Wildcard Recap: Home teams drop home-field advantage

Out of the four wildcard games played this past weekend, it is two out of the four were some of the most nail-biting we may ever watch. Whether it be the tension between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Pittsburgh Steelers, or the missed field goal attempt made by Blair Walsh, it appears as if this playoff season will have a lot in store for us.

It seemed that the Seahawks may be stripped of potentially making it to the Super Bowl for a third time in a row. However, it appears as though the football gods were in Seattle’s favor when the Vikings Blair Walsh missed a 27-yeard field goal attempt. Walsh’s miss came with 26 second left in the game, giving the Seahawks the win.

An NFL kicker should be able to make a 27-yard field goal attempt in his sleep unless the kick is either blocked or deflected, but neither of these situations happened. Blair Walsh simply missed the attempt.
“I didn’t come through for us, and that hurts,” Walsh told NFL Media’s Stacey Dales, while Vikings coach Mike Simmer told reporters point blank: “It’s a chip shot. He’s got to make it.”

Walsh had been set out to be the hero as he was sitting at a 9-0 lead for field goal attempts ranging from 47, 43, and 22 yards.

Although former NFL kicker Jay Feely tweeted that lace direction “shouldn’t kill the kick from such a short distance”, Walsh’s final attempt saw a high snap with the laces facing in on punter Jeff Locke’s positioning.

To take the blame off of Walsh’s back, despite Feely’s previous comment, he mentioned that the positioning of the ball can play a large roll on the attempt being made or not. Feely mentioned, “Even on a short [attempt] that can impact the kick,” adding “that is on Locke as much as Walsh.”

Chip Scoggins, an NFL reporter took to Twitter and commented, “Blair Walsh took all blame for his missed kick, said repeatedly that he let the team down. Walsh broke down crying as teammates consoled him”.

Steelers upset Bengals on the road / USA Today

Steelers upset Bengals on the road / USA Today

The Vikings finished their season first in the NFC North with a record of 11-5.

Last Saturday’s evening matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals saw a significant amount of tension and dirty plays particularly in the fourth quarter that could have been responsible for the Steelers win.

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported, Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict could face a suspension for his hit on Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown. Burfict was penalized for the hit, which helped put the Steelers into winning field-goal range.

NFL spokesman Michael Signora added: “As is the case during the regular season, any play or situation that involves a violation or potential violation of player safety rules or unsportsmanlike conduct – whether penalized or not during the game – is reviewed for possible discipline as per our standard protocol.”

Around The NFL writer Conor Orr mentioned Rapoport’s statement on the Steelers assistant Joey Porter running on the field due to his concern over Brown. “Assistants are not allowed on the field during injury timeouts,” reported Rapoport. “Medical staff, trainers, attendants and the head coach can come out to check on the welfare of the player… The referees gave Porter the benefit of the doubt because there was real concern for Brown. The officials were working to clear the field and keep the two teams apart when (Bengals cornerback) Adam Jones came in and tried to get at Porter, so he was penalized. There was a lot of talk back and forth and the crew was trying to get both teams to the sidelines.”

Despite the concern or not, Porter could most likely be fined for his actions that took place on the field.
Although this issue is merely the tip of the iceberg that occurred this past Saturday night, because of these actions, we can see potential fines for the Steelers assistant coach, and the Bengals best defensive player missing games next year, it is evident that the events that took place Saturday night in Cincinnati will be remembered for a long time.

Connor Allen
Assistant Sports Editor

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