NFL Nation: Antonio Freeman
Five nuggets of knowledge about wild-card weekend:
Rematch in Houston: This is the fourth time under the current playoff format that teams are meeting in the wild-card round in back-to-back seasons. In each of the previous three instances, the team that won the first game also won the second game. Houston won on Jan. 7, 2012, at Reliant Stadium 31-10. The Bengals haven’t won a playoff game since 1990. Every other NFL franchise has won a playoff game since then. Cincinnati is 0-5 all-time on the road in the postseason, tied with the Saints (also 0-5) for the worst road record in NFL postseason history. If the Bengals lose, Marvin Lewis will become the first head coach to lose his first four playoff games since Wade Phillips (now the Texans' defensive coordinator) lost his first four before earning his postseason victory in 2009.
Big plays from Andre: Andre Johnson has 10 receptions of 30 or more yards this season, tied for fourth most in the league. The Bengals' defense has allowed only 10 such passing plays all season, the fewest in the NFL. The Texans' ability to find such a play could be a gigantic factor in what I expect to be a defensive game. Matt Schaub has looked to Johnson too much in the Texans’ three recent losses. If the Texans are able to spread the ball around better, it can actually increase opportunities for the throws to Johnson to result in back-breaking, field-flipping plays.
Wayne in the end zone: As good as Reggie Wayne has been this season, less than 5 percent of his 105 catches and less than 3 percent of his 180 targets have been for touchdowns. ESPN Stats & Info says his one touchdown every 36 targets is Wayne’s lowest touchdown rate in the past five seasons, and the sixth-lowest rate in the NFL this season among receivers with at least three touchdowns. (The Colts' Donnie Avery has the fourth lowest with one touchdown every 38.7 targets.) Wayne needs 162 receiving yards to pass Cliff Branch for the third most in NFL postseason history and he needs one touchdown reception to tie Fred Biletnikoff, Antonio Freeman, Randy Moss and Hines Ward for third most touchdown receptions in NFL postseason history.
Also: A.J. Green has four touchdown catches this season on play-action passes, tied for third most in the league. Andy Dalton has not thrown a touchdown pass to any other receiver out of play-action this season. The Ravens are trying to become the fourth team in NFL history to win a playoff game in five straight seasons. Of the 16 teams he has faced more than once since 2008, Schaub’s Total QBR of 89.4 against the Bengals is his best against any team. Arian Foster’s 285 rush yards are the most ever by a player in his first two career playoff games. Joe Flacco’s not been pushing the ball downfield as much since Jim Caldwell took over as offensive coordinator.
Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert
And on Wednesday, they rested -- at least from their media obligations. Minnesota players had Wednesday off, and their counterparts in Green Bay are going through a half-day of meetings in preparation for the Oct. 5 showdown at the Metrodome.
The breather gives us a chance to consider some of the bigger issues and larger implications of Favre-Packers I. ESPN’s Jeffri Chadiha, for example, looked at what happens when longtime stars relocate to new cities. David Fleming of ESPN the Magazine broke down all 43 of Brett Favre’s fourth-quarter comebacks, finding a few holes in the statistical compilation.
As a grunt blogger, I started making a chart that I’ll invite you to complete. The major allure of this game is seeing Favre play against his former team. So before that takes place, let’s take a moment to remember Favre’s top performances against his current one. I’ll list three Favre versus the Vikings' games that come to mind, and you’re welcome to add your thoughts to the comments below. I’ll complete the chart, with your help, by the end of the week.
Let’s get to it.
1. The Antonio Freeman play
Date: Nov. 6, 2000
What happened: Favre tossed a 43-yard touchdown to Freeman in overtime during a driving rain at Lambeau Field. The ball bounced off Vikings cornerback Cris Dishman and into the hands of Freeman, who had slipped and was lying on his stomach when the ball arrived. Freeman jumped up, dashed into the end zone for a 26-20 victory. This play is more about Freeman than Favre, but it’s the first play that popped in my head when I thought about Favre and the Vikings.
2. The Christmas (Eve) Miracle
Date: Dec. 24, 2004
What happened: In a Week 16 matchup to decide the NFC North, Favre brought the Packers back from a seven-point deficit midway through the fourth quarter. Included in that span was a fourth-down touchdown pass to receiver Donald Driver and a 2-minute drill that concluded with Ryan Longwell’s 29-yard field goal on the last play of a 34-31 victory. Favre completed 30 of 43 passes for 365 yards and three touchdowns in the game.
3. ”Yesterday’s news”
Date: Sept. 26, 1999
What happened: With 12 seconds remaining, Favre threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Corey Bradford to lift the Packers to a 23-20 victory. The play came on fourth down. After the game, then-Vikings coach Dennis Green ordered his players to move on quickly from the disappointment. Then, in a news conference minutes later, Green famously refused to discuss the play because he considered it “yesterday’s news.”
Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
TAMPA, Fla. -- Muhsin Muhammad's spot in history is gone.
The Carolina receiver had held the record for the longest play from scrimmage in Super Bowl history -- an 85-yard catch in Super Bowl XXXVIII. But Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison took Muhammad's place in the record books with his 100-yard interception return for a touchdown at the end of the first half.
Green Bay's Antonio Freeman now has the third-longest play in Super Bowl history -- an 81-yard reception in Super Bowl XXXI.