The 32 things we learned from the 2020 NFL season's wild-card weekend:
1. The league billed its first postseason opening with consecutive tripleheaders "Super Wild Card Weekend." "Redemption Road" or "Football Exorcism" would have worked just as well.
1a. The Cleveland Browns won their first playoff game in 26 years.
1b. The Buffalo Bills won their first playoff game in 25 years.
1c. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won their first playoff game in 18 years, the last one being their Super Bowl XXXVII triumph over the Raiders.
1d. Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson got a (small) monkey off his back, winning his first postseason start in his third attempt.
1e. The Saints staved off a fluky January defeat … for now.
2. Tom Brady-Drew Brees, Round Three in the divisional round? Yes, please. Sure would've made for a nice NFC championship game … but either of these legends paying a visit to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in the conference title tilt would be just as delightful.
Browns WR Jarvis Landry celebrates with QB Baker Mayfield during Sunday's game in Pittsburgh. (Photo: Charles LeClaire, USA TODAY Sports)
2a. On a related note, get ready to hear quite a bit about the difficulty of beating a team three times in one season. Brees' Saints swept Brady's Bucs in 2020.
2b. Memo to Tampa receivers: Keep Saints S C.J. Gardner-Johnson out of your head … or at least out of earshot.
3. Back to TB12. Saturday, Brady, 43, became the oldest player to throw a postseason TD pass. He was 51 days senior to the previous record-holder, George Blanda, but still looks much younger than the Hall of Famer.
3a. Brady and his former teammate, current Titans K Stephen Gostkowski, are the first players to be members of playoff clubs in 12 consecutive seasons.
3b. Brady had never played in a wild-card game on the road before Saturday.
3c. Brady has now beaten 17 different NFL franchises in the playoffs among his record 31 postseason victories. No other quarterback even has 17 playoff wins. (Hall of Famer Joe Montana's 16 triumphs rank second all time.)
4. Rodgers and (presumably) Rams QB Jared Goff will meet Saturday at Lambeau Field in a matchup of former Cal Bears.
5. Cleveland's Baker Mayfield and Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes will meet next Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium for a matchup of former Texas Tech Red Raiders.
6. Sunday marked the Bears' first playoff road game in 26 years.
6a. Sunday marked the Bears' first playoff game in New Orleans since the legendary '85 team trounced the Patriots in Super Bowl XX.
7. Here's hoping (former?) Colts QB Philip Rivers takes one more whack at reaching Super Sunday. Hate to see Philly Riv stuck with the label "Greatest QB to never reach a Super Bowl."
8. Home-field advantage continues to be overrated, teams going 127-128-1 in their own buildings, the worst mark since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, in this oddest of regular seasons. That trend continues in the playoffs, road clubs prevailing in four of the weekend's six matchups.
9. Sure would be exciting to see Josh Allen and Mahomes have a good ol' shootout in the AFC title round. But you have to wonder if the Bills, so heavily reliant on Allen given their inability to run the ball or play much defense (472 yards allowed to Colts), can survive the surging Ravens in the divisional round.
10. Saturday's meeting between the Bucs (Lori Locust and Maral Javadifar) and Washington (Jennifer King) was the first postseason game to feature female coaches on both sidelines. Positive progress always welcome.
HERstory made. pic.twitter.com/Qw98pnjPME
11. For a team with a history only dating to 1996, the Baltimore Ravens have crafted quite the postseason legacy.
11a. Head coach John Harbaugh now owns eight road playoff wins, most in league history after he broke a tie with Tom Coughlin and Hall of Famer Tom Landry.
11b. The Ravens are 6-0 in the wild-card round, the best record league-wide.
11c. The Ravens are also the only organization with a winning record (11-6) in road playoff games.
12. Jackson joined Colin Kaepernick as the only quarterbacks with multiple 100-yard rushing games in playoff history.
13. The Browns' 28 first-quarter points Sunday were a playoff record since the merger.
13a. Cleveland had not scored at least 40 points in a postseason game since 1954.
14. Was Chicago TE Jimmy Graham's walk-off TD the best ever (in any sport) for a guy playing for the losing side?
Jimmy Graham caught the TD and left immediately
14a. Clearly Bears WR Javon Wims wanted no part of Nickelodeon's graphics … but more on that later.
I guess Javon Wims wasn’t tryna get slimed 😭😭😭
(via @NFLBrasil) pic.twitter.com/xxlDolKLya
14b. And so begins a compelling offseason for Chicago, which must figure out what to do about free-agent QB Mitchell Trubisky, whose largely disappointing four-year stay ended with some of his best football – Sunday notwithstanding – during the Bears' late-season playoff drive.
15. Don't sleep on the New Orleans defense, which set franchise defensive playoff records by limiting Chicago to nine points and 239 yards.
15a. Prior to Sunday, Brees and Saints WR Michael Thomas and RB Alvin Kamara had only played 67 snaps together this season.
16. Titans CB Malcolm Butler picked off his first playoff pass since pilfering Seahawks QB Russell Wilson to ice Super Bowl XLIX six years ago. Sunday was also Butler's first playoff appearance since he was effectively benched by Patriots coach Bill Belichick in Super Bowl LII against the Eagles.
17. Washington became the first team to win its division with a sub-.500 record but then lose its playoff opener.
18. Is one eligible for the Presidential Medal of Freedom coming off a non-playoff season? Asking for a friend …
19. Rams OLB Leonard Floyd collected seven sacks in three games against Seattle this season. He's the first player in the NFL's 101 seasons to have multiple sacks against the same opponent three times in one campaign.
19a. Floyd's teammate, Aaron Donald, has 15 sacks of Wilson in 15 games. Here's hoping Donald's rib injury won't keep him out against Rodgers and the Packers on Saturday afternoon.
20. Gotta be amped for Browns coach Kevin Stefanski and Pro Bowl G Joel Bitonio, the club's longest-tenured player, who merely had their personal playoff debuts delayed a week instead of indefinitely after COVID-19 prevented them from participating in Sunday night's stunner over the Steelers.
21. The pandemic also wreaked havoc beyond the field. NFL Network's Kurt Warner, CBS' Tony Romo and NBC's Mike Tirico all had to quarantine and broadcast from home this weekend.
22. Cleveland's Mayfield became the first quarterback drafted No. 1 overall to win his playoff debut since Alex Smith did the same nine years earlier.
22a. Bummer that Smith didn't get the chance to notch his third playoff victory for his third different franchise, his injured calf ending his magnificent comeback season prematurely.
23. It's official: The Steelers are the worst 11-0 – and now 12-5 – team in NFL annals.
24. Colts LB Darius Leonard is playing at 215 pounds? Hope it lasts, dude.
25. Prior to Sunday, the last wild-card game staged in Nashville was the "Music City Miracle" 21 years earlier.
26. In case you missed an epic matchup of sublime punters Saturday, Seattle's Michael Dickson outbombed L.A.'s Johnny Hekker, the best to ever do it for my money.
27. Titans RB Derrick Henry ran for 40 yards with just 2.2 per attempt Sunday against Baltimore. Both were season lows for the league's newest 2,000-yard rusher.
28. Buffalo's Tyler Bass drilled a 54-yard field goal Saturday, the longest by a rookie in a playoff game during the Super Bowl era (since 1966).
29. Indianapolis coach Frank Reich's myriad gambles didn't exactly pay off, but I'd play for (or hire him) any time.
30. Can we stop dancing on one another's midfield logos, y'all? I mean JuJu got the message … nothing good comes of it.
Savage moment. #Ravens get the interception and dance on the #Titans logo. Revengepic.twitter.com/Hni74EiTgH
31. Good thing I'm a hip dad who likes The Weeknd's "Blinding Lights" … because it's all you're going to hear leading up to halftime of Super Bowl LV.
32. However, I can still be a "get off my slime-covered lawn" Gen Xer when it comes to seeing NFL games on Nickelodeon. I get it – attract the youngsters' eyeballs – but meh … especially when you can't successfully screen out the expletives picked up by on-field microphones in a game where a player (Bears WR Anthony Miller) gets ejected for throwing a punch. (I also enjoy being at odds with my Millennial colleagues who are less-experienced fathers.)
The Saints defense when Mitchell Trubisky gets into obvious passing situations: pic.twitter.com/VPh56SHz3L
32a. But, admittedly, pretty cool that victorious Saints coach Sean Payton allowed himself to be slimed post-game …
32b. … while equally as horrifying that he didn't first remove his sweet Air Jordan XIs. You're supposed to be thinking a few plays ahead, Coach.
Sean Payton Slimed!pic.twitter.com/tu2Ce7wWVA
Follow USA TODAY Sports' Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis
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