By Danny Cox
With one more weekend down in the 2012 NFL season, there are now only four teams remaining. The San Francisco 49ers, Atlanta Falcons, New England Patriots, and Baltimore Ravens are all that have survived into the AFC and NFC Conference Championship weekend, and it’s going to be a good one.
Starting off the action in the divisional round of the playoffs was an upset of unexpected proportions. Peyton Manning had led his Denver Broncos to a fantastic 13-3 regular season and a first-round bye in the playoffs, but it wasn’t enough to make Ray Lewis hang up the cleats just yet.
In what is always “one last game” for Lewis, the Baltimore Ravens defeated the Broncos 38-35 in double overtime. With less than a minute left to go, Joe Flacco through a 70-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 38 and send it into overtime.
Both teams were able to stalemate the other in the first extra session, but it took less than two minutes for the Ravens to kick a field goal in the second overtime and win it to stay alive. They will now head out to New England for an AFC Conference Championship game with the Patriots.
New England was able to take down the mighty Houston Texans 41-28 in a game that never quite seemed as close as the final score shows. Even though Tom Brady and the Pats won by 13, the Texans could never quite stay in it.
Whether it was needing a stop on that third down or recovering an onside kick; it was New England getting the big play instead of Houston. With that, the Patriots were able to overcome some injuries and make it within one game of the Super Bowl in New Orleans.
Over in the NFC, upsets weren’t in the cards, but record-breaking was. San Francisco defeated the Green Bay Packers 45-31 due to the play of quarterback Colin Kaepernick. While he did perform admirably with 263 yards passing and two touchdowns, it was actually his rushing game that took over the contest.
Kaepernick set an NFL record for a quarterback as he rushed for 181 yards on 16 carries and two touchdowns in a dominating performance at CandlestickPark. Michael Crabtree helped his totals through the air with 119 yards on nine receptions, but an all-around fantastic game from the young quarterback helped the Niners advance to their second straight NFC Conference Championship game.
San Francisco has looked great this season, but they’re going to have to travel to Atlanta and defeat the Falcons in order to advance to the Super Bowl.
The second NFC divisional game saw the Falcons build a 20-0 halftime lead, but then have to fend off the Seattle Seahawks’ monster rally. Russell Wilson and the Seahawks dominated the second half and even went ahead 28-27 to make it a second straight playoff game in which they had come back from 14 or more points.
A field goal in the final minute helped Atlanta prevail and win 30-28, but they did not look as dominating as they had at points throughout the season. Well, they did for the first 30 minutes, but not for the second 30. If they’re looking to advance to New Orleans, it is going to take a full game from the Falcons to take down the mighty 49ers.
- Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013 at 3:00 p.m. – San Francisco 49ers at Atlanta Falcons on FOX
- Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013 at 0:00 p.m. – Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots on CBS
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Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. His work can be found on Examiner.com.