8. RB Daniel Herron, Colts
With one of the worst rushing attacks in football not much was expected of Colts RB Dan Herron (a former Bengal facing his former team) who had a career high of 88 yards from scrimmage in a game and recorded only 524 yards all season. But once QB Andrew Luck started handing the ball of to Herron he was consistently off to the races, recording 56 rushing yards (and a 4.7 yards/carry average) and a career-high 10 receptions for 88 receiving yards (second on the team behind T. Y. Hilton). Herron also added a rushing TD early in the first quarter to give the Colts their first of many leads in the game. He may not be a permanent fixture on the Colts offense, but he made his presence known in that game.
7. LB Luke Kuechly, Panthers
Looking at the stat sheet it’s easy to not look twice at Kuechly’s numbers for the game against the Cardinals – 10 tackles, 1 INT, 2 pass defenses. But Kuechly’s value to the Panthers in that game went beyond the stat sheet. His coverage skills forced Cardinals QB Ryan Lindley to hold onto the ball long enough for the team to amass four sacks and eight tackles for a loss. His second pass defense was a deflection that tipped the ball into the hands of Safety Tre Boston for a game-sealing INT. He did everything possible on the field and the Carolina defense reaped the rewards, holding the Cardinals to an NFL-record low 78 yards in a playoff game, and clinching their first playoff win in a decade.
6. LB Terrell Suggs, Ravens
Speaking of big-impact LBs, there may not have been a bigger key to the Ravens win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on defense than LB Terrell Suggs,who finished the game with six tackles, a tackle for a loss, a pass defended and an INT. Suggs was all over the place making key stops and making the Steelers offense miserable all day. Arguably the most iconic play of the Wildcard weekend came on an INT he made where he caught a tipped pass between his thighs without letting it hit the ground and pulling it out to grab a critical turnover in the final minutes of the game to help seal a Ravens victory.