2023 NFL Wild Card Saturday Lives up to Its Name

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Here at the sports desk located somewhere below decks of the Good Pirate Ship RedState, after the 2023 College Football Playoff National Championship debacle, we were a tad worried going into this weekend. Would the NFL redeem the game in terms of watchability? As it turned out, yes … but only after most everyone had turned off the game.


The first matchup of the day featured the San Francisco 49ers, who’ve been steamrolling the opposition behind a third-string quarterback, and the Seattle Seahawks, who started the season surprisingly strong but, at season’s end, barely squeaked into the playoffs courtesy of an errant Aaron Rodgers pass (and before you say anything, you try throwing a football with a broken thumb). The game mirrored Seattle’s season, with the Seahawks’ one-point halftime lead melting in the second half as the 49ers thundered to a 41-23 win.

The question now becomes: What will the 49ers do at quarterback? Presumably, even if Jimmy Garoppolo is able to play this post-season, would San Francisco pull rookie Brock Purdy who’s done nothing but win since taking over? Also, what happens if the 49ers go to, and win, the Super Bowl with Purdy? Garoppolo is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. In his first two seasons, Trey Lance, San Francisco’s presumed quarterback for the next decade-plus and who the team paid through the nose for to move up and draft, has shown an amazing inability to stay on the field. Lance’s trade value is approximately 37 percent lower than the going price of his rookie card as, despite all the talent he supposedly possesses, he has nothing to show for it outside of faithfully attending his rehab sessions. So what will the team do if Purdy leads it to the promised land? Hey thanks, kid, here’s your ring, now go grab a clipboard? That’ll make for a happy locker room.


While Purdy was playing like a #1 draft pick as opposed to the absolute last pick of the draft, Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence spent most of the first half of his playoff debut against the Los Angeles Chargers playing like he was the absolute last pick of the draft and not the first player selected. Four interceptions thrown by Lawrence, plus the Jaguars’ defense showing an inability to stop a butterfly’s sneeze, led to a 27-0 Chargers lead late in the second quarter. The matter looked to be over …

… except it wasn’t.

Lawrence finally got his head in the game and led Jacksonville to a touchdown just before the half. While 27-7 is hardly a preferred scenario if you’ve got the seven, there was at least a glimmer of hope. Going into the second half, Sports Cliché Number Five entered the picture. Everyone say it along with me: “The next score is critical.”

On its first possession in the second half, Jacksonville completed its second straight successful drive, Lawrence reclaiming his mojo as his team now trailed 27-14. Los Angeles notched a field goal, making it once again a three-score game. Guess what the Jaguars did when they got the ball back? Yup, touchdown. Followed by another touchdown. Followed by a field goal as time ran out to secure a most improbable 31-30 victory.


Games like this make watching sports fun…unless you’re a Chargers fan.


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