Two teams earned spots in conference championship games with divisional-round wins on Saturday, which featured some awesome individual performances and some stinkers.
The San Francisco 49ers blew out the Minnesota Vikings in the first-ever playoff game at Levi’s Stadium, thanks to Nick Bosa and the Niner defense. Later on in the evening, the Tennessee Titans stunned the Baltimore Ravens to advance to the AFC Championship Game.
These are the biggest studs and duds from Saturday’s divisional-round action.
Stud: Nick Bosa was everywhere
Star rookie pass rusher Nick Bosa opened up the season with monster game after monster game and was at the midway point a legitimate candidate to win Defensive Player of the Year. The long season wore the Ohio State product down, though, and while he was still very good in the second half his stats suffered a hit.
After a week of rest due to the bye, Bosa was a dynamo on Saturday to lead a dominant defensive effort that propelled San Francisco to a blowout win.
The second overall pick of last year’s draft led the 49ers with six solo tackles. He made plays in coverage. He stuffed the run. And most importantly, Bosa sacked the quarterback, coming up with two takedowns and his very own Rod Tidwell moment near the end of the game.
Dud: Dalvin Cook was a non-factor
During the regular season, Cook was seventh in the NFL with 81.1 yards per game on the ground. He was also a huge key to Minnesota eking out a win over the New Orleans Saints last weekend in the wild-card round, rushing for 94 yards and two touchdowns.
But on Saturday in Santa Clara, Cook was practically invisible.
Carrying the ball nine times, he tallied 18 yards. And while Cook did haul in six passes, he gained a grand total of eight yards on those receptions. Folks, that’s 24 yards on 15 touches.
Stud: Tevin Coleman took the game over
From week to week, it’s hard to know which 49ers running back will shine the brightest. Raheem Mostert had a huge impact for San Francisco on Saturday, both as a runner and special-teams ace. But when the 49ers needed a bell cow to carry the load against a damn good Vikings defense, it was Tevin Coleman doing the heavy lifting.
The 49ers pounded the rock in the second half after Jimmy Garoppolo threw a brutal interception right to Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks. Coleman did a bunch of the work. All told, the running back carried the ball 22 times, racking up 105 yards and two touchdowns.
Dud: Minnesota’s offensive line got torched
There isn’t a lot to say here other than simply point out how brutal the Vikings were up front offensively against a dominant 49ers defense. And it was evident both in the running and passing games.
Kirk Cousins had no time to throw. He completed a respectable 21-of-29 passes but managed just 126 net passing yards because Minnesota’s offensive line gave up six sacks for a loss of 46 yards.
The Vikings ran the ball just 10 times all game long, quite simply because every time they did try it the 49ers shut things down. With a long run of six yards in the game, Minnesota rushed for a total of 21 yards.
Stud: Derrick Henry is a runaway freight train
The Titans are currently destroying opposing defenses on a weekly basis with a dynamite offensive line that’s in a groove and absolutely loves blocking for Derrick Henry. The former Heisman winner from Alabama, fresh off his 200-yard performance against the New England Patriots, was unstoppable Saturday night, too.
Henry was a workhorse, toting the pigskin 30 times on the ground. He racked up 195 yards, embarrassed Earl Thomas with a powerful stiff-arm in the open field, caught two passes for seven yards and capped off his legendary night with a trick-play jump-pass touchdown to Corey Davis.
Dud: Lamar Jackson came up small
Credit goes to the Titans for figuring out how to boggle Lamar Jackson. No team had come close to doing that since early in the regular season, and he broke multiple significant records during his MVP-caliber regular season.
On Saturday night in Baltimore, though, Jackson was rough to watch. He was his usual electric self on the ground, piling up 143 yards rushing thanks to multiple sensational runs. But when it came time to pass, Jackson wasn’t sharp and made uncharacteristic mistakes, finishing with three turnovers.
Stud: Jurrell Casey dominated up front
Big defensive tackle Jurrell Casey had five sacks during the regular season for the Tennessee Titans. He’s known for his ability to penetrate and make plays behind the line of scrimmage. And that’s exactly what he did against the Ravens Saturday night.
Casey spearheaded a remarkable defensive effort against Baltimore. He personally sacked Lamar Jackson twice, and his forced fumble of Jackson in the third quarter led to a Titans touchdown on the offensive side.
Dud: Mark Ingram was a liability
We don’t blame Mark Ingram for wanting to play against the Titans in the divisional round. But the truth is he wasn’t the team’s best option to team up with Jackson in the backfield. Playing through a calf injury, he was nowhere near as explosive as he was when healthy during the regular season.
Gus Edwards should have gotten more run as the primary back when the game was still within reach in the first half. He was the team’s most explosive rushing option outside of Jackson. Unfortunately, he got just three chances to run the ball and the Ravens never found the balance on offense that was their hallmark all season long.