The Newsroom reviews results in the NFL’s second week of playoffs.
The Patriots continue their march
The New England Patriots defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 27-20 in Fox Borough, Massachusetts, to advance to the AFC Conference Championships next week.
Patriots tight-end Rob Gronkowski, returning from knee and back injuries, scored a double for the match. He opened proceedings with a magical touchdown set up by star player Tom Brady. His second came in the third quarter, also set up by Brady, when he became NFL’s all-time leader in postseason touchdown receptions (8) by a tight end, beating Vernon Davis and Dave Casper’s old record. Gronkowski finished the match with seven receives for 82 yards. Brady was instrumental in tearing the Chiefs to shreds, completing 28 passes, throwing 302 yards and capping his performance with a cheeky individual touchdown. The Chiefs were gallant in defeat but the Patriots were simply too good for them, ending the Chiefs winning streak of 11 games.
The Patriots have to beat the Denver Broncos next to secure a spot at Super Bowl 50 in San Francisco.
Arizona survive Green Bay in extra time
The Arizona Cardinals defeated the Green Bay Packers 26-20 in overtime to advance to the NFC Conference Championships. The Cardinals drew first blood with a touchdown to lead 7-6 at half-time. Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer threw three touchdowns and completed 25 passes for 349 yards. The Cardinals may have thought they had it in the bag with a lead of seven in the last minute but the Packers miraculously hit back with an all-or-nothing 41-yard ball from Aaron Rodgers for Jeff Janis to touchdown at the bell, taking the game into overtime. Larry Fitzgerald put the icing on the Cardinals’ cake, touching down to secure the win.
Next week the Cardinals take on the red-hot Carolina Panthers for a spot at the Super Bowl.
Carolina Panthers’ dream run continues
The Carolina Panthers defeated the Seattle Seahawks 31-24 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Panthers were dominant from the start, posting 31 points in the first half as quarterback Cam Newton proved too hard for the Seahawks to handle, completing 16 passes for one touchdown and 161 yards. Panthers running back Johnathan Stewart scored a double while tight-end Greg Olsen also scored. The Hawks surged back in the second half to score 24 unanswered points but just couldn’t complete the job as they ran out of time. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson threw three touchdowns, two of them for wide-receiver Jermaine Kearse. Wilson completed 31 passes for 366 yards.
Manning delivers to help Denver down Steelers
The Denver Broncos defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 23-16 in Denver, Colorado. Pittsburgh were in front by one (10-9) at half-time with star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger putting on a show for fans despite a serious shoulder injury, and completing 24 passes for 339 yards. The 39-year-old Broncos star Peyton Manning, returning from several weeks off with an ankle injury, was patchy but rose to the occasion, securing a win with a late drive touchdown by C.J. Anderson, who crash over with three minutes remaining to gain a winning margin. Peyton Manning completed 21 passes for just 222 yards but saved the day for Denver.
The win sets up a tantalising showdown next week between two legendary quarterback greats, Manning and the New England Patriots’ 38-year-old Tom Brady. – Jesse Mullens
Photo shows Rob Gronkowski slamming the ball down for a touchdown – from the New England Patriots Facebook page.