Home Teams Reign on Wild Card Saturday
Darren Sproles pulled a Michael Turner, while Michael Turner was nowhere to be seen. With superstar Ladanian Tomlinson banged up for the second consecutive postseason matchup with the Indianapolis Colts, a Chargers backup running back carried his team to victory. The 5’6″ Sproles amassed 328 total yards on 35 touches with a combination of rushing, receiving, punt and kick returns; third most in NFL post-season history. It was only fitting that he tallied the winning score on a 22 yard run in OT to top the favored Colts 23-17. MVP Peyton Manning stood helplessly on the sidelines as the Chargers received the opening kickoff in overtime and drove down the field on the Colts defense to pull the upset win.
Meanwhile, San Diego’s hero last season, Michael “The Burner” Turner could not lead the resurgent Falcons to a road victory over the home-dog Cardinals, as the Cards held on for the 30-24 win . Kurt Warner and the air attack were the key to the Cardinals success throughout the season, but Arizona’s defense stood out for me, holding Turner to 42 rushing yards and a TD. Offensive Rookie of the Year Matt Ryan responded well to a 14-3 deficit, leading the upstart Falcons to a 17-14 halftime lead, but an early third quarter fumble recovery proved to be the turning point. Arizona’s Darnell Dockett perfectly timed the snap count, stormed into the backfield and forced a fumble on the exchange between Ryan and Turner. Antrel Rolle picked the ball out of midair and rumbled 27 yards for the game-changing touchdown, capping it with a Dirty Bird Dance of his own. This was the first Cardinals home playoff win since the 1947 playoffs as the Chicago Cardinals in old Comiskey Park.
Despite their underdog status, both home teams got the job done on Saturday. It goes to show how difficult it is to win on the road in the playoffs. Let’s see if the Ravens and Eagles are up to the task on Sunday.