NFL players of the week: Alex Smith is valiant in defeat

Andy Lyons

The league's best passer in the Wild Card weekend happened to occur in a losing effort.

Wild Card weekend is in the books and while results of the games weren't wholly surprising, close contests gave way to some stellar individual performances.

Passer of the week: Alex Smith, 30/46, 378 yards, four touchdowns, zero interceptions, 119.7 passer rating

Andrew Luck won the game in a remarkable comeback, but that doesn't take away from Alex Smith breaking a record held by Joe-freaking-Montana.

Smith's four touchdown passes are a new Chiefs playoff record, which is pretty remarkable for a franchise that has been around since Dwight D. Eisenhower was in office.

It wasn't just that Smith completed the passes he should have, but he also made the throws few thought he was capable of. Deep balls, shovel passes -- everything was fair game in an impressive display. He looked like he was having fun on the huge stage in Indianapolis ... that was until the collapse started to happen.

Rusher of the week: Colin Kaepernick, seven attempts, 98 yards

It's unconventional, but the shoe fits.

Kaepernick's run game was a huge reason the 49ers made it through a close game against Green Bay. It wasn't quite as impressive as his game against the Packers in 2012, but he still ran option plays with perfect efficiency, en route to 14.0 yards per carry.

Mark Ingram of the Saints had a good day also, but for my money it was Kaepernick who was the best rusher of the weekend.

Receiver of the week: T.Y. Hilton, 13 receptions, 224 yards, two touchdowns

Big-time players find a way to come through when their team needs them the most. Few players better typified this ideal than Hilton in his mammoth game against the Chiefs.

The quick-twitch receiver made quick work of the Kansas City secondary, routinely losing defensive backs attempting to cover him. Yards after the catch were Hilton's calling card on Saturday, and he set team playoff records with his 224-yard day.

Defensive player of the week: Ahmad Brooks, six tackles, 2.0 sacks, one forced fumble

San Francisco needed a big game from its defense in order to stop Aaron Rodgers, and Ahmad Brooks obliged with one of his best games of the season.

The 49ers linebacker made waves not only as a pass rusher, but in run support too -- helping to hold Eddie Lacy to under 4.0 yards per carry.

Brooks will need to have another similar impact against Carolina in order to stop Cam Newton and continue the 49ers' playoff run in 2014.

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