Here come the big boys.
After the four host teams swept the wild-card round, the division winners who earned byes get to try their hands at protecting the home-field advantage.
Tim Tebow's overtime heroics and the Giants' balance on offense and stinginess on defense were decisive Sunday.
Tebow hooked up with Demaryius Thomas on an 80-yard pass play to lift Denver over Pittsburgh 26-20, a play that took 11 seconds for the quickest overtime finish in NFL history.
"Definitely a special memory. One that will always be very special," Tebow said of his fourth overtime win of the season, against no losses.
Manning, having his best pro season, threw for three touchdowns and even scrambled for 14 yards to get New York's offense on track in a 24-2 victory against inept Atlanta.
"Before the game I said,
Hey, let's have fun, these are special moments and just go out there and play your best,'' Manning said. "I knew all of them would be great and try not to make a big deal about things."
Brees and New Orleans dominated the second half to romp past Detroit 45-28 in the NFC. In the AFC, Houston won in its first playoff game in its 10-year existence, 31-10 against Cincinnati.
And now the powerhouses join the action. NFC South champion New Orleans (13-4) visits West winner San Francisco (13-3) on Saturday. The 49ers were 7-1 at home, winning their last six.
"We played them a month ago. It didn't go very well," Broncos coach John Fox said. "That would be kind of my mindset this minute. I think it will be a huge test. It is a well-coached ... great football team, great organization. It will be at their place, so it will be a huge challenge. It is one we'll look forward to."
The Texans (11-6) visit Baltimore (12-4), which won all eight home games in 2011, including a 29-14 victory over Houston on Oct. 16.
"We made history," said rookie defensive end J.J. Watt, whose sensational leaping interception and 29-yard return for a touchdown was decisive for Houston. "We're excited about another chance to make history up there in Baltimore."
"If we can play defense like that," coach Tom Coughlin said, "we will continue to make ourselves heard in this tournament."
After Pittsburgh (12-5) rallied from 14 points behind to force overtime, Denver won the coin toss and called the perfect play for the defense the Steelers were in.
"I was just saying, `Man trust your speed. Trust your speed. Don't cut back. Don't cut back.' And he kept it straight. He outran the guy," said Willis McGahee, whose fourth-quarter fumble helped Pittsburgh tie it.
Tebow, who led five fourth-quarter comebacks and three OT wins in the regular season, finished with 316 yards through the air. He completed just 10 of 21 passes, with Thomas catching four of them for 204 yards. Tebow had two TD passes and ran for a score.
"Any loss stinks for me and this is no different," Roethlisberger said. "It's hard to put into words right now. It's a frustrating thing."
Brandon Jacobs had 92 of the Giants' 172 yards rushing, and New York twice stymied Atlanta on fourth-and-1 as Ryan's sneaks went nowhere. The defense also stopped Michael Turner on a third-and-inches late in the third quarter. The Falcons couldn't gain any traction on the ground and were held to 64 yards rushing.
"They did a great job of defending us, especially in the second half," tight end Tony Gonzalez said. "That shouldn't happen to a team like we have. We're a lot better than this."