Saints up next for Cardinals
It took a few extra minutes, but the lineup for the divisional round of the NFL playoffs is set.
The Arizona Cardinals beat the Green Bay Packers, 51-45, in overtime Sunday on Karlos Dansby’s 17-yard fumble return for a touchdown to round out the field.
Earlier, the Baltimore Ravens routed the Patriots, 33-14.
Arizona (11-6) will face the NFC’s top seed, the Saints
(13-3), in New Orleans on Saturday. The reward for Baltimore (10-7) is playing the AFC’s top seed, taking on the Colts (14-2) later Saturday in Indianapolis.
The Ravens’ win at New England sends the Jets to San Diego. A Cowboys-Vikings matchup in Minnesota already was set after Dallas won a playoff game for the first time since 1996 on Saturday night.
The Jets, Ravens and Cowboys all made statements this weekend that they’re in top form. The Cardinals seemed poised to do the same when they raced out to a 17-0 first-quarter lead. But the Packers (11-6) scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns to send the game to overtime.
The Ravens went ahead for good on the very first play from scrimmage, Ray Rice’s 83-yard touchdown run, and led 24-0 after one quarter. Baltimore forced Tom Brady into three turnovers on the first four possessions for the Patriots (10-7).
The Ravens face the AFC South champion Colts in a rematch of their meeting in Baltimore on Nov. 22. Indy won 17-15 in a game in which its defense held the Ravens to a field goal after it had first-and-goal at the 1 in the fourth quarter.
“We’ll play our game against the Colts; it’ll be our will against their will,” Rice said. “It’ll be a fourth-quarter game. The Xs and Os will take care of themselves. Playoff football is a little different from regular season. In the regular season, those plays are not being made.”
The Cowboys’ 34-14 rout of Philadelphia sent them to the Metrodome for a meeting with Brett Favre and the Vikings (12-4) next Sunday.
The fifth-seeded Jets played error-free ball in frigid Cincinnati to beat the AFC North champion Bengals 24-14 on Saturday afternoon. With their stingy defense and versatile running game, the Jets (10-7) look as formidable as coach Rex Ryan has claimed they are. Their next test comes Sunday against the AFC West champion Chargers (13-3).