The Road to San Diego
The playoffs are on, and San Diego is the goal
The playoffs are on, and San Diego is the goal

Posted Jan 6, 2003


No matter who actually gets to the Super Bowl, the game will be played in San Diego. Wildcard weekend provided some surprises and some great games as is the way of the NFL. On Saturday, the Jets beat Indianapolis 41-0, and the Falcons upset Green Bay at Lambeau, 27-7. On Sunday, Pittsburgh came back to beat Cleveland 36-33 and San Francisco came back to beat the Giants 39-38.

In the early game Saturday the NY Jets dominated the Indianapolis Colts in every facet of the game 41-0. In fact in the second half of the game Curtis Martin was rested in anticipation of next week. Chad Pennington, termed “the franchise” by teammates was 19-25 with 222 yards and three touchdowns. The defense threw Peyton Manning (14-31, 137 yards) off with multiple looks that caused Manning to audible right into the hands of the Jets.

In the end, the Jets just wanted a shutout and got it, which tied for the second biggest shutout win in league playoff history tying with the Giants who beat Minnesota by that score (41-0) in 1998. "I'm 82-0 in my last two playoffs here," said safety Sam Garnes, who was with those Giants. "It definitely feels good to do 41-0 as a Jet."

Atlanta then went into Lambeau Field to face Green Bay and did something no team has ever done, win a playoff game there. "That's what we were talking about all week, the winning streak in the playoffs. It had to come to an end," Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick said.

With Green Bay banged up, the Atlanta defense had a field day in forcing the hand of Brett Farve (20-42, 247, one touchdown, two interceptions) and the Packers. The defense forced three fumbles, five turnovers total, and they blocked a punt which they fell on in the end zone. Vick was not spectacular (13-25, 117 yards, one touchdown, plus 64 yards rushing), but he played another error free game and turned negatives into positive winning 27-7.

Sunday was a game of comebacks. First Pittsburgh came back from a 17 point deficit to beat Cleveland in the waning seconds 36-33. With under a minute to go in the game the Steelers ended up with the game winner on a rush up the middle. Tommy Maddox (30-48, 367 yards, 3 touchdowns, 2 interceptions) threw thee touchdowns in the final 19 minutes to overcome early struggles.

Kelly Holcomb (26-43, 429 yards, three touchdowns, one interception) had one last chance to potentially tie the game but threw a pass to Andre King who could not get out of bounds before the clock ran out. They would have been within field goal range. "I don't think anybody in the building thought we weren't going to win," Browns quarterback Holcomb said. "I think everybody thought we were going to go on."

San Francisco then came back from 24 points down to beat the NY Giants at home. The Giants had a 38-14 lead with four minutes to go in the third quarter. Kerry Collins (29-43, 342 yards, four touchdowns, one interception) was on fire hitting Amani Toomer three separate times for touchdowns. With the lead the Giants went conservative and the 49ers capitalized. Jeff Garcia (27-44, 331 yards, three touchdowns, one interception, and 60yards rushing and one touchdown) too control of the game with his fancy footwork and delivered four straight scoring drives.

The Giants had one last chance to get the win with :06 seconds left. They lined up for a field goal attempt but the snap was bad and instead of trying to spike the ball directly into the ground and get another chance, Matt Allen tried to pass the ball downfield and it went incomplete as the Giants lost 39-38. "I was watching all these bad snaps and wondering: 'How many games are you going to lose over a snap?' It was frustrating," long snapper Trey Junkin said earlier this week.

The Jets will play in Oakland on Sunday at 1:30 PM PST. It is safe to say Chargers fans have become Jets fans for the week.

The Falcons play in Philadelphia Saturday at 5 PM PST. Donovan McNabb is expected to start for Philly.

The Steelers play at Tennessee on Saturday at 1:30 PM PST. Steve McNair is well rested after battling nagging injuries.

The 49ers play at Tampa Bay on Sunday at 10 PM PST. Brad Johnson may be back if his sore back is fully healed.


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