Were those wild-card playoffs wild enough for you? Wait till you see what's coming this weekend, because the divisional playoffs have a history of being wild and wacky, sometimes magnificent and often controversial.
Franco Harris's Immaculate Reception came in a divisional playoff 32 years ago. The longest game in NFL history, with the Miami Dolphins beating the Kansas City Chiefs, was in the 1971 divisional round. Who can forget the San Diego Chargers' 41-38 overtime victory over the Dolphins in a 1981 divisional playoff, during which Chargers tight end Kellen Winslow caught 13 passes and blocked a potential winning field goal?
Controversy? How about the New England Patriots' overtime victory against the Oakland Raiders in the Tuck Game three years ago, when Adam Vinatieri sent the divisional game into overtime with a 45-yard field goal in a blizzard?
"The divisional round is the best weekend of football all year," says special teams ace Ike Reese of the Philadelphia Eagles, who will line up against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. "The Super Bowl is great, but it's just one game. The conference championships are just one day. But in the divisional round, you're getting eight quality ball clubs and four real good games.
"It's like the NCAA basketball tournament. Everybody talks about the Final Four, but to me the best part is the second week, because you've weeded out the low seeds and every game is a good one."
Except in the NFL last week the low seeds refused to be weeded out. Three wild-card road teams, including the NFC's two accursed 8-8s, knocked off three division champs. Never before had that happened. The results created intriguing matchups:
?On Saturday the New York Jets, who upset the Chargers (box, page 46), get another shot at the 15-1 Pittsburgh Steelers and sensational rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who is 13-0 as a starter.
?The St. Louis Rams, who many assumed were headed to cold-weather Philadelphia after they beat the Seattle Seahawks (box, page 47), got a reprieve and instead will take their high-powered offense indoors to the Georgia Dome for a Saturday night game against the Atlanta Falcons and electric quarterback Michael Vick.
?The Vikings, who tripped up the Green Bay Packers (box, page 48), head to Philadelphia for a game that pits quarterback Daunte Culpepper and limping wideout Randy Moss against an Eagles secondary that features three Pro Bowl players.
Form held in the fourth wild-card game, as the Indianapolis Colts ran the Denver Broncos out of the tournament, 49-24. It was as if some higher power were saying, "No, I will not ruin the keynote matchup of the season."