Purdy, Lawrence, Jones have memorable NFL playoff debuts
A trio of NFL playoff quarterback newcomers provided some memorable playoff moments.
Brock Purdy, Trevor Lawrence and Daniel Jones all won in their first career starts in the postseason with performances for the history books. This marked the first time since the 2017 season that three QBs won in their first playoff starts in the same postseason.
Purdy started the weekend for San Francisco by throwing for 332 yards and three touchdowns and running for another score in a 41-23 victory over Seattle on Saturday.
Purdy became the first rookie quarterback to account for four touchdowns in a playoff game as he became the first rookie QB to win a playoff start since Russell Wilson in 2012.
Picked 262nd in the draft as “Mr. Irrelevant,” Purdy was the lowest-drafted rookie quarterback to win a playoff start, going 110 spots after T.J. Yates, who won for Houston in 2011.
The only rookie QBs to throw for more yards in a playoff game than Purdy are Wilson, who threw for 385 yards against Atlanta in his second playoff start in 2012, and Hall of Famer Sammy Baugh, who had 335 in his first playoff start against Chicago in 1937.
Lawrence, the No. 1 overall pick in 2021, followed it up with a roller-coaster performance against the Chargers.
Lawrence followed up four first-half interceptions with four TD passes to lead the Jaguars to the third-biggest comeback in playoff history when they rallied from 27-0 down to beat the Chargers 31-30 on Saturday night.
The only bigger playoff comebacks came when Buffalo rallied from 35-3 down to beat Houston 41-38 in overtime on Jan. 3, 1993, and when Indianapolis came back from a 38-10 deficit to beat Kansas City 45-44 on Jan. 4, 2014.
The comeback was the third by the Jaguars from at least 16 points down in their last 10 games, after doing it once in the first 455 games as a franchise. Jacksonville had been 1-125 when trailing by at least 16 points before this recent run that started with a 27-20 win over Las Vegas in Week 9 after getting down 17-0.
Lawrence joined Ben Roethlisberger (2020 season against Cleveland) as the only QBs with at least four TD passes and four interceptions in the same game.
Jones took until his fourth season to make it to the postseason but made the wait worthwhile when he threw for 301 yards and rushed for 78 yards in a 31-24 win over Minnesota.
Jones joined Steve Young and Lamar Jackson as the only QBs to throw for at least 300 yards and rush for at least 70 yards in a playoff game. But Jones is the first to do it in a win and the first to do it with at least two TD passes.
The wins by the Cowboys and Giants, gave the NFC East three teams in the divisional round with first-place Philadelphia having gotten a bye.
This marked just the third time three teams in one division advanced this far in the postseason with it last happening in 1997 when NFC Central teams Minnesota, Green Bay and Tampa Bay did.
The other team it happened also was in the NFC in 1992 when the Cowboys, Eagles and Washington all made it to the divisional round.
Since the NFL expanded the playoffs to seven teams per conference in 2020, none of the extra teams to get in have won a game.
Seattle lost 41-23 to San Francisco in the NFC on Saturday and Miami fell 34-31 against Buffalo, dropping the combined record of the seventh seeds to 0-6.
The average margin of victory from those games has been 12.2 points per game with only two decided by less than 12 points, including Buffalo’s 27-24 win over Indianapolis two years ago.
JUST FOR KICKS
Dallas kicker Brett Maher had a game to forget.
Maher missed his first four extra point tries in the win over Tampa Bay — twice as many missed extra points than any kicker had ever had in a playoff game.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, no kicker had ever missed four extra points in a game since they first began tracked for kickers in 1932.
Only one other kicker in the last 29 seasons had even missed three extra points in any game with Matt Gay doing it for Tampa Bay against Atlanta in 2019.
Maher made his last try but Tampa Bay went for 2-point conversions after both TDs, leading to one made extra point on seven touchdowns. This is the third time in the last 50 years that a game had at least seven TDs and one or fewer made extra points.
Philadelphia and Detroit had one missed extra point and seven 2-point conversion attempts in an Eagles 34-20 win in 2013; and Indianapolis and Baltimore combined for one made extra point following seven TDs in the Ravens 31-25 overtime win in 2021.
RETURN TO SENDER
The Bengals win over the Ravens turned on one of the most improbable plays in playoff history.
Tyler Huntley lost a fumble trying to stretch the ball over the goal line in the fourth quarter of a tied game and Sam Hubbard picked it up and ran 98 yards for the game-winning touchdown for Cincinnati.
The play was the longest fumble return score in postseason history and tied for the fourth longest defensive touchdown ever in the playoffs. According to the NFL NextGen stats model, the play increased the Bengals win probability from 45.8% to 87.6%.
The only longer defensive TDs in postseason history were Taron Johnson’s 101-yard interception return for Buffalo against Baltimore on Jan. 16, 2021; George Teague’s 101-yard pick-6 for Green Bay against Detroit on Jan. 8 1994; and James Harrison’s 100-yard interception return for Pittsburgh against Arizona in the Super Bowl following the 2008 season.
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