Road, sweet road.
Three teams won away games on wild-card weekend, with the San Francisco 49ers capping the victorious road shows with a 23-20 win at frigid Green Bay on Sunday.
Phil Dawson’s 33-yard field goal as the game ended lifted the defending NFC champs into the divisional round, where they will play at Carolina. That figures to be much warmer than the near-zero temperatures at Lambeau Field.
“It is not that cold,” Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick said. “It is all mental.”
Meanwhile, the Chargers and Saints further proved the old adage for the NFL playoffs: “Just Get In.”
San Diego took away the ball four times in a 27-10 win at Cincinnati on Sunday that extended the Bengals’ losing ways in the postseason to 23 years. The Chargers outscored Cincinnati 20-0 in the second half, handing the Bengals their first home loss this season.
The Chargers next play at AFC top seed Denver next Sunday.
On Saturday, NFC sixth seed New Orleans won 26-24 at Philadelphia. The last time both sixth seeds won was 2010, when the Packers wound up winning the Super Bowl.
New Orleans got its first road playoff victory since entering the league in 1967.
The only home winner, Indianapolis staged a sensational comeback against Kansas City to win 45-44.
The Saints visit top-seeded Seattle, where they lost 34-7 during the season, next Saturday. The Colts go to New England, the AFC’s No. 2 seed, next Saturday night.
49ERS 23, PACKERS 20: At Green Bay, Kaepernick threw for 227 yards and ran for another 98. He escaped a blitz on third-and-8 and scrambled for an 11-yard gain to the 27 with 1:13 left. The 49ers (13-4) ran down the clock and Dawson, a15-year veteran in his first season in San Francisco, made the winner.
Mason Crosby’s 24-yard field goal tied it at 20 for the Packers (8-8-1) with 5:06 left.
San Francisco has won seven straight. Next up, the NFC South champion Panthers, who beat the 49ers 10-9 on Nov. 10 at San Francisco.
“They got us the first time,” All-Pro linebacker NaVorro Bowman said, “we need to get them this time.”
“We owe them,” Kaepernick said.
Bitterly cold temperatures turned Lambeau Field into a green-and-gold ice box. It was 5 degrees at kickoff, and the winds made it feel like minus-10.
But all in all, the worst of an arctic front that was expected to plunge Wisconsin into a deep freeze avoided the Packers game. And the conditions didn’t seem to have too much of an effect on the quality of play.
“I won’t lie to you. It got pretty cold,” linebacker Patrick Willis said. “But as I said earlier in the week, there’s no better way to warm up than to get this ‘W.’
CHARGERS 27, BENGALS 10: At Cincinnati, San Diego, which has won five straight, barely got into the playoffs, needing an overtime victory against Kansas City’s subs last weekend. Now, the Chargers (10-7) head to AFC top-seeded Denver (13-3), where they won 27-20 last month — the Broncos’ only home loss this season. The original AFL teams have never met in the playoffs.
“We talked all week about this being the fifth round,” quarterback Philip Rivers said, “so the sixth round will be in Denver next week. We know Denver is a great team ... we’ll be ready for the challenge. Go see if we can score one more point than they can.”
The Chargers also avenged their most recent loss, a 17-10 home defeat to Cincinnati, which finished 11-6 but is 0-5 in the postseason under coach Marvin Lewis.