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NFL 5 2020 What we learned in divisional playoffs 31532340 Real people play this sport Real+people+play+this+sport NFL

Between reducing NFL players to fantasy football statistics and the "Rollerball" aspect of watching the game on TV, it's easy to forget actual human beings are on the fields. Tony Gonzalez reminded us on Sunday that there's real emotion happening out there. The veteran tight end couldn't hold back the tears after Atlanta's 30-28 victory over Seattle. Gonzalez (pictured) had played 16 years and caught 1,242 passes combined with Kansas City and Atlanta without a playoff win, suffering five one-and-dones in his career. Gonzalez admitted to FOX's Laura Okmin that he expected a sixth quick exit when Seattle went ahead in the final minute, but the veteran was part of the Falcons' response. He had a 19-yard reception to get Atlanta in position for Matt Bryant's 49-yard, game-winning field goal. Reason to cry? Only if you're human.

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NFL 5 2020 What we learned in divisional playoffs 31532339 Seahawks have swagger Seahawks+have+swagger NFL

And why not? Seattle allowed the fewest points in the league and was ninth in scoring, with a rookie quarterback. The Seahawks have developed the same swagger Pete Carroll's USC squads had. Outsiders might see cockiness or arrogance, but Carroll instills confidence in every player. The Seahawks believed they could erase a 14-point lead on the road vs. Washington last week, and they did. They believed they could erase a 20-point deficit on the road Sunday vs. the Falcons, and they did. QB Russell Wilson directed three scoring drives that covered 203 yards in less than 8-1/2 minutes. (Pictured, receiver Golden Tate celebrating one of the scores.) The Seahawks made the mistake of thinking that going ahead in the final minute was a job well done, and the Falcons quickly moved in for the winning field goal and a 30-28, deep-breath win. That's a reminder to the Seahawks that champions play 60 minutes, not 59-1/2. How Seattle played in those 59-1/2, however, is a warning to the rest of the NFL for 2013.

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Daniel Shirey - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/01/13/011313-1-NFL-Seahawks-Golden-Tate-OB-G_20130113165920511_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/01/13/011313-1-NFL-Seahawks-Golden-Tate-OB-G_20130113165920511_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 2020 What we learned in divisional playoffs 31531414 Patriots are tougher than you think Patriots+are+tougher+than+you+think NFL

Watching highlight packages, you see Tom Brady dissect defenses with big plays — pinpoint passes and well-executed crossing patterns that turn into huge gains. Watching the game, you see how those plays come about. The Pats' bread and butter comes "in the box," and their receivers are fearless about doing the bulk of the work in the land of linebackers. And don't dismiss that running game — New England was second the NFL in rushing attempts (523) and No. 1 in rushing touchdowns (25). New England's 41-28 victory over Houston on Sunday was textbook as slot receiver Wes Welker and tight end Aaron Hernandez (pictured) feasted over the middle and running backs Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen kept the Texans honest. Wideout Brandon Lloyd was left alone on one TD play because Ridley ran for 23 yards on the previous play as the entire line shifted left, in the direction of the run. On the next play, the Patriots shifted right and sold the run while Brady flipped the ball left to an eager Lloyd. The Pats have plenty in the playbook and on the field to offset the loss of injured tight end Rob Gronkowski.

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NFL 5 2020 What we learned in divisional playoffs 31531413 Texans are like the Falcons Texans+are+like+the+Falcons NFL

Beyond the fact they're both dome teams, the Texans have a lot in common with the Falcons. Both have a dazzling assortment of playmakers on both sides of the ball. Yet both have a recent history of fizzling toward the end of the season and flat performances in the playoffs. The Texans were running on fumes even before their 38-28 loss at New England on Sunday as injuries took a toll on defense and quarterback Matt Schaub (pictured) was unable to find a second wind and elevate his game as the competition toughened. The Texans can take heart in the fact Atlanta seemingly has learned from its playoff failures. (Hosting the NFC title game is an enviable position.) The Texans looked like the best team in the AFC most of the year. Any growth from this season's late failures should give them a chance to be No. 1 from start to finish in 2013.

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NFL 5 2020 What we learned in divisional playoffs 31524844 Ravens have flair for the dramatic Ravens+have+flair+for+the+dramatic NFL

There was that fourth-and-29 conversion by Ray Rice at San Diego when the Ravens' season seemed to be slipping away. There was the game-changing, 47-yard catch-and-run by Rice in the final minute of the first half of their playoff opener vs. the Colts. The Ravens know how to cut it close and still come up big. Well, the Ravens were just warming up. They used a "Did that just happen?" 70-yard pass from Joe Flacco to Jacoby Jones (pictured) with 31 seconds left in regulation to topple No. 1 seed Denver 38-35 in double overtime Saturday. Miracle? Or unforgivable error by the Broncos defenders, letting a receiver get behind them? No matter, the Ravens had one coming to them after that heart-wrenching loss to the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game last season. They know all too well how the Broncos feel after that loss.

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NFL 5 2020 What we learned in divisional playoffs 31524842 Peyton's comeback remains remarkable Peyton%27s+comeback+remains+remarkable NFL

The fact people were pointing in quarterback Peyton Manning's direction after the Denver Broncos lost 38-35 in double overtime Saturday against Baltimore in their playoff opener speaks volumes about his comeback. He has been so good this year that we hold him to the old Peyton Manning standard — perfection. Yup, he forced one when he threw across his body toward midfield in the first OT. That went for an interception and set up the Ravens' game-winning points. But Manning also put his team up by a touchdown in the fourth quarter, and he wasn't on the field when the Broncos allowed a 70-yard, game-tying touchdown pass in the final minute of regulation. Peyton wasn't perfect, but he was Peyton. And that was plenty good all season long.

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Chris Humphreys - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/01/13/lessons4_20130113121443653_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/01/13/lessons4_20130113121443653_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 2020 What we learned in divisional playoffs 31524841 A star was born A+star+was+born NFL

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick had plenty of highlight moments after taking over for injured starer Alex Smith during the regular season. But he also had enough inconsistency that some were unsure whether coach Jim Harbaugh had made the right decision to stick with Kaepernick after the steady veteran Smith got healthy again. After Kaepernick shredded the Packers for a QB-record 181 yards rushing Saturday in San Francisco's 45-31 victory, Harbaugh will face no more questions about that decision. Kaepernick shook off an early pick-six to become the third QB in NFL history with two touchdown passes and two TD runs in a playoff game. It takes a special player to relegate Aaron Rodgers to being an afterthought. Kaepernick is a special player.

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Kirby Lee - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/01/13/lessons1_20130113121443655_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/01/13/lessons1_20130113121443655_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 2020 What we learned in divisional playoffs 31524843 Capers could be in trouble Capers+could+be+in+trouble NFL

By the numbers, Dom Capers has a strong track record as Packers defensive coordinator. Green Bay ranked near the top of the league in defense in his first two seasons, 2009-10, and won the Super Bowl in year two. Then 2011 was a disaster, but the D bounced back to the top half of the league this season. But sights like the one pictured, Packers defenders chasing helplessly, have become all too common in the playoffs. In this case, it was linebackers Erik Walden (No. 93) and Brad Jones (No. 59) unable to contain quarterback Colin Kaepernick on his 56-yard, third-quarter touchdown run in the 49ers' 45-31 victory Saturday. It was bad enough that Kaepernick set a QB record with 181 yards rushing, but Packers defenders openly admitted they had no idea how to stop him and the 49ers read-option attack. "We didn't make any adjustments," safety Charles Woodson lamented to the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

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