The three-day playoff opener that the NFL dubbed “Super Wild Card Weekend” lived up to that billing on Saturday — super, wild and with a few wildcards thrown into the mix for good measure.
The first half of the San Francisco 49ers-Seattle Seahawks third installment of the season may have been surprisingly close – and Seattle’s 17-16 lead at intermission was definitely a surprise. But that was followed by four jaw-dropping quarterbacks of football that spanned the country from Santa Clara, California to Jacksonville, Florida – where the second game of the day between the host Jaguars and Los Angeles Chargers provided the one of the great comebacks in playoff history.
So many winners on Saturday… and almost as many losers:
Broc Purdy: Wow. The 49ers’ first-year quarterback — ‘Mr. Irrelevant’ as the last player selected in the 2022 NFL Draft — took his record to 6-0 in record fashion as the Niners bounced off the Seahawks 41 -23. Purdy became the first rookie in league history to score four touchdowns (three assists, one rush) in a playoff game and even got a shoutout from LeBron James. Before Purdy, the last rookie to win a postseason game was Seattle’s Russell Wilson in 2012. Before Purdy, the last seventh-round rookie QB to start a postseason game…was nobody, well that Skylar Thompson of the Miami Dolphins should become the second Sunday in Buffalo. Also on Saturday, Purdy joined Justin Herbert of the Los Angeles Chargers as the only rookies in league history to throw multiple TD passes in seven straight games, although Herbert’s run was entirely during the 2020 regular season.
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Buffalo Tickets: They won’t play until 1 p.m. ET on Sunday against Miami, but picked up a huge win on Saturday, when they reunited with teammate Damar Hamlin — just 12 days after suffering cardiac arrest on the Cincinnati field. Enough said.
The quarterbacks make their playoff debut: Saturday’s four QB1s — Purdy, Herbert, Geno Smith of the Seahawks and Trevor Lawrence of the Jacksonville Jaguars — were in their first postseason games. Three others are expected to join them on Sunday: Thompson, Daniel Jones of the New York Giants and Tyler Huntley (or Anthony Brown) of the Baltimore Ravens.
Worst to whoa: The Jaguars’ remarkable win on Saturday made them the first team to claim a playoff win this season after having the league’s worst record.
49ers offense: It was barely Purdy. San Francisco’s 505 yards were 51 better than their highest regular-season production. RB Christian McCaffrey (136) and WR Deebo Samuel (165) both had over 130 scrimmage yards and a touchdown.
DK Metcalf: Overall, he was the Seahawks’ offense, finishing with 10 receptions for 136 yards and a pair of touchdowns while imposing a physical presence against the Niners’ top-ranked defense that the rest of his teammates simply couldn’t. reproduce.
Tight Ends of Magazines: They did their best to fill the void created by WR Mike Williams’ injured back. Gerald Everett, Donald Parham Jr. and Tre ‘Mckitty combined for 12 receptions, 148 yards and a touchdown.
Robbie Gould: The San Francisco kicker converted four field goals and three extra points. In 14 playoff appearances, he never missed a kick — perfect on 25 FG tries and 37 for 37 on PATs.
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Travis Etienne Jr.: The Jags’ ‘other’ 2021 first-round pick (and Lawrence’s Clemson teammate), Etienne continued his superb sophomore season – he missed his entire rookie campaign with a Lisfranc injury – with a season-high of 121 yards from scrimmage, plenty of chunk variety that helped Jacksonville come back from a seemingly unrecoverable start.
Asante Samuel Jr.: The Chargers corner became the first player to complete three assists in the first half of a playoff game. If his dad’s hands had been this good, the New England Patriots would have gone 19-0 in 2007. (Sorry/not sorry, Boston.)
Sean Payton: Next Chargers coach? The rumor dragged on for weeks and seemed dead at one point on Saturday night… so no.
Doug Pederson: The Jacksonville coach didn’t panic, nor did his team, which steadily recovered against the Bolts. And let’s not forget Pederson’s bold decision with 5:25 to go and his side trailing 30-26 – that’s when Lawrence used his 6-6 frame to convert on a two-point try after the fourth TD of the team. That preceded a winning FG from Riley Patterson on the final game of the evening.
Trevor Lawrence in the second half: Wow. Eighteen of his 23 shots have found the mark, covering 211 yards and producing three touchdowns over the past two quarters. The performance of the No. 1 pick in the 2021 draft fueled an unlikely comeback – necessitated by his own ineptitude in the first 28 minutes of the game – propelling the Jags to a 31-30 triumph that marked the third-biggest comeback of playoff history (more on that later). Jacksonville became the first team in playoff history to overcome a turnover deficit of at least five.
First half Trevor Lawrence: Boy did Sunshine placed his team well (27-0), passing for all 77 yards while completing 10 of 24 passes — well, 14 of 24 when you count all four interceptions. Gary Danielson in 1983 was the last quarterback to serve four interceptions before halftime in a playoff game.
Brandon Staley: He wasn’t guilty of any questionable analysis plays on Saturday, and his team executed a first-half game plan that frustrated Lawrence and seemed enough to likely set up another round with the Kansas City Chiefs in the dividing tower. But the Chargers could only muster three points in the second half, had to use a third-string left tackle, crumbled defensively, lost their temper … and certainly could have used Williams, who Staley foolishly played during. of week 18, when he suffered the fracture in his back. The Bolts would be justified in retaining their brilliant, if stubborn, second-year coach … and would be equally justified if they moved on.
Herbert: Speaking of LA’s budding third-year superstar — yes, he didn’t have his favorite receiver on Saturday or proper protection, getting fired three times, hitting 10s and even soaking up a cheap shot from the rookie of the Jags OLB Travon Walker. This drew a flag, but no retribution from Herbert’s teammates. Still, as fun as it is to watch and the possibility that it could become Aaron Rodgers 2.0, it should have found a way to put this game on ice.
Bosa Bowl: Predicted NFL Defensive Player of the Year Nick Bosa had a great day, making five tackles (one for a loss) and recovering a fumble in San Francisco’s win. But big brother Joey had a tough night in Duval County – finishing with a tackle, a hit on Lawrence… two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties and an offside call that infuriated him while nullifying a third sack crucial from Lawrence and instead ended up extending a drive that ended with Jacksonville’s second TD. So Nick plays and Joey will have to watch from a fancy box.
Seahawks offensive line: Seattle’s five penalties were against its first five, not including a sixth that was disallowed, most falling into the category of mental errors. Smith has also been sacked three times.
Geno Smith: He wasn’t terrible considering what was happening in front of him, but Smith turned the ball over twice and failed to become the first quarterback in 22 years to win his playoff debut 10 years later. the beginning of his career. Now he is waiting for Seattle to make a decision as his contract expires at the end of what was otherwise a breakout campaign.
Detroit Lions: If they hadn’t lost to the Seahawks in Week 4, the Leos would have been in action on Saturday. And the way Dan Campbell’s team finished the season, you wonder if Detroit would have given the Niners four hellish quarterbacks instead of the two Seattle managed.
Johnathan Abram: There’s a reason the Raiders’ 2019 first-round pick is on his (Seahawks) third team of the season. There’s no reason for him to try to hurt another player, Samuel in Saturday’s case. Hobo. It also seemed to ignite San Francisco, who went 25 straight after dirty play.
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis.