Steelers, Packers Advance In NFL Playoffs
Published on January 9 2017 6:15 am
Last Updated on January 9 2017 6:15 am
Le'Veon Bell spent the last two Januarys watching helplessly while the Pittsburgh Steelers tried to make a deep postseason run without him. The ever fluid running back made up for lost time Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.
So did Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown, the other members of Pittsburgh's "Big Three" together in the playoffs for the first time.
Pounding away relentless at a defense that hardly seemed interested in stopping him at frigid Heinz Field, Bell ran for a franchise postseason record 167 yards and two scores . The Steelers overwhelmed the beaten-up and mistake-prone Miami Dolphins 30-12 on Sunday.
"We wanted to go out there and make a statement," Bell said.
Bell, Brown and Roethlisberger, who wore a walking boot on his right foot afterward, more than wiped away the bitter aftertaste of a 30-15 whipping at the hands of the Dolphins in mid-October. Given a shot at redemption, Pittsburgh didn't let it go to waste. The Steelers (12-5) led by two touchdowns before the game was 10 minutes old on long touchdown passes from Roethlisberger to Brown. Miami never got closer than 11.
"Le'Veon was beastly," said Brown, who finished with five receptions for 124 yards and the two scores. "All day, controlling the line of scrimmage, just running guys over and finding a way to put the ball in the end zone. Any time he's playing like that, we're going to be a hard team to beat."
Certainly, at least, teams like the Dolphins (10-7). Given a chance to prove their first playoff berth in eight years wasn't a fluke despite being outgained and outscored during the regular season, Miami never found a rhythm. The problem wasn't the single digit wind chill or a vicious hit absorbed by quarterback Matt Moore in the second quarter as much as it was the Steelers.
Pittsburgh sacked Moore five times, forced turnovers on three consecutive possessions in the middle of the game, and never really let the Dolphins up off the deck.
Packers 38, Giants 13
Aaron Rodgers, master of the Hail Mary pass, struck again in another big moment.
Rodgers overcame a sluggish start and finished with four touchdown passes, including a momentum-swinging 42-yard heave to Randall Cobb at the end of the second quarter, to lead the Green Bay Packers to a 38-13 win Sunday over the New York Giants in an NFC wild-card game.
The Packers move on to face the Dallas Cowboys in the divisional round next week.
Rodgers was 25 of 40 for 362 yards, continuing a remarkable run of quarterback play that helped the Packers win their final six games of the regular season to take the NFC North. Cobb finished with five receptions for 116 yards and three scores.
For much of the first half, the Giants' defense flustered the two-time NFL MVP. They got pressure on Rodgers and the secondary blanketed the Packers' talented receiving corps , and a few boos even rained down from the stands after New York built a 6-0 lead on two field goals by Robbie Gould.
As it turned out, Rodgers was just getting started.
"We hit a Hail Mary. That got us going," Rodgers said.
Green Bay scored two touchdowns in the final 2:20 of the second quarter, punctuated by another remarkable desperation pass by Rodgers.
Saturday, January 7 Scoreboard
Houston 27, Oakland 14
Seattle 26, Detroit 6
Sunday, January 8 Scoreboard
Pittsburgh 30, Miami 13
Green Bay 38, New York Giants 13
Saturday, January 14 Schedule (All Times Central)
Seattle at Atlanta, 3:35 p.m.
Houston at New England, 7:15 p.m.
Sunday, January 15 Schedule (All Times Central)
Pittsburgh at Kansas City, 12:05 p.m.
Green Bay at Dallas, 3:40 p.m.