In two incredibly strange games this weekend, the Dallas Cowboys and Carolina Panthers have each moved on past Wild Card Weekend to play for a shot to make the NFC Championship Game in the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs. While Carolina defeated Arizona in one of the sloppiest playoff games in recent memory, Dallas’ defeat of the Detroit Lions has sparked controversy over a questionable call by officials.
The 7-8-1 Carolina Panthers became only the second team in NFL history to make the playoffs with a losing record. They hosted the NFC Wild Card winning Arizona Cardinals who made the playoffs with an 11-5 record. From the get go, this matchup was filled with punts and turnovers galore. However, despite sloppy play and even sloppier weather, the Carolina Panthers defense was absolutely stifling. Arizona held a one point lead at the half but would go on to be shut out for the rest of the game, recording only 12 yards of total offense in the third and fourth quarters combined. Defensive captain Luke Kuechly would serve as the hero for the Carolina Panthers, recording 10 total tackles, two pass deflections, and an interception en route to the best team defensive effort in NFL playoff history and the Panthers first playoff victory since 2005. Carolina will face the number one seed Seattle Seahawks at Century Link Field next weekend.
Sunday in Jerry World, the Dallas Cowboys hosted the Detroit Lions in a playoff game that will be questioned for quite some time. From the first whistle, Detroit looked in control and on pace for an upset of the NFC East champs. Matt Stafford entered the contest winless against teams with winning records on the road, but with a 10-point lead and momentum entering the second half in Dallas, the ex-Georgia Bulldog looked certain to correct that record. DeMarco Murray and Terrance Williams found the end zone and Dan Bailey nailed a field goal to result in a 20-17 Lions lead late in the fourth quarter. On a crucial third down towards the end of the game, a flag thrown on an evident defensive pass interference call against the Cowboys was picked up by a referee after the call. This picked up flag forced Detroit to punt, which led to a Tony Romo game-winning touchdown pass to Terrance Williams. With the win, Dallas advances to the Frozen Tundra where they will face the Green Bay Packers.
As the NFC postseason heads into the divisional round, football fans everywhere are gearing up for even more thrilling NFL action an the suspense of which two teams will compete at the Conference Championship. With Super Bowl XLIX getting even closer, the competition is fiercer than ever, which will provide for even more great match-ups with teams fighting to the very end so don’t miss am minute of the action coming next weekend.