Playoffs showcase need for elite quarterback

Mon Jan 5, 2015 1:35pm EST
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By Simon Evans

(Reuters) - Quarterback is the most important position on the gridiron and that widespread belief was once again made abundantly clear in the opening round of the playoffs, setting the stage for a mouthwatering slate of divisional round games.

The four survivors from the wild-card round of the playoffs are all teams who have outstanding quarterbacks that delivered the goods in crunch time.

Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts, Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys, Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens and Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers all stood tall with their respective seasons on the line.

Conversely, two teams without an elite quarterback fell by the wayside with third-stringer Ryan Lindley struggling in the Arizona Cardinals' loss to Carolina while Andy Dalton dropped to 0-4 all-time in the playoffs after losing to Indianapolis.

The top four seeds in the postseason, who all had first-round byes, are led by quarterbacks who have won the Super Bowl and while all start as favourites in their games, none expect a straightforward passage to the conference championship games.

The standout quarterback performance of the weekend was arguably that of Luck, who was described as a "maestro" by Colts coach Chuck Pagano after a wonderful 36-yard pass on the run to rookie Donte Moncreif for a crucial third quarter touchdown.

Luck will now face the man he replaced in Indianapolis when the Colts visit Peyton Manning's Denver Broncos on Sunday in one of the most anticipated of the four divisional games.

Controversy surrounds Dallas's 24-20 win over Detroit after a pass interference penalty against the Cowboys in the fourth quarter was reversed by the referee.   Continued...

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is interviewed after the 2014 AFC Wild Card playoff football game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports