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NFL playoff recap: Top seeds advance to the big game

The NFL Playoffs began with 12 teams on Jan. 4. Today only two heavyweights remain, the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos, with a winner-take-all battle set for Feb. 2 in New Jersey. 

The 2013-2014 NFL Playoffs have provided us with some unforgettable moments. In the first game we saw the Kansas City Chiefs jump out to a seemingly insurmountable 38-10 lead over the Indianapolis Colts. However, behind the arm of star quarterback Andrew Luck, the Colts stormed back, outscoring the Chiefs 35-6 in the final 25 minutes of the game to steal the victory by a score of 45-44 in what was the largest comeback in NFL playoff history. The second game of the playoffs did not disappoint either. We saw the New Orleans Saints squeak out a close 26-24 win on the road against the Philadelphia Eagles. 

Day two of the playoffs didn’t have quite the same drama as day one. We saw the only Ohio team in the playoffs, the Cincinnati Bengals, be trounced by the San Diego Chargers 27-10 in a game that left many people wondering if Andy Dalton is the quarterback of the future in Cincinnati. In the nightcap we saw the San Francisco 49ers travel to Green Bay to take on the Packers. The wind chill reached an incredible 14 below zero as players struggled to stay warm. Ultimately, the 49ers emerged victorious behind the arm and legs of quarterback Colin Kaepernick by a score of 23-20 to complete the upset. 

In round two of the playoffs the Seahawks squared off against the Saints. Despite a furious comeback attempt from quarterback Drew Brees, the Saints would lose the game 23-15. In the second game of the day, the New England Patriots destroyed the Colts 43-22 in a game that was never close. The next day, Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers picked up where they left off in the first round, ousting Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers with ease: 23-10 in another upset for San Francisco. Later that afternoon, the Broncos squared off against the Chargers, with the Broncos coming in as a heavy favorite. Behind the arm of quarterback Peyton Manning, the Broncos dominated the entire game until the fourth quarter. Philip Rivers and the Chargers gave the Broncos all they could handle, putting up 17 points in the game’s final 15 minutes, but ultimately it wasn’t enough: they fell to Denver 24-17. 

The conference championship games were set. Battling for the AFC crown would be Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady as their respective Broncos and Patriots would square off. The NFC champion would come down to bitter NFC West rivals, Seattle and San Francisco. As we have grown accustomed to, the Broncos looked impressive the entire game. Peyton Manning carved up the Patriots defense with surgical precision, emerging victorious 26-16. In the NFC championship game, the Seahawks and 49ers slugged it out the entire contest, neither team giving an inch. With just seconds left on the clock, Kaepernick floated a ball into the corner of the endzone toward wide receiver Michael Crabtree. Seahawks corner Richard Sherman made a twisting acrobatic play, leaping into the air to deflect the ball into the hands of teammate Malcom Smith, sealing the Seattle victory 23-17. Some after-game antics by Sherman, which consisted of him calling Crabtree “mediocre at best,” have only served to fuel the rivalry between these two squads. Retribution will have to wait until next season, however, as the 49ers' season ended with the interception by Smith. 

And then there were two. The Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos wait anxiously with an epic battle looming. It will be a battle of the best offense against the league's best defense. Who will emerge victorious? Will Peyton Manning add to his legacy? Will Richard Sherman provide us with more venomous sound bites? Only time will tell, but one thing I know for sure is that you’re not going to want to miss this one. 

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