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NFL Divisional Playoff Round Recap
- Updated: January 17, 2016
Chiefs 20-Patriots 27: The Patriots’ late-season slump didn’t mean much when the playoffs came to New England. Kansas City’s 11-game winning streak mattered even less. With Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman coming back from injuries to help Tom Brady return to his Super Bowl MVP form, the Patriots earned a spot in the AFC title game for the fifth year in a row, beating the Chiefs 27-20 on Saturday. “It’s pretty special to get back to another AFC championship game,” said Brady, who will play for the conference title for the 10th time in his career. “It’s pretty cool. It’s hard to do, man. You’ve got to grind throughout the entire year. There’s only four teams playing next week and we’re one of them. That game means a lot.”
Packers 20-Cardinals 26 (OT): After being forced into overtime by another Hail Mary from Aaron Rodgers, the Arizona Cardinals wasted no time calling for the “Hail Larry” to get to the NFC Championship Game. On the first play of overtime, Carson Palmer spun away from a defender and threw across his body to an uncovered Larry Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald darted through tacklers for 75 yards as the screaming Cardinals fans finally drowned out the visiting Cheeseheads. He was tackled at the 5. On the next play, Palmer shoveled the ball to Fitzgerald who ran it in to give the Cardinals a 26-20 victory over the Packers Saturday night.
Seahawks 24-Panthers 31: Four games into his playoff career, Cam Newton recognizes the key element to success. He calls it “Big Mo.” There couldn’t have been a better example than Carolina’s 31-24 victory over Seattle on Sunday. After emphatically backing up their superb regular season with one of the most dominating halves in football history, the Panthers hung on in the face of a furious Seahawks rally to survive. “The playoffs bring out, more than any other time, the impact of ‘Big Mo,'” Newton said after Carolina (16-1) moved into the NFC title game, which it will host next Sunday against Arizona (14-3). “Momentum. We can’t wait for no one to make plays for us.”
Steelers 16-Broncos 23: Peyton Manning rescued the butter-fingered Broncos with a late touchdown drive, and Denver advanced to the AFC championship game with a 23-16 win over Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. With Denver down 13-12 with less than 10 minutes left, cornerback Bradley Roby punched the ball from Fitzgerald Toussaint’s arms, and DeMarcus Ware recovered at the Denver 35-yard line. Then Manning went to work and drove Denver to its only touchdown. The Broncos (13-4) will host Tom Brady and the New England Patriots (13-4) next weekend. It will be Manning vs. Brady XVII.