Wild-card weekend delivers last-gasp wins and huge comeback

Mon Jan 6, 2014 4:27pm EST
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(Reuters) - The divisional round of the NFL playoffs has a tough act to follow after a thrilling wild-card weekend that featured an epic comeback, two upsets and extreme cold temperatures.

Three of four games were decided by three points or less, including two by field goals on the final play over a weekend that saw the Indianapolis Colts, San Diego Chargers, New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers advance.

But bigger hurdles await this weekend as each conference's top seed enters the mix with the NFC's Seattle Seahawks hosting the Saints on Saturday while Peyton Manning and the AFC's Denver Broncos welcome red-hot San Diego on Sunday.

In the two other divisional round playoff games, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots host the Colts on Saturday while the 49ers visit the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

Wild card weekend lived up to its name with a gridiron feast packed with drama, breathtaking comebacks and meltdowns that will be hard to top.

But with future Hall of Fame quarterbacks Manning, Brady and Brees in action alongside their counterparts in Seattle (Russell Wilson), San Francisco (Colin Kaepernick), Carolina (Cam Newton) and Indianapolis (Andrew Luck), the stage is set for even bigger fireworks with a berth in the conference championships at stake.

Wild card weekend began with a comeback for the ages as the Colts became just the second playoff team to rally from a 28-point deficit for a 45-44 victory that ended a Cinderella season for a Chiefs team that went 2-14 last year.

"Obviously an incredible victory, a great team victory, one for the ages I've never seen anything quite like it," Colts coach Chuck Pagano told reporters.

The Chargers, whose playoff hopes seemed all but dead a month ago, took full advantage of a second-half meltdown by the favored Bengals to claim a 27-10 win.   Continued...

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson (87) makes a catch San Francisco 49ers cornerback Tramaine Brock (26) during the second half of the 2013 NFC wild card playoff football game at Lambeau Field. Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports