NFL play-offs: Sky Sports reviews the wildcard weekend with the main talking points
By Paul Higham Twitter: @SkySportsPaulH. Last Updated: 06/01/14 6:53pm
A look back at the best pictures from a pulsating weekend of wildcard play-off action in the NFL.
It was indeed the wildest of wildcard weekend as the play-offs went off with a bang, and after taking a moment to breathe we take a look back at the main talking points from a pulsating weekend of pigskin action.
You could easily spend the entire day talking through the events on our very first game in Indianapolis when the Colts staged the second-biggest comeback ever in play-off history.
Overall we had 219 points, 3158 offensive yards and 24 touchdowns in just four games - three of which went right down to the wire with a combined victory margin of just six points!
Home not always sweet
There's been a lot made about revamping the play-offs so that teams with better records are rewarded with home games, maybe after this weekend they won't be so keen with three of the four winners coming on the road.
With so much talk also about the weather, two teams from California rubbished those suggestions with wins in bad conditions while even the Saints managed to break their play-off duck on the road - what home field advantage!?
Keep on running
While the QBs rightly grab the headlines, in play-off football you need to be able to run the ball to succeed, and that was the backbone behind wins for the Saints, Chargers and 49ers this weekend - and it will be key for the Super Bowl hopes going forward.
All three teams ran for over 150 yards. The Chargers put up the most yards rushing the Bengals have yielded all season, while both the 49ers and Saints ran the ball well and used it to control the clock late on to set up game-winning field goals - that's how you win play-off games.
Plus with the cold weather around, possible Conference Championship games in Seattle, Denver of New England, and a Super Bowl in New York, you better be able to run the ball and play in the cold to win it all this year.
The bungle in the Jungle
Andy Dalton is getting a reputation in the NFL with his consistent performances - sadly it's a bad reputation for his consistently awful showings in the play-offs, and he pulled out another won on Sunday as the Chargers won in Cincy.
The Bengals were unbeaten at home this season, have a great defence, one of the best receivers in the league and an exciting young running back, but Dalton just can't get it going once the post-season dance begins - as three straight losses, six interceptions and just one touchdown in his three seasons shows. His days could be numbered.
Cream rises to the top
In the four wildcard games the best quarterbacks emerged with the win - I'd still argue Rodgers is better than Kaepernick in general, but the 49ers man did the business this time around. Yes NFL is the ultimate team game but there's a reason the QBs are paid the big bucks - they win the big games.
Now to go along with Kaepernick, Brees, Rivers and Luck, Manning and Brady enter the play-off fray while Wilson and Newton should become elite quarterbacks themselves - proof that the 'franchise quarterback' teams crave do make all the difference.
Team (s) of destiny
One team always 'gets hot at the right time' to surge into the play-offs and then make an unexpected Super Bowl run - the last three winners have all played on wildcard weekend, but who is this year's team of destiny?
It's a bumper year for storylines - the Colts won their last three then produce an epic comeback win, the 49ers produce a flying six-win streak to make the play-offs then win at a frozen Green Bay, but the vote goes to the Chargers.
Winning four in a row and a handful of final day results elsewhere was somehow enough to sneak into the play-offs, via a missed field goal and a missed penalty by the officials, and then they win in Cincy. Next up is a return to Denver, where they've already won this season, and then there's the spooky trend of the last four Super Bowl winners being the opponents for the Eagle's home opener of the season - guess who that was this year?