Sunday, January 10, 2016

NFL: Seahawks, Steelers advance

Missed field goal gives Seahawks frigid Wild Card win


Minnesota Vikings kicker Blair Walsh missed a 27-yard field goal attempt with 26 seconds to play to gift the Seattle Seahawks with a bone-chilling 10-9 NFC Wild Card win in the frigid Twin Cities on Sunday.

Walsh, who had hit on 22, 43 and 47 yard field goals, looked poised to send a chilled Minnesota crowd home happy until he pulled his game-winning attempt wide left leaving both teams and a packed TCF Bank stadium crowd stunned.

"Crazy things happen in the playoffs," said Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson. "It was an ugly game, we didn't play very well on offense and that's on me. I take the blame for that we've got to be better.

"But we won, we kept battling. That is the great thing about it, you have to keep battling in the playoffs, you have to keep battling every opportunity you've got.

"Defense was lights out, they made so many big plays that kept us in the game."

As the lowest remaining seed in the NFC at number six the Seahawks, bidding for a third straight appearance in the Super Bowl, will now head to Charlotte next weekend for a divisional showdown with the number one ranked Carolina Panthers.


Brutish Bengals gift Steelers wild card victory


The Pittsburgh Steelers secured a last-ditch 18-16 victory over bitter rivals the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday, coming out on top of an ill-tempered AFC Wild Card game to extend the home team's long wait for a playoff win.

The contest seemed to be safely in Cincinnati's hands after they fought back from a 15-0 deficit with 16 fourth-quarter points and seized control of the ball with less than two minutes remaining on a Vontaze Burfict interception.

However, as the Bengals endeavored to run out the clock and secure a first playoff victory since 1991, running back Jeremy Hill fumbled after a hit by linebacker Ryan Shazier and the Steelers recovered deep in their own territory.

Inspired by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's return to the game after he was earlier withdrawn with a shoulder injury following a bone-jarring sack, Pittsburgh marched down the field.

In the dying seconds, the Steelers benefited from a pair of personal foul calls, a ferocious late hit to the head by Burfict on an incomplete pass to Antonio Brown and another 15-yard foul on cornerback Adam Jones in the ensuing melee.

That set up a game-winning, 35-yard field goal by Chris Boswell with 14 seconds left.


Punishment expected after Bengals-Steelers ugly Wild Card

Larry Fine, Reuters

Their previous meeting resulted in nearly $140,000 in fines and more punishment is likely to come from the NFL following Saturday's outrageous Wild Card playoff between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals.

The National Football League has been striving to make the inherently violent game safer for players, but the contest instead showcased the reckless side of the sport.

Nine officials were stationed in a line across the entire Paul Brown Stadium field prior to the playoff game, won by Pittsburgh 18-16, to separate bitter AFC North rivals who had scuffled before the start of their encounter last month.

Peace reigned Saturday until the kickoff, when bad blood between the teams flowed with head-high hits, personal fouls and unsportsmanlike conduct calls that even involved coaches from both sides.


Blame me says Vikings kicker after miss

Agence France-Presse

Minnesota Vikings kicker Blair Walsh offered no excuses on Sunday after missing an easy field goal that cost his side a win in their wild card duel with the Seattle Seahawks.

With only 26 seconds left, Walsh incredibly pulled a 27-yard chip shot wide of the uprights to allow Seattle to hang on to clinch a 10-9 victory.

While some focused on the fact that holder Jeff Locke left the ball's laces facing Walsh, the Vikings kicker claimed sole responsibility for the nightmare miss.

"I can tell you this: It's my fault. I don't care if you give me a watermelon (to kick), I should be able to put that through," Walsh said. "Jeff did his job, (long snapper) Kevin (McDermott) did his job. I'm the only one who didn't do my job there. That's on me."