With the NFL playoff field whittled down to four teams, the schedule shows three have repeated as conference finalists this season.
Following the highest-scoring four-game playoff weekend in league history, New England, Baltimore and San Francisco are joined by Atlanta as the four remaining NFL teams still eligible for a chance to win Super Bowl XLVII. The Patriots and Ravens will meet in Foxboro, Massachusetts on Sunday night in a rematch of last year’s AFC championship game. The 49ers will face the Falcons in Atlanta on Sunday afternoon in the AFC final.
Tom Brady set an NFL record by winning his 17th postseason game, throwing for 344 yards and three touchdowns on Sunday in a 41-28 AFC semifinal victory over Houston. Shane Vereen caught two TD passes and ran for another score. Wes Welker caught eight passes for 131 yards. Matt Schaub threw two touchdowns for the Texans, while Arian Foster caught a scoring pass and ran for a score.
In the other AFC semifinal, played in sub-teen temperatures in Denver on Saturday night, rookie Justin Tucker kicked a 47-yard field goal in the early stages of the second overtime, lifting Baltimore passed top-seeded Denver 38-35. The Ravens took advantage of a late interception of a Peyton Manning pass to advance to the next round. Joe Flacco threw for 331 yards and three TD’s for Baltimore, while Ray Rice rushed for 131 yards. Denver’s star was Trinton Holliday who became the first NFL player ever to run back both a kickoff return and a punt return for touchdowns in the same playoff game.
In the NFC semifinals, Colin Kaepernick threw two touchdown passes to Michael Crabtree and ran for a playoff record 183 yards and a score, and the San Francisco 49ers rolled to a 45-31 home victory over the Green Bay Packers. Frank Gore rushed for 199 yards and a score in the win. Aaron Rodgers threw for two touchdowns for the Packers.
And, Matt Bryant’s 49-yard field goal with eight seconds remaining lifted the Falcons to a shocking 30-28 victory over the Seattle Seahawks. The visiting team had seemingly finished a comeback from a 20-point fourth-quarter deficit on a touchdown run by Marshawn Lynch with 31 seconds left in the game, but a 29-yard pass completion from Matt Ryan to Harry Douglas and a 19-yard toss to Tony Gonzalez set up the game-winning kick. The finish marred a 385-yard, two touchdown performance by Seahawks rookie quarterback Russell Wilson.