Second half domination the theme of Wild Card Weekend

How many times have you heard the old
“It’s a 60 minute game” cliché before and scoffed at it? Don’t
worry if you’re guilty, I know I have been. But this year’s wild card
weekend proves an extended version of a Chris Berman classic: That’s
why they play the whole game.
Because these four games each was truly a tale of two halves. The
four winners outscored foes by a combined 64-13 after intermission. A
closer look, with the second half scores (final score in

14, Arizona 2 (27-16)

even mind that “2” you see. That was an act of charity by the
Panthers, whose overall effort was really one of domination, but the
second half was a substantial microcosm. After falling behind the
Ryan Lindley-led Cardinals, 14-13, at the break, Carolina held the
putrid Cardinals offense (and I use that term loosely) to fewer yards
(13) than first half points. A pair of interceptions and a fumbled
kickoff was Arizona’s undoing, as the offense took advantage of short
fields for two touchdowns. An intentional safety in the closing
seconds gave the Cardinals two points for show.

20, Pittsburgh 8 (30-17)

two regular season blowouts, count me among those that thought we
were certainly in for a tight one between these longtime bitter
rivals. Instead, the Ravens were significantly more physical in the
second half after a one-point lead at halftime. In addition to
picking off Big Ben twice in the fourth quarter, the Ravens
administered a number of massive hits, including one that gave
Roethlisberger whiplash and another that left Heath Miller dazed.
Roethlisberger made an uncharacteristically bad decision on his
second pick after the hit, and Miller fumbled, something he’d done
only five times in a decade-long career. Pittsburgh mustered just two
field goals and a late safety on a blocked punt in the final 30
minutes as Baltimore advanced.

13, Cincinnati 0 (26-10)

amazing the playoff-inept Bengals were in this game at halftime, down
just 13-10. The Bengals gained just 98 yards over the final two
quarters and zero points, with a late strip-sack sealing the deal. On
a day in which ageless kicker Adam Vinatieri provided twice as many
field goals (four) as Colts touchdowns, it was a touchdown throw by
Andrew Luck to Donte Moncrief from 36 yards out that left everyone in
awe. Luck played almost flawlessly, while Andy Dalton did virtually
nothing despite not throwing an interception. The quarterback
disparity and overall offensive ineptitude of the Bengals were
glaring in the third and fourth quarters, leading to a fourth
straight one-and-done for the Bengals in the postseason.

17, Detroit 3 (24-20)

all the talk about the pass interference call that wasn’t, the
turnaround by the Dallas defense (or was it the meltdown of the
Detroit offense?) told the bulk of the story. The Lions could not
find the end zone and produced just 140 yards of total offense in the
second half, giving Tony Romo and the Cowboys’ offense time to
finally find their rhythm. Despite being outgained by 82 yards for
the game, the Cowboys were the mentally and physically tougher team
when it mattered most, a credit to Romo as he lugged the weight of a
1-4 postseason record into the game and may have enjoyed this victory
more than anyone. A Cowboys defense that at times has been much
maligned held Detroit to four first downs over its three final
scoreless drives, forcing two fumbles and recovering the second one
to seal the deal. In all, the Lions held the ball for under 12
minutes in the final two periods.

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