By: GEOFF MEHL, NFL BEAT REPORTER
In an NFL season where anything has become impossible, improbable and quite stunning, it’s been the same in the playoffs. Baltimore stunned Denver at Mile High, and the Seahawks nearly overcame a 20-point, only to fall in the final seconds.
The Baltimore Ravens stunned the Denver Broncos, 38-35, Saturday afternoon in an instant overtime classic. Ravens kicker Justin Tucker hit a 47-yard field goal in double overtime to send the Ravens to the AFC Championship.
Quarterback Joe Flacco’s 70-yard “hail mary” to Jacoby Jones with just over 30 seconds left in regulation tied the game for the Ravens, keeping their playoff hopes alive. Flacco finished the game with 331 yards on 18 of 34 passing with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Bronco quarterback Peyton Manning was less effective, throwing two interceptions.
The San Francisco 49ers dominated the Green Bay Packers, 45-31, behind second year quarterback Colin Kaepernick on Saturday night. Kaepernick set the single game quarterback rushing yard record with 181 yards and two touchdowns. He also passed for 263 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers were unable to get in sync on offense. Rodgers only passed for 267 yards and two touchdowns.
The Atlanta Falcons squeaked by the Seattle Seahawks, 30-28, on a game winning field goal on Sunday afternoon. Falcon kicker Matt Bryant iced a 49-yard field goal with eight seconds left in the game. Atlanta blew a 20 point lead and were surpassed, 28-27, with 31 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Matt Ryan led the Falcons into field goal range on the game winning drive. Ryan finished with 250 yards on 24-35 passing with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson contributed 385 passing yards and two touchdowns in the effort.
The New England Patriots dismantled the Houston Texans, 41-28, on Sunday evening in Foxboro. Patriots running back Shane Vareen rushed seven times for 41 yards and a touchdown and also had five catches for 83 yards and two touchdowns.
Michigan graduate Tom Brady led the Pats on offense going 25 for 40 passing with 344 yards and three touchdowns. Texans running back Arian Foster led the team in rushing with 22 carries for 90 yards, a touchdown and seven catches for 63 yards and a touchdown. The Patriots also defeated the Texans in the regular season, 42-14 in Week 14.
The Atlanta Falcons will host the San Francisco 49ers next Sunday, Jan. 20 at 3:00 p.m. on FOX in the NFC Championship game. The Baltimore Ravens will head to New England to take on the Patriots at 6:30 p.m. on CBS in the AFC Championship game.