Utah Players in the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs

Utah Players in the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs

by Daniel Olsen

It was an eventful weekend in the NFL. While some players went home, many of them with Utah ties had solid individual performances. It’s time to break down the stats of every Cougar, Ute, Aggie and Wildcat that played last weekend.

Fred Warner – 49ers

Fred Warner had arguably the best performance of the weekend for any of the players coming out of Utah colleges. The BYU linebacker tied a team high six tackles with one being for a loss.

Warner made a bold post-game declaration that his team is not done yet. The 49ers will play the winner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Los Angeles Rams next Sunday in the NFC Championship.

Mitch Wishnowsky – 49ers

The former Ute punter was also a huge factor in a game that proved special teams to be the difference. He punted five times for 234 yards. That’s an average of 46.8 yards per punt. Two of those punts were pinned inside the 20. One of those punts pinned the Packers deep in their own territory and resulted in a blocked punt that the 49ers would scoop and score for the tying touchdown.

Jordan Love – Packers

The former Aggie quarterback was on the sidelines as the backup to the odds-on MVP favorite Aaron Rodgers. With the Green Bay Packers getting ousted from the playoffs yet again, things could look different in Green Bay next year. Rodgers said so himself following the game. It’s possible he could head elsewhere to finish off his career. This could open up an opportunity for Love to be the starter for the Packers.

Tipa Galeai – Packers

While the former Aggie defensive player was on the bench with Love, he has seen some action in the regular season this year. He finished the year with two tackles in the loss to the Lions. He had 12 tackles and a sack in his first year with the team.

He was assigned to the practice squad as an undrafted free agent in 2020. He was promoted to the active roster this season following a few injuries that the Packers had on the defense. He and Jordan Love played two seasons together at Utah State.

Jalen Davis – Bengals

Former Aggie Jalen Davis was finally listed on the active roster after nursing an ankle injury. While he didn’t see any action, expect to see him in special teams action as well as possibly some defensive schemes. He has seven total tackles on the year.

Eric Weddle – Rams

Eric Weddle is one of the most famous defensive players in Ute history. After retiring, he made a reunion tour with the Los Angeles Rams. He recorded four tackles in the win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This was absolutely critical as Tom Brady made a late surge to almost win the game. Weddle will look to be a key cog in the defense of the Rams.

Terrell Burgess – Rams

While Terrell Burgess didn’t have the highest statistical outing, he made several key plays to help the Rams get out to an early lead. The former Ute had two tackles in this game, but also got some pressure in the backfield. In one such possession, he drilled a receiver deep in their own territory.

Matt Gay – Rams

While he had a critical miss, the former Orem High soccer player and Ute kicker had a chance for redemption. Former Lou Groza winner Matt Gay kicked a 30 yard field goal as time expired to lead the Los Angeles Rams to a 30-27 victory over his former team. He had one of the most successful performances over the weekend in terms of impacting the final score of the game.

Jonah Williams – Rams

The former Weber State Wildcat is the one remaining player representing his team as well as the Big Sky Conference of the FCS. While he didn’t record any stats, Williams could prove to make some key plays in the Super Bowl run for the Rams. They will play their NFC West foe in the San Francisco 49ers on FOX at 4:30 p.m. MST on Sunday.

Troy Warner – Buccaneers

While he didn’t record any stats, the former BYU Cougar can still hold his head high. He can also cheer on his brother Fred as his 49ers look to make a Super Bowl run. Had the Buccaneers been successful in their comeback, the two brothers would have squared off in the NFC Championship.

Daniel Sorensen – Chiefs

Former Cougar Dirty Dan led his team in tackles at Arrowhead Stadium. He had nine on the day. While the first three quarters had decent defense, it was an absolute shootout in the final quarter. 28 points were scored between the two teams in the final nine minutes of regulation. Luckily for Sorensen, his team one the toss, so there wasn’t any pressure on the defense. It was apparent that whichever team won the toss was winning that game.

Darwin Thompson – Chiefs

While he was waived at one point, former Aggie Darwin Thompson has been added back to the team that made him a Super Bowl Champion in his first year. While he didn’t record any stats in this game, he may get a shot in a short yardage situation like he did in the Super Bowl a few years ago. Time will tell how he will represent the Aggies in the remainder of these playoffs.

Josh Gordon – Chiefs

The former Ute receiver was just waived by the Chiefs, but they hope to re-sign him. It would be a good idea to keep an eye on him in the coming weeks. Could he get back on the practice squad and prove that he belongs on the big stage? He once led the NFL in receiving yards with the Cleveland Browns in 2013.

Zayne Anderson – Chiefs

While he recorded a tackle in the Wild Card game, the former Cougar did not record any stats in this game. However, that doesn’t mean he won’t make a play in the AFC championship game this weekend.

Matt Bushman – Chiefs

While he was assigned to the Chiefs practice squad a few weeks ago, Bushman has a chance to prove himself. Perhaps he won’t participare in the playoffs this year, but he will help the active roster get ready and hopefully learn some things along the way to help his career in the future.

Zack Moss – Bills

While he didn’t record any stats in this game, the former record holder for the Utes has had success this season. He played the same amount of games as last year, but had a little less Carrie’s, yards and yards per carry. He did have four touchdowns on the year though to match last year.

He did get a carry for no gain in the blowout win to the Patriots in the Wild Card round. The jury is still out on whether he will get more opportunities in the remainder of the playoffs.

Star Lotuleilei – Bills

The Utes were well represented in the playoff game with Cincinnati. He recorded three tackles in this close overtime loss. He had an impressive game considering the time he has had off due to COVID issues.

Taron Johnson – Bills

Last but certainly not least is Taron Johnson out of Weber State. Remember that last year he tied a record for longest interception return for a touchdown in a playoff win over the Ravens. He took the ball 101 yards in that game.

While he didn’t force any turnovers this time, he certainly made his presence felt. He had seven tackles and a sack in the game. It was a clean game on both sides as neither team committed a turnover.

Sneak Peek

Ten players that competed in Utah colleges could see action on Sunday in the AFC and NFC championship games.

If you’re an Aggie fan, pay attention to the AFC championship as there is a player on each team that could see action.

If you’re a BYU fan, you have plenty of players on the Chiefs and also one star on the 49ers to cheer for.

If you’re a Ute fan, definitely check out the Rams as they have three Utes on their roster.

Weber State fans will also be on Jonah Johnson watch.

Overall, it will be another great weekend of football before taking a two week break prior to a Super Bowl that is guaranteed to feature at least a few players with Utah ties.

Featured image courtesy Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

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