Heinicke starts for Washington vs. Brady, Bucs

Monitoring Desk

The Latest on wild-card Saturday in the NFL playoffs (all times EST):

8:20 p.m.

Alex Smith is inactive with a calf injury. So Taylor Heinicke is getting his second career NFL start when Washington hosts Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the wild card playoff Saturday night.

Heinicke’s only other start came on Dec. 23, 2018, when he was with Carolina and the Panthers lost to Atlanta 24-10. Heinicke was 33 of 53 for 274 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions that day.

The Buccaneers are in the playoffs for the first time since 2007 but this is Brady’s 12th consecutive playoff appearance. He won an NFL record 30 playoff games and six Super Bowls with the New England Patriots.


8:15 p.m.

The Los Angeles Rams have ended Seattle’s 10-game home winning streak in the playoffs with a 30-20 wild card win punctuated by five sacks and a pick-6 of Russell Wilson.

The third-seeded Seahawks pulled to 30-20 with 2:28 remaining on DK Metcalf’s second touchdown catch of the game. But the Rams recovered the ensuing onside kick.

The win may have been costly: The Rams suffered key injuries to quarterback John Wolford, star Aaron Donald and receiver Cooper Kupp.

Wolford started but injured his neck in the fist quarter. And Jared Goff was pressed into duty less than two weeks since he had three pins surgically inserted into his broken right thumb.

Donald suffered a rib injury on a tackle of Russell Wilson after collecting two sacks and Kupp limped into the locker room after injuring his right knee in the closing minutes.

The Seahawks last lost a home playoff game in 2004 when they were beaten 27-20 by the then-St. Louis Rams.


7:50 p.m.

The Los Angeles Rams have taken a commanding 30-13 lead with less than five minutes remaining in their wild card game at Seattle on a Jared Goff-to-Robert Woods 15-yard touchdown pass.

The Rams are on the verge of handing the Seahawks their first playoff loss at home since 2004. The Seahawks have won 10 consecutive home playoff games.

The Seahawks have struggled against the league’s best defense, converting just 1 of 11 third downs and turning the ball over twice, both of which led to Rams touchdowns.


7:25 p.m.

The Los Angeles Rams are leading the Seattle Seahawks 23-13 early in the fourth quarter. But the Rams are without star Aaron Donald and quarterback John Wolford.

Donald has a rib injury and Wolford was taken via ambulance to a hospital after injuring his neck in the first half.

Wolford’s injury pressed Jared Goff into the game just 12 days after he had three pins inserted into his right thumb that was broken in a Week 16 loss at Seattle.

Matt Gay’s 36-yard field goal with 11:33 remaining put the Rams ahead by 10 in their quest to hand Seattle its first home playoff loss since 2004.


7 p.m.

Rams defensive star Aaron Donald is questionable to return with a rib injury he suffered when he tackled Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson in the third quarter of the NFC wild card opener at Seattle.

Donald appeared to be grabbing at his abdomen and after being checked briefly on the sideline walked to the locker room with athletic trainers.

Donald had three tackles and two sacks prior to getting hurt.

Led by Donald, the Rams led the league in several defensive categories in 2020. They allowed the fewest points per game at 18.5 and fewest yards per game at 281.9. They also had the second-most sacks in the NFL this season with 53.

The Rams lead the Seahawks 20-13 with 8:25 remaining in the third quarter.


6:30 p.m.

Rams quarterback John Wolford has been transported to a hospital via ambulance for observation after injuring his neck in the NFC wild card opener at Seattle.

Wolford was injured on a hit by safety Jamal Adams on a designed run in the first quarter.

Wolford got the start because Jared Goff was just 12 days removed from thumb surgery on his throwing hand after breaking it at Seattle in Week 16.

Goff hasn’t been very effective but the Rams got a pick-6 from Darious Williams and a big first half from rookie running back Cam Akers, who rushed for 97 yards and had another 45 yards receiving.

The Rams lead 20-10 at the break. They are 36-0 when leading at the half in coach Sean McVay’s four seasons.


6:15 p.m.

The Los Angeles Rams have taken a 20-10 halftime lead over the Seahawks in their wild card game at Seattle.

Cam Akers’ 5-yard touchdown run with 1:57 left in the first half ended the Rams’ streak of eight trips into the red zone without a touchdown.

It was also the Rams’ first offensive touchdown. Their other one came courtesy of Darious Williams’ pick-6 of Russell Wilson, which was the Rams’ fifth defensive score of the season.

The Seahawks have won their last 10 home playoff games, but their famous earsplitting 12th Man crowd is absent because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Seahawks will receive the second-half kickoff.


6 p.m.

Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson threw a 51-yard touchdown pass to D.K. Metcalf to cut the Los Angles Rams’ lead to 13-10 in the second quarter of their wild card game.

On Seattle’s previous possession, Wilson threw a pick-6 to Darious Williams, who picked him off twice in Week 10.

Williams returned the interception 42 yards for the game’s first touchdown.

Matt Gay has two field goals for the Rams and Jason Myers has one for Seattle.


5:30 p.m.

The Chicago Bears have ruled out leading tackler Roquan Smith and second-leading receiver Darnell Mooney for their wild card game against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

They were injured in the regular season finale against Green Bay and did not practice during the week. Smith injured his left elbow and Mooney suffered an ankle injury after setting career highs with 11 catches for 93 yards.

Smith’s injury leaves the Bears without a disruptive force at inside linebacker and makes containing the Saints much more difficult, particularly with star running back Alvin Kamara activated after missing last week’s win over Carolina because of COVID-19 concerns.

Smith had a career-high 139 tackles and ranked second in the league with 18 tackles for loss.

The Bears also activated linebacker Manti Te’o and defensive back Marqui Christian from the practice squad on Saturday.


5:15 p.m.

Quarterback Jared Goff has entered the Rams’ wild card game at Seattle just 12 days removed from thumb surgery on his throwing hand.

Goff was pressed into duty when John Wolford was hit in the head on the Rams’ second drive and went to the locker room to be evaluated for an injured neck.

Safety Jamal Adams lowered his shoulder and hit Wolford in the head after the backup quarterback gave himself up on a keeper.

Wolford got the starting nod for the second straight week after Goff broke his right thumb when he hit a defender’s helmet when the Rams played the Seahawks in Week 16.

The Rams’ only other quarterback is Blake Bortles who is inactive.


4:40 p.m.

The NFC wild card weekend is under way with the Los Angeles Rams visiting the Seattle Seahawks and John Wolford is getting the start for the Rams with Jared Goff just 12 days removed from thumb surgery on his throwing hand.

The Seahawks are in the playoffs for the ninth time in 11 seasons under coach Pete Carroll and for the eighth time in quarterback Russell Wilson’s nine-year career.

The Rams have been in the playoffs in three of coach Sean McVay’s four seasons.

The Seahawks won the NFC West at 12-4 and the Rams went 10-6 to secure a wild card berth. The teams split their regular season series with both teams winning at home.

The Rams beat Seattle 23-16 in Week 10 and the Seahawks defeated Los Angeles 20-9 in Week 16.


4:30 p.m.

The Buffalo Bills have won a playoff game for the first time in 25 years.

They held off Philip Rivers and the Indianapolis Colts 27-24 in the first of six wild card games this weekend.

After allowing two fourth-quarter touchdowns, the Bills defense stiffened in the final minute while the Colts were trying to into field goal range.

On fourth down from midfield, Rivers heaved a Hail Mary toward the goal line that was knocked down.

Buffalo’s last playoff win came on Dec. 30, 1995, when they beat the Miami Dolphins 37-22 in the wild card round.

Before Sunday, the Bills had lost six straight times in the playoffs, including a 22-19 overtime loss at Houston last year.


3:55 p.m.

The Indianapolis Colts have pulled within three points of the Buffalo Bills with 6:13 remaining in the fourth quarter of their wild card game.

Philip Rivers threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Jack Doyle and then hit Doyle with the 2-point conversion to pull the Colts to 27-24.

The last time the Bills hosted a playoff game was back on Dec. 28, 1996, when Buffalo lost 30-27 to Jacksonville.


3:45 p.m.

Colts coach Frank Reich chose to go for a 2-point conversion following a penalty but the run failed, leaving Indianapolis trailing the Bills 24-16 early in the fourth quarter at Buffalo.

The Bills responded by driving for a 54-yard field goal that put them up 27-16 with just over eight minutes remaining.

Reich’s decision to go for 2 following a touchdown throw from Philip Rivers was a head-scratcher because an extra point kick would have left the Colts trailing by seven points.

Reich also made a crucial decision late in the first half that backfired when he bypassed a chip shot field goal that would gave put Indianapolis ahead 13-7. They failed to score the touchdown on fourth-and-goal from the 4.

The Colts responded with a 96-yard touchdown drive for a 14-10 halftime lead and haven’t trailed since.


3:35 p.m.

The Buffalo Bills have taken a 24-10 lead over Indianapolis in their AFC wild card game on Stefon Diggs’ 35-yard touchdown catch from Josh Allen.

That prompted Chargers cornerback Chris Harris Jr. to tweet, “people who passed up on Josh Allen looking real crazy right now lol,” a dig at his former boss, John Elway, who bypassed Allen in the 2018 NFL draft to select Bradley Chubb at No. 5.

The Bills grabbed Allen at No. 7 and Allen rewarded them by setting several franchise records in 2020 and leading Buffalo into the playoffs as the AFC’s No. 2 seed.

Elway meanwhile is giving up his GM duties in Denver and is interviewing several candidates to replace him this weekend. Elway is staying on as president of football operations.


3:25 p.m.

The Buffalo Bills are taking a 17-10 lead over Indianapolis into the fourth quarter at Buffalo.

The Colts have driven deep into Bills territory twice and come up empty, once on a failed fourth-and-goal and another time on a missed 33-yard field goal.

They went for it on fourth-and-goal from the 4 late in the first half and failed to score. The Bills responded by driving 96 yards for Josh Allen’s touchdown run that put Buffalo ahead 14-10.

The Bills, who have never lost a playoff game in which they led at halftime, made it 17-10 on Tyler Bass’s 46-yard field goal in the third quarter.

The Colts responded with another long drive, this one reaching the Buffalo 15-yard line in 13 plays. But Rodrigo Blakenship’s 33-yard field goal attempt hit the right upright.


3:05 p.m.

The Seattle Seahawks will play their first home playoff game since January 2017 hosting the Los Angeles Rams. The Seahawks’ last home playoff game was a 26-6 win over Detroit on Jan. 7, 2017.

Seattle has won its past 10 home playoff games, but its last loss came against Saturday’s opponent.

The Seahawks lost to the St. Louis Rams in the wild-card round of the 2004 playoffs, 27-20 in Seattle. It completed a three-game season sweep by the Rams.

During its 10-game home playoff win streak, Seattle has outscored its opponents 282-171.

The Rams and Seahawks split their season series in 2020.


2:40 p.m.

It’s halftime at the first playoff game in Buffalo in 25 years and the Bills are ahead 14-10 at the break.

QB Josh Allen scored on a 5-yard keeper with 14 seconds left in the first half to put Buffalo ahead.

Allen is the fifth player since 1940 to have a TD pass, TD run and TD catch in his playoff career. He joins Nick Foles, Kordell Stewart, Freeman McNeil and Julian Edelman in that exclusive club.

Allen caught a touchdown pass from John Brown in 22-19 overtime loss to Houston in last year’s playoffs.

Allen’s TD run capped a 96-yard drive. The Bills have had poor starting position all afternoon, starting drives at their own 3, 15, 11, 6 and 4.

The Bills have never lost a playoff game in which they were leading at halftime.


2:05 p.m.

Indianapolis has taken a 10-7 lead over Buffalo early in the second quarter.

Rookie running back Jonathan Taylor scored from a yard out for the Colts’ first touchdown after two punts and a field goal on their first three drives.

Taylor has rushed 12 times for 45 yards.

This is Buffalo’s first home playoff game since 1996.

Colts quarterback Philip Rivers is making his seventh playoff appearance but just his second in the last seven seasons.


1:45 p.m.

Josh Allen’s 3-yard touchdown toss to tight end Dawson Knox has given the Bills a 7-3 lead after the first quarter of the first playoff game at Buffalo since 1996.

Allen’s touchdown throw capped an 85-yard drive after Rodrigo Blakenship put the Colts ahead 3-0 with a 30-yard field goal.

The Colts were the best in the AFC during the regular season with 66 points on opening drives, second only to Green Bay in the NFL.

But they stalled at the Buffalo 39 and punted on their first possession Saturday.


12:55 p.m.

The postseason kicks off Saturday on the heels of the highest-scoring regular season in NFL history.

The 2020 season was packed with more points (12,692) and touchdowns (1,473) than any of the league’s previous 100 years.

A record five teams averaged at least 30 points per game, led by the Green Bay Packers at 31.8, just ahead of the Buffalo Bills at 31.3.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers averaged 30.8 points, the Tennessee Titans 30.7 points and the New Orleans Saints 30.1.

Four of those teams play on what the NFL is calling “Super Wild Card Weekend” with Green Bay earning the NFC’s first-round bye.

Each of the last four Super Bowls have featured teams that both ranked in the top-5 in scoring during the regular season.


12:45 p.m.

The NFL’s expanded wild card weekend kicks off with the Buffalo Bills hosting a playoff game for the first time since 1996.

The Indianapolis Colts visit Buffalo in the first of three games Saturday. The Bills earned the No. 2 seed in the AFC’s seven-team playoff field behind Kansas City.

That game will be followed by two NFC games: the Rams visit Seattle and Tom Brady leads the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against Washington.

Brady is making his 12th consecutive playoff appearance and the Buccaneers are making their first postseason appearance since 2007.

Washington won the middling NFC East despite a 7-9 record to earn a home wild card game. The Buccaneers are 11-5.

Courtesy: AP News