PHOTOPHOTOGRAPH BY ROBERT BECK FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
Knile Cruise As if America wouldn't watch anyway, the NFL postseason immediately demanded attention: In the first minute of the first game of the first weekend of the playoffs, the Chiefs' Knile Davis took the opening kickoff 106 yards. The touchdown quieted Houston's NRG Stadium, and the place only got quieter as the afternoon wore on. Visiting Kansas City crushed the Texans, 30--0, ending the Chiefs' streak of 22 seasons without a playoff victory.
PHOTOTHOMAS B. SHEA/GETTY IMAGES
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PHOTOPHOTOGRAPH BY AARON DOSTER USA TODAY SPORTS
Burfict Storm After the Chiefs exorcised their postseason demons, the Bengals, who last won a playoff game in 1991, found a way to preserve theirs. With 1:36 left, Cincinnati had the ball and a 16--15 lead over the Steelers, but a fumble by running back Jeremy Hill gave Pittsburgh the ball on its own nine-yard line. The Bengals' meltdown had begun. Linebacker Vontaze Burfict (55) was called for headhunting after a vicious shot (left) that left Steelers wideout Antonio Brown (84) with a concussion. Then safety Adam Jones (below right) drew an unsportsmanlike conduct flag. The 30 yards in penalties set up an easy field goal that gave Pittsburgh an 18--16 win.
TWO PHOTOSPHOTOGRAPHS BY TOM LYNN FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
No, Adrian Few franchises can match the Bengals' history of postseason heartbreak—but the Vikings are on that unenviable list. On Sunday a fourth-quarter fumble by Minnesota's Adrian Peterson (left) led to a field goal that gave Seattle a 10--9 lead. Still, with 26 seconds left Vikings kicker Blair Walsh lined up to try a 27-yard field goal (page 12). How'd that go? Let's just say that sitting through the third-chilliest game in NFL history (-6º) isn't all that reminded Minnesotans of how cold and cruel the playoffs can be.