The National Football League playoffs for the 2016 NFL season began on Saturday, January 7, 2017. The postseason tournament concluded with Super Bowl LI on Sunday, February 5, 2017, when the New England Patriots defeated the Atlanta Falcons at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.
Further information: NFL playoffs § Current playoff system
Within each conference, the four division winners and the two wild card teams (the top two non-division winners with the best overall regular season records) qualified for the playoffs. The four division winners are seeded 1 through 4 based on their overall won-lost-tied record, and the wild card teams are seeded 5 and 6. The NFL does not use a fixed bracket playoff system, and there are no restrictions regarding teams from the same division matching up in any round. In the first round, dubbed the wild-card playoffs or wild-card weekend, the third-seeded division winner hosts the sixth seed wild card, and the fourth seed hosts the fifth. The 1 and 2 seeds from each conference then receive a bye in the first round. In the second round, the divisional playoffs, the number 1 seed hosts the worst surviving seed from the first round (seed 4, 5 or 6), while the number 2 seed will play the other team (seed 3, 4 or 5). The two surviving teams from each conference's divisional playoff games then meet in the respective AFC and NFC Conference Championship games, hosted by the higher seed. Although the Super Bowl, the fourth and final round of the playoffs, is played at a neutral site, the designated home team is based on an annual rotation by conference.
- * Indicates overtime victory
NFL Playoff schedule
|Away team||Score||Home team||Date||Kickoff|
(ET / UTC−5)
|Wild Card playoffs|
|Oakland Raiders||14–27||Houston Texans||January 7, 2017||4:35 p.m.||ABC/ESPN|
|Detroit Lions||6–26||Seattle Seahawks||January 7, 2017||8:15 p.m.||NBC|
|Miami Dolphins||12–30||Pittsburgh Steelers||January 8, 2017||1:05 p.m.||CBS|
|New York Giants||13–38||Green Bay Packers||January 8, 2017||4:40 p.m.||Fox|
|Seattle Seahawks||20–36||Atlanta Falcons||January 14, 2017||4:35 p.m.||Fox|
|Houston Texans||16–34||New England Patriots||January 14, 2017||8:15 p.m.||CBS|
|Green Bay Packers||34–31||Dallas Cowboys||January 15, 2017||4:40 p.m.||Fox|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||18–16||Kansas City Chiefs||January 15, 2017||8:20 p.m.A||NBC|
|Green Bay Packers||21–44||Atlanta Falcons||January 22, 2017||3:05 p.m.||Fox|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||17–36||New England Patriots||January 22, 2017||6:40 p.m.||CBS|
|Super Bowl LI|
NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
|New England Patriots||34–28 (OT)||Atlanta Falcons||February 5, 2017||6:30 p.m.||Fox|
- A.^ The Pittsburgh-Kansas City game was rescheduled from a 1:05 p.m. kickoff due to public safety concerns about an ice storm affecting the Great Plains region. It thus became the first Divisional Playoff game ever played on Sunday night. The league subsequently used it as a test to consider whether to shift future Sunday playoff games into primetime, as moving games from the 1 p.m. afternoon slot potentially generates more viewers. Indeed, NBC, the broadcaster of the game, issued a press release on the following day that proclaimed that the contest was the "most-watched, highest-rated, primetime playoff game ever" in either the Wild Card or Divisional round. The league has resisted Sunday primetime games in the past because of the competitive disadvantage: if the winner was the lowest remaining seed, they would have to fly back home late Sunday night/early Monday and then travel again before their next game; while their opponent with home-field advantage might have played on Saturday, can stay at home for the next game and thus get extra time to prepare and rest.
Wild card playoffs
Saturday, January 7, 2017
AFC: Houston Texans 27, Oakland Raiders 14
Oakland Raiders vs. Houston Texans – Game summary
at NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
The Raiders were one of the most dominant teams in the AFC during the season, but in the final two weeks of the regular season, they lost starting quarterback Derek Carr and second-string quarterback Matt McGloin to injuries. The Raiders lost the last game and ended up going into the playoffs with Connor Cook under center, making Cook the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era to make his first NFL start in the postseason. Houston also had plenty of problems during the season as well, scoring only 25 touchdowns, the lowest number by a playoff team since the NFL expanded to a 16-game season in 1978. But in this game, they proved more than a match for the Raiders, holding them to just 202 total yards and 2-for-16 on third down conversions while scoring 27 points, without losing any turnovers or allowing any sacks.
Early in the first quarter, Shane Lechler's 30-yard punt pinned the Raiders back at their own 7-yard line. Oakland gained only two yards on their ensuing drive and Marquette King's 31-yard punt gave the Texans excellent field position on the Raiders' 40-yard line, which they converted on a Nick Novak field goal from 50 yards. Three plays into Oakland's next drive, Houston lineman Jadeveon Clowney intercepted a screen pass from Cook and returned it three yards, with an unnecessary roughness penalty on Menelik Watson adding another 15 yards and giving the Texans a first down on Oakland's 4-yard line. Lamar Miller then scored on a 4-yard touchdown run to give Houston a 10–0 lead with just over six minutes left in the first quarter. Both teams had to punt on their next possession and Jalen Richard returned Lechler's 51-yard kick 37 yards to the Texans' 38-yard line. Latavius Murray then rushed four times for 31 yards as the team drove to a touchdown on his 2-yard run, cutting the deficit to 10–7.
In the second quarter, Houston quarterback Brock Osweiler completed passes to tight end C. J. Fiedorowicz for yardage gains of 18 and 17 yards respectively, while Miller added a 19-yard carry as the team drove 75 yards in 10 plays to score on Novak's 38-yard field goal, making the score 13–7. Later on, the Texans got the ball on their own 40-yard line with 2:25 left in the half. Osweiler completed a 19-yard pass to Will Fuller and a 38-yard pass to DeAndre Hopkins, then finished the drive with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Hopkins that gave his team a 20–7 halftime lead. The third quarter started with six consecutive punts. With 28 seconds left in the period, Houston returner Tyler Ervin muffed King's 56-yard punt, but teammate Eddie Pleasant recovered the ball and returned it 12 yards to the Texans' 47-yard line. Houston then drove 53 yards in nine plays, including a 19-yard reception by Fuller, to score on Osweiler's 1-yard touchdown run and go up 27–7. After being completely shut down up to this point, Oakland's offense finally managed to respond, moving the ball 75 yards in 11 plays, with Cook completing 5 of 9 passes for 50 yards on the drive; three completions went to Andre Holmes for 37 yards, the last one an 8-yard touchdown pass to make the score 27–14. Oakland's defense then forced a three-and-out with 6:27 left, but safety Corey Moore ended the drive with an interception of a high pass intended for Amari Cooper. Cook was intercepted again in the final two minutes, by A. J. Bouye.
Osweiler was 14-of-25 passing for 168 yards and a touchdown, while also rushing for 15 yards and a touchdown. Defensive back Johnathan Joseph had 10 solo tackles, while linebacker Whitney Mercilus had seven tackles (five solo) and two sacks. In his first start, Cook completed 18 of 45 passing attempts for 161 yards and a touchdown, with three interceptions.
NFC: Seattle Seahawks 26, Detroit Lions 6
Seattle dominated the Lions, holding them to just 231 total yards, 13 first downs and 2-for-11 on third down conversions.
All drives in the first quarter ended in punts, except for the last one in which the Lions drove to a 4th-and-1 situation on the Seattle 38-yard line. On the first play of the second quarter, Matthew Stafford completed a pass to tight end Matthew Mulligan, but linebackers Bobby Wagner and K. J. Wright tackled him for a two-yard loss, causing a turnover on downs. Seattle then drove 60 yards in 14 plays, nine of them rushes by Thomas Rawls for 49 yards. Faced with 4th-and-goal on the Lions' 2-yard line, quarterback Russell Wilson threw the ball to Paul Richardson, who made a diving one-handed catch in the back of the end zone despite tight coverage (and a pass interference penalty) by safety Tavon Wilson, giving Seattle a 7–0 lead. Following a punt by the Lions, Rawls' 26-yard run and Wilson's 19-yard completion to Richardson set up Steven Hauschka's 43-yard field goal, increasing Seattle's lead to 10–0. Getting the ball with 1:55 left on the clock, Detroit responded as Stafford's completions to Anquan Boldin and Marvin Jones for gains of 16 and 30 yards led to a 51-yard Matt Prater field goal that made the score 10–3 with 20 seconds left before halftime.
After forcing Seattle to punt on the opening drive of the second half, Stafford led the Lions 61 yards in 10 plays, featuring a 23-yard completion to fullback Zach Zenner, to score on Prater's 53-yard field goal, cutting their deficit to 10–6. But after this, Seattle completely took over the game. They responded by driving 65 yards in 10 plays, including a 32-yard run by Rawls, scoring on Hauschka's 27-yard field goal three plays into the fourth quarter. Then after a punt, Wilson's 42-yard completion to Doug Baldwin initiated an 82-yard drive that ended on Rawls' four-yard touchdown run, making the score 19–6 after Hauschka missed the extra point. Another Detroit punt got them the ball back with less than eight minutes remaining and they went on to put the game away with an 11-play, 84-yard drive. The key play was Wilson's 27-yard completion to Richardson on 3rd-and-5 from the Seattle 33-yard line. Wilson eventually finished the drive with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Baldwin, making the final score 26–6.
Wilson completed 23 of 30 passes for 224 yards and a pair of touchdowns. His top target was Baldwin, who caught 11 passes for 104 yards and a touchdown. Rawls set a franchise playoff record with 161 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries. Defensive end Cliff Avril had three tackles and two sacks. For the Lions, Stafford completed 18 of 32 passes for 205 yards; Jones caught four passes for 81 yards while defensive end Ezekiel Ansah had nine combined tackles (five solo) and two sacks. Prater made NFL history with two field goals greater than 50 yards in a playoff game.
Sunday, January 8, 2017
AFC: Pittsburgh Steelers 30, Miami Dolphins 12
In their regular season meeting, Miami racked up 474 yards as they defeated Pittsburgh 30–15, but this game would have a very different outcome. The Steelers gained 387 yards, forced three turnovers, recorded five sacks and scored three touchdowns in the first half on the way to a dominant 18-point win.
Pittsburgh took the opening kickoff and drove 85 yards in 5 plays, scoring on Ben Roethlisberger's pass to Antonio Brown, who hauled in the short screen and took it 50 yards to the end zone. Then after a punt, the Steelers moved the ball 90 yards in 6 plays on the way to a 62-yard touchdown completion from Roethlisberger to Brown. This time Miami managed to respond, aided by Kenyan Drake's 33-yard kickoff return to the 41-yard line. Faced with 3rd-and-13 after two plays, Matt Moore completed a 36-yard pass to receiver Kenny Stills, setting up Andrew Franks' 38-yard field goal that cut their deficit to 14–3. But after getting the ball back, Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell carried the ball 9 times for 79 yards on a 10–play, 83-yard drive that ended with his 1-yard touchdown run, giving the team a 20–3 lead after Chris Boswell missed the extra point.
Miami then drove 39 yards in 12 plays, scoring on Franks' 47-yard field goal with less than 5 minutes left in the second quarter. Pittsburgh responded with a drive to the Dolphins' 34-yard line, but with 1:12 left, Roethlisberger threw a pass that bounced off the outstretched hands of Brown and was intercepted by safety Michael Thomas, who returned it 16 yards to the Dolphins' 27-yard line. Miami subsequently moved the ball to the Steelers' 8-yard line, featuring a 37-yard completion from Moore to DeVante Parker. But on the next play, Moore lost a fumble while being sacked by James Harrison and Steelers defensive end Stephon Tuitt recovered the ball, allowing Pittsburgh to go into the half maintaining their 20–6 lead.
Early in the third quarter, safety Mike Mitchell forced a fumble while sacking Moore that Leterrius Walton recovered for the Steelers at their 41-yard line. Bell then rushed 3 times for 49 yards on the way to a 34-yard Boswell field goal that increased their lead to 23–6. Then on the first play after the kickoff, linebacker Ryan Shazier intercepted a pass from Moore and returned it 10 yards to the Dolphins' 25-yard line. Miami's defense managed to force a 4th down, but a neutral zone infraction penalty against Dolphins defensive back Tony Lippett on the field goal attempt gave Pittsburgh a new set of downs. The Steelers took full advantage of the opportunity, scoring on Bell's 8-yard touchdown run that made the score 30–6 with 2 minutes left until the fourth quarter. Miami responded with a drive to the Steelers' 42-yard line, but lost the ball when Tuitt tackled Moore for a 2-yard gain on 4th-and-4.
Miami finally managed to get a touchdown in the fourth quarter – with 5:57 left – moving the ball 70 yards in 9 plays and scoring on Moore's 4-yard pass to running back Damien Williams. After a failed onside kick attempt, the Dolphins got one last chance to score when Xavien Howard intercepted Roethlisberger's pass and returned it 11 yards to the Miami 43-yard line. But the Steelers forced a turnover on downs at the Steelers' 33-yard line and ran out the clock to win the game.
Roethlisberger completed 13 of 18 passes for 197 yards and two touchdowns, with 2 interceptions. Brown caught 5 passes for 124 yards and two scores, while Bell rushed 29 times for 167 yards – surpassing the previous franchise playoff record of 158 yards set by Franco Harris in Super Bowl IX – and a touchdown. Linebacker Lawrence Timmons had 14 tackles (8 solo) and 2 sacks. James Harrison had 10 tackles (6 solo), 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble. Moore finished with 29 completions on 36 passing attempts for 298 yards and a touchdown, with one interception. His top receiver was Jarvis Landry, who caught 11 passes for 102 yards.
NFC: Green Bay Packers 38, New York Giants 13
This was the first wild card game between two former Super Bowl MVP quarterbacks. The Packers got revenge on the Giants with a 38–13 blowout after losing to the Giants in 2007 and 2011.
After the game started with a few punts, Giants quarterback Eli Manning completed passes to Sterling Shepard for gains of 26 and 13 yards as the team drove 54 yards to score on Robbie Gould's 26-yard field goal. Meanwhile, their defense would keep Green Bay pinned down for the entire first quarter, holding them to just 7 net yards. To make matters worse, Packers receiver Jordy Nelson, their leading receiver during the season, was injured and did not return to the game. New York also suffered a big loss through injury though, defensive back Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the team's regular season leader in interceptions.
In the second quarter, Green Bay punter Jake Schum pinned the Giants back at their 8-yard line with a 58-yard kick. A few plays later, Manning's 51-yard completion to tight end Will Tye set up another Gould field goal, increasing their lead to 6–0. Green Bay had to punt again on their next drive and once again they pinned the Giants back at their own 8-yard line with Schum's kick. This time, New York could not gain any net yards and safety Micah Hyde returned Brad Wing's 37-yard punt 7 yards to the Giants' 38-yard line. With excellent field position, the Packers' offense, that had been held in check all game, scored two touchdowns in the final 2:20 of the half. First, Aaron Rodgers completed a 31-yard pass to Davante Adams; then after a short running play, Rodgers threw the ball to Adams in the back left corner of the end zone, who made a diving catch past the outstretched arms of defensive back Coty Sensabaugh for a 5-yard touchdown reception. New York then had to punt in 3 plays after Bobby Rainey was stopped for no gain on 3rd-and-1. Taking the ball back on their own 20-yard line with 1:38 left, Green Bay used nearly all that time to drive to a 4th-and-2 on the Giants' 42-yard line. With six seconds left, Rodgers aired out a Hail Mary pass into the end zone, over the heads of numerous players and was caught by receiver Randall Cobb, giving the Packers a 14–6 halftime lead.
Following a pair of punts to start the second half, Green Bay found themselves facing 3rd-and-1 on their own 42-yard line. This time the Giants would make a defensive stand; fullback Aaron Ripkowski was stopped for no gain by safety Landon Collins, then Ty Montgomery tried to run left tackle, but Collins and linebacker Jonathan Casillas tackled him for a 1-yard loss. One play after the turnover on downs, Manning threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to receiver Tavarres King, putting the Giants within one point at 14–13. However, this was all New York could do as Green Bay went on a run of 24 unanswered points. Christine Michael returned the ensuing kickoff 31 yards to the 37-yard line. Then Rodgers hit Jared Cook for 13 yards, Adams for 20 yards and Cobb for a 30-yard touchdown pass that gave the team a 21–13 lead. New York then went three-and-out and Hyde returned Wing's 50-yard punt 23 yards to the Giants' 37-yard line. Rodgers' subsequent 23-yard completion to Adams set up Mason Crosby's 32-yard field goal, upping their lead to 24–13. Three plays into the fourth quarter, New York had to punt again. Green Bay went on to drive 80 yards in 10 plays and go up 31–13 on Rodgers' 16-yard touchdown pass to Cobb. The key play of the drive was a 34-yard reception by Montgomery on 3rd-and-10 from the Packers' 30-yard line.
Though the game was virtually over at this point, a few plays into New York's next drive, linebacker Clay Matthews III hit Manning as he was winding up for a pass. Since the ball went forward, both teams thought the result was an incomplete pass; Matthews realized no whistle had been blown and raced 10 yards downfield to recover the ball, plowing through running back Paul Perkins in the process. The ball was deemed live and was classed as a fumble recovery for Green Bay on the Packers' 45-yard line. Green Bay then drove 55 yards in 9 plays to make the final score 38–13 on Ripkowski's 1-yard touchdown run. New York responded with a drive to the Packers' 13-yard line, but Damarious Randall intercepted a pass from Manning with seconds remaining.
Rodgers completed 25 of 40 passes for 364 yards and four touchdowns. Cobb caught three touchdown passes out of five receptions, for 116 yards, while Adams had eight catches for 125 yards and a touchdown. Hyde had six tackles and five punt returns for 50 yards. For New York, Manning completed 23 of 44 passes for 299 yards, with a touchdown and an interception.
Saturday, January 14, 2017
NFC: Atlanta Falcons 36, Seattle Seahawks 20
Seattle Seahawks vs. Atlanta Falcons – Game summary
at Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Georgia
The Falcons' league-leading offense put up 422 total yards on their way to a 36–20 win over the Seahawks and their first trip to the NFC Championship since 2012.
On the game's opening possession, Seattle mounted a 14-play, 81-yard drive that lasted 8:36; Russell Wilson completed all four of his passes for 40 yards and rushed for 16 yards on the drive, eventually finding tight end Jimmy Graham for a seven-yard touchdown. Atlanta responded with their own 13-play, 75-yard drive on their first possession and tied the game with Matt Ryan's 7-yard touchdown pass to Julio Jones on the second play of the second quarter. Devin Hester returned the ensuing kickoff 50 yards to the Seattle 45-yard line and the Seahawks advanced into Falcons territory with Wilson's 33-yard pass to Paul Richardson, who made a diving catch and then ran to the end zone. His catch was initially ruled a touchdown, but replays showed he was touched by Jalen Collins as he was falling to the ground, thus nullifying the scoring play. The drive ended up stalling and Seattle settled for a 33-yard field goal by Steven Hauschka. After Atlanta went three-and-out on their next drive, Hester returned the punt 80 yards to the Falcons' 7-yard line, but Seattle's Kevin Pierre-Louis was called for holding and the Seahawks were pushed back to their own 7-yard line. On the second play of the next drive, center Justin Britt accidentally stepped on Wilson's leg after the snap, causing Wilson to fall backwards into the end zone where he was downed by Ben Garland for a safety. Atlanta added two scores before the end of the half; first, Eric Weems returned the free kick 18 yards to the Falcons' 41-yard line. Ryan then completed a 37-yard pass to Taylor Gabriel that set up Matt Bryant's 35-yard field goal to give the Falcons a 12–10 lead. Seattle had to punt on their next drive and Jon Ryan's 60-yard kick pinned them back at their own 1-yard line. However, Atlanta advanced the ball all the way to the end zone, in nine plays. Ryan hit Mohamed Sanu for 22 yards, Gabriel for 18 yards and Jones for 20 yards before finishing the drive with a 14-yard touchdown pass to running back Tevin Coleman, increasing Atlanta's lead to 19–10 with 53 seconds left in the half.
The Falcons increased their lead on the opening drive of the second half, moving the ball 75 yards – 29 yards of which from three carries by Coleman – in 13 plays on the way to Devonta Freeman's one-yard touchdown run that put them up by 16 points. This time, Seattle were able to respond, driving 80 yards in 14 plays, including a 40-yard completion from Wilson to Richardson. Hauschka finished the possession with a 31-yard field goal, cutting the score to 26–13. Atlanta took the kickoff; on 3rd-and-4, Ryan dumped off a short pass to Freeman, who then took off for a 53-yard gain to the Seahawks' 16-yard line, setting up Bryant's 31-yard field goal on the opening play of the fourth quarter. Seattle were able to get into Falcons territory later in the quarter, but Wilson threw an interception to Ricardo Allen who returned it 45 yards to the Seahawks' 46-yard line. Atlanta then drove 46 yards in 8 plays, the last one Ryan's three-yard touchdown pass to Sanu with 3:40 remaining to put the Falcons up by 23 points. Seattle were able to get back within 16 points after Hester returned the kickoff 78 yards and Wilson threw a 31-yard touchdown to Doug Baldwin, but Atlanta effectively sealed the game when Sanu recovered the resulting onside kick. On Seattle's final drive, Wilson was intercepted by Deion Jones.
Ryan finished as the game's leading passer with 26 completions on 37 attempts for 338 yards and three touchdowns. Freeman rushed for 40 yards and a touchdown, while also catching four passes for 80 yards and a touchdown. Wilson threw for 225 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, and also finished as the Seahawks' leading rusher with 49 yards. Hester returned five kickoffs for 198 yards.
AFC: New England Patriots 34, Houston Texans 16
The referee assignments for this weekend’s Divisional Round playoff games were announced on Tuesday and Brad Allen will be in charge of the game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Jacksonville Jaguars.
Allen, a fourth-year NFL official, has previously refereed three other games involving the Steelers with the last one being last season in Week 11 against the Cleveland Browns. His crew assessed 17 total penalties in that Steelers win over the Browns.
This season, Allen’s crew reportedly averaged 12.27 penalties a game, which appears to be slightly below the league average. Earlier this season, Allen and the crew he led officiated the Jaguars game against the Cincinnati Bengals and of the 13 total penalties assessed in that contest, 5 for 50 yards went against the Jaguars.
The Sunday officiating crew will include Umpire Barry Anderson, Down Judge Jerry Bergman, Line Judge Julian Mapp, Field Judge Joe Larrew, Side Judge Walt Coleman IV and Back Judge Scott Helverson. None of those six officials were part of Allen’s crew during the regular season.
TOPICS:Brad AllenJacksonville JaguarsReferee