Running back Ray Rice ran for 60 yards for the Ravens, while teammate Anquan Boldin had four receptions for 73 yards and a touchdown. Texans’ receiver Andre Johnson had eight catches for 111 yards, while teammate Arian Foster carried 27 times for 132 yards and Houston’s only touchdown of the game. Yates finished with 184 yards and the three costly interceptions.

Saturday, Jan. 14

San Francisco 36 – New Orleans 32

Alex Smith threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Vernon Davis with 9 seconds to play, and the San Francisco 49ers beat the New Orleans Saints 36-32 on Saturday. San Francisco’s game-winning score came at the end of a thrilling fourth quarter that saw four lead changes in the final four minutes. The 49ers will host the New York Giants next Sunday in the NFC championship game.

The 49ers raced to an early 17-0 lead. They were still ahead 23-17, when New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees passed to running back Darren Sproles, who zipped through the San Francisco defense for a 44-yard touchdown that gave the Saints a 24-23 lead with 4:02 to play. On the ensuing drive, Smith ran down the left sideline for a 28-yard touchdown to give his team a 29-24 edge. Brees then connected with tight end Jimmy Graham for a 66-yard score that gave the Saints the lead and set the stage for the 49ers’ game-winning drive.

Smith completed 24 of 42 passes for 299 yards and three touchdowns for San Francisco. Davis caught seven passes for 180 yards, including two scores. Running back Frank Gore ran for 89 yards for the 49ers. Brees completed 40 of 63 passes for 462 yards and four touchdowns. He was intercepted twice. Sproles had 15 receptions for 119 yards, including a score for the Saints. Marques Colston caught nine passes for 136 yards and a touchdown for New Orleans, while his teammate Graham had five catches for 103 yards, including two touchdowns. The Saints committed five turnovers.

New England 45 – Denver 10

Tom Brady tied an NFL record with six touchdown passes in a post-season game, including five in the first half, as the New England Patriots routed the Denver Broncos 45-10 on Saturday night. New England led 35-7 at halftime, as Brady threw touchdown passes of 10, 12 and 19 yards to tight end Rob Gronkowski, as well as additional scoring tosses of seven yards to Wes Welker and 61 yards to Deion Branch. The Patriots’ defense kept Denver quarterback Tim Tebow in check by sacking him five times. New England will host the Baltimore Ravens next Sunday in the AFC championship game.

Brady completed 26 of 34 passes for 363 yards, the six touchdowns and one interception.  Gronkowski finished with 10 catches for 145 yards and the three scores. Fellow Patriots’ tight end Aaron Hernandez ran five times for 61 yards and had four receptions for 55 yards. Willis McGahee carried 17 times for 76 yards and the Broncos’ only touchdown. Tebow completed just nine of 26 passes for 136 yards. He also fumbled once. Demaryius Thomas caught six passes for 93 yards for Denver.

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