The New Orleans Saints got matched up in a divisional rival for their Wild Card game on Sunday afternoon, which boded well for them due to their success against the division. The Saints took down the Carolina Panthers for a third straight time this season, 31-26, to advance to the Divisional Round. Drew Brees threw for 376 yards and two touchdowns, as the Saints held off a late comeback attempt by Carolina at home. Cam Newton found Greg Olsen and Christian McCaffrey in the end zone in the fourth quarter, but Carolina was held to four field goals in the first three quarters, which haunted them. They did threaten at the Saints' 25-yard line with 58 seconds left, but a sack on Newton, and then an intentional grounding penalty that forced a 10-second runoff pretty much sealed the Panthers' fate. Vonn Bell recorded the official game-sealing sack after an incompletion in the end zone, earning the Saints their first playoff win in four seasons. They will move on to face the Minnesota Vikings on the road in the Divisional Round next Sunday, with the Atlanta Falcons matching up with the Philadelphia Eagles in the other NFC pairing.
Jaguars Shut Down Bills in Tough Wild Card Win
It was not the prettiest playoff game to watch on Sunday afternoon, but it doesn't matter how you get there, you just have to get there. In what was the lowest-scoring Wild Card game in NFL history, the Jacksonville Jaguars took down the Buffalo Bills, 10-3, to advance to the Divisional Round to battle the Pittsburgh Steelers. The game featured 14 punts, but one decent drive that ended with a one-yard touchdown pass from Blake Bortles to Ben Koyack in the third quarter was the difference for the Jags. The third-seeded Jaguars were in their first playoff game since January 2008, sending the Bills home after they ended the longest playoff drought in North American sports. Bortles finished 12-of-23 for just 87 yards, but his touchdown on fourth-and-goal led his team to their first home playoff win since 1997. Buffalo lost quarterback Tyrod Taylor in the fourth quarter after he was slammed head first into the ground with 1:27 left in the game. Nathan Peterman took over and converted on a fourth down play before throwing the game-sealing interception to Jalen Ramsey. The Bills out-gained the Jaguars, 263-230, with 119 of those yards coming from LeSean McCoy, who was questionable all week due to a bad ankle. Jacksonville will head to Pittsburgh next Sunday, where they've already won once this season when they forced five interceptions from Ben Roethlisberger.
Michigan State Falls to Ohio State in Blowout
The Ohio State Buckeyes have shown signs of being competitive in the Big Ten, and they made it official on Sunday that they are a legitimate threat. The Buckeyes used a late first half run to shut down the top-ranked Michigan State Spartans, 80-64, in Columbus. Keita Bates-Diop put up a career-high 32 points for Ohio State, who moved to 4-0 in Big Ten play and possibly gave themselves a spot in the AP Top 25. The Spartans dropped their first game since a seven-point loss to then No. 1 Duke on November 14th, which spanned 15 games. They trailed by 12 at the break and by as many as 19 in the game and shot just 39 percent from the floor in the loss. Joshua Langford and Miles Bridges finished with 17 points apiece in their second loss of the year, and first in conference play. Bates-Diop shot 12-of-21 from the floor just days after tying his previous career high of 27 points against Iowa. C.J. Jackson added 14 points for the Buckeyes, who earned their first win over a top-ranked team since taking down then No. 1 Wisconsin, 49-48, in 2007 as the No. 2 team in the country. They will look to stay perfect in conference play when they host Maryland on Thursday. The Spartans move on to host Rutgers on Wednesday before another rivalry matchup with the Michigan Wolverines in East Lansing on Saturday.