- From Patrick Robinson's pick-six (aided by the pressure from Chris Long) to Trey Flowers's four hits on Blake Bortles, here are some of the player performances that we're still talking about from the NFL conference championships.
The playoffs bring out the best in NFL players, whether it be a new level of performance from an established star or a breakout performance from someone we'll be talking about beyond this January. Here are two such players from each of last weekend’s conference championship matchups, and a little on how they changed the game.
VIKINGS VS. EAGLES
NICK FOLES: Foles played the game of his life in the biggest game of his life. Doug Pederson’s relentless game plan suited the mild-mannered quarterback, thought by many to need his running game as a crutch. Instead, Foles took the Vikings deep on multiple occasions, including a devastating third quarter flea-flicker that sent the No. 1 defense in football home early. While this might be impossible to replicate, New England’s defense is not as good as Minnesota’s and has to now fear the deep ball again.
CHRIS LONG AND PATRICK ROBINSON: The two combined (Long the pressure and Robinson the INT), on the biggest momentum-swinging play of the postseason so far. With the Vikings ahead 7-0, a raucous Lincoln Financial Field went silent until Robinson undercut a route and took it 50 yards for a touchdown. The Eagles tied the score and never looked back. Those plays are the bedrock of any playoff win and Long, a seasoned pass-rushing specialist, took advantage of one of Minnesota’s biggest weaknesses.
JAGUARS VS. PATRIOTS
TOM BRADY: It would be a stunning turn of events if the Patriots won a playoff game without Brady as its centerpiece. Regardless of how torn up his injured throwing hand was, he was playing with stitches against the best pass rush in the league. The Jaguars were taking their shots at Brady whenever they could, as his practice handoff gaffe placed him squarely in the crosshairs. The result, a yardage total of nearly 300 and a pair of touchdowns.
TREY FLOWERS: Flowers was not only tied for the team lead in tackles, but also landed four quarterback hits on Blake Bortles. Bortles’ margin of error was so thin on Sunday, and while he played well (293 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions), every hit and sack helped tip the scales for New England.