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The three-day, playoff-opening salvo the NFL took to calling “Super Wild Card Weekend” lived up to that billing Saturday, with the super wild and some wild cards thrown in for good measure.

The first half of the San Francisco 49ers-Seattle Seahawks third season was perhaps unexpectedly tense, and Seattle’s 17-16 lead at halftime was definitely a surprise. But what followed was four quarters of kick-ass football that spanned the country from Santa Clara, Calif., to Jacksonville, Fla., where the second game of the day between the host Jaguars and Los Angeles Chargers provided one of the great comebacks in postseason history.

So many winners on Saturday… and almost as many losers.


Brock Purdy. Wow! The 49ers’ freshman quarterback, “Mr. Misplaced” as the last player selected in the 2022 NFL Draft, ran his record to 6-0 as the Niners beat the Seahawks 41-23. Purdy became the first rookie in league history to score 4 touchdowns (three passing, one rushing) in a playoff game and even earned a shout-out from LeBron James. Before Purdy, the last rookie to win a postseason game was Seattle’s Russell Wilson in 2012. Before Purdy, the last seventh-round rookie QB to start a postseason game … was nobody, although Skylar Thompson of the Miami Dolphins should. to become the second Sunday in Buffalo. Also on Saturday, Purdy joined Los Angeles Chargers’ Justin Herbert as the only rookies in league history to throw multiple TD passes in seven straight games, though Herbert’s run came entirely within the 2020 regular season.

Buffalo Bills. They don’t play until Sunday at 1 p.m. against Miami, but got a huge win Saturday when they were reunited with teammate Damar Hamlin, just 12 days after he went into cardiac arrest on the field in Cincinnati. It is enough to say.

Quarterbacks making their playoff debuts. On Saturday, all four QB1s — Purdy, Herbert, the Seahawks’ Geno Smith and the Jacksonville Jaguars’ Trevor Lawrence — were appearing in their first postseason games. Three more are expected to join them Sunday: Thompson, the New York Giants’ Daniel Jones and the Baltimore Ravens’ Tyler Huntley (or Anthony Brown).

the worst: The Jaguars’ remarkable win on Saturday made them the first team ever to win in the playoffs after a league-worst record this season.

Violation of 49. It was hardly all Purdy. San Francisco’s 505 yards were 51 better than the regular-season mark. RB Christian McCaffrey (136) and WR Deebo Samuel (165) both had 130+ yards rushing and a TD.

D.K Metcalfe. By and large, he was a fixture in the Seahawks offense, finishing with 10 receptions for 136 yards and a pair of touchdowns while imposing a physical presence against a top-ranked Niners defense that the rest of his teammates simply couldn’t replicate.

Strong ends of chargers. They did their best to pick up the slack with injured WR Mike Williams. Gerald Everett, Donald Parham Jr. and Tre McKitty combined for 12 receptions for 148 yards and a TD.

Robbie Gould. The San Francisco forward made four field goals and three extra points. In 14 postseason appearances, he never missed a kick, perfect on all 25 FG attempts and 37-for-37 on PATs.

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Travis Etienne Jr. The Jags’ “other” first-round pick in 2021 (and Lawrence’s teammate at Clemson), Etienne continued his sophomore season; he missed his entire rookie campaign with a Lisfranc injury; of the chunk-play variety that helped Jacksonville bounce back from a seemingly unrecoverable start.

Asante Samuel Jr. The Chargers corner became the first player to catch three touchdown passes in the first half of a playoff game. If his dad’s hands had been this good, the New England Patriots would have gone 19-0 in 2007. (Sorry/not sorry, Boston).

Sean Payton. The next coach of the Chargers. The rumor went around for weeks and at one point it seemed to be dead on Saturday night…then it wasn’t.

Doug Pederson. The Jacksonville coach didn’t panic, and neither did his team as it steadily clawed back against the Bolts. And let’s not forget Pederson’s gutsy decision to go with 5:25 to go and his team trailing 30-26, that’s when Lawrence used his 6-6 frame to convert on a two-point attempt to go with the team’s fourth TD. : That preceded Riley Patterson’s game-winning FG on the final play of the night.

Second half Trevor Lawrence. Wow! 18 of his 23 throws found the mark, covering 211 yards and three touchdowns in the final two quarters. in 2021 The No. 1 draft pick’s performance led to an incredible comeback necessitated by his own ineptitude in the game’s first 28 minutes, propelling the Jags to a 31-30 victory that marked the third-largest comeback in playoff history (more on that later). Jacksonville became the first team in postseason history to overcome a deficit of at least five turnovers.


First half Trevor Lawrence. The Sunshine Boy put his team (27-0) in the gutter, rushing for all of 77 yards while completing 10 of 24 passes; well, 14 out of 24 when you count the four interceptions. The last quarterback to take the field before a playoff game was Gary Danielson in 1983.

Brandon Staley. He wasn’t guilty of any questionable play-calling on Saturday, and his team executed a first-half game plan that frustrated Lawrence and looked like it might be enough to set up another round with the Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round. But the Chargers could only muster three points in the second half, had to use a third-string lefty, collapsed on defense, lost their composure … and certainly could have used Williams, whom Staley played point blank in Week 18 when he was hurt. back fracture. The Bolts would be justified in keeping their bright, if stubborn, second-year coach … and would be justified in moving on, too.

Herbert: Speaking of Los Angeles’ third-year budding superstar. yes, he didn’t have his favorite receiver on Saturday or an adequate defense, was sacked three times, hit 10 times and even absorbed a cheap shot by Jags rookie OLB Travon Walker. It brought a flag but no retribution from Herbert’s teammates. Still, as fun as he is to watch and the possibility that he could become Aaron Rodgers 2.0, he had to find a way to put this game on the ice.

Chargers QB Justin Herbert (10) hits a pass from Jaguars LB Travon Walker (44) Saturday night.

Bosa Bowl. NFL Defensive Player of the Year Nick Bosa had a solid day, making five tackles (one for loss) and recovering a fumble in San Francisco’s win. But big brother Joey had a tough night in Duval County, finishing with one hit, one hit on Lawrence … after two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties and an offside call that angered him by nullifying Lawrence’s crucial third sack and going overtime instead. drive that ended with Jacksonville’s second TD. So Nick continues to play and Joey will have to watch from the luxury box.

Seahawks offensive line. All five of Seattle’s penalties were against its front five, not including the sixth that was called, most of which fell into the category of mental fouls. Smith was also sacked three times.

Geno Smith. He wasn’t terrible considering what was going on in front of him, but Smith turned the ball over twice and fell short of becoming the first quarterback in 22 years to win in his playoff debut 10 years into his career. Now he’s waiting for Seattle to make a decision as his contract expires at the end of what was otherwise a breakout campaign.

Detroit Lions. Had they not lost to the Seahawks in Week 4, the Lions would have been in action on Saturday. And the way Dan Campbell’s crew finished the season, you wonder if Detroit would have given the Niners four quarters of hell as opposed to the two Seattle managed.

Jonathan Abram. There’s a reason the Raiders’ 2019 first-round pick is on his third team of the season (Seahawks). There is zero reason he should try to harm his partner, Samuel, in Saturday’s case. Gossip. San Francisco seemed to be fired up as well, scoring 25 straight points after a dirty game.


Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY. The winners and losers of Saturday’s NFL games. chargers fall apart


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