It’s playoff time and a bevy of former Iowa players saw their season either continue for at least another week or come to an end, on either the roster or on practice squads. Let’s go in reverse chronological order in what felt like a really odd, crazy Super Wildcard weekend (they are calling it Super Wildcard, for some reason; please rest assured, that is the last time I will ever refer to it in that manner).
Anthony Nelson, Tristan Wirfs, and Chauncey Golston
I can’t believe I was harangued for not including Anthony Nelson updates as often as I maybe should. Sorry? One thing that is in the “sorry, not sorry” category is, that Tampa team sucks and we MUST, as a society, rise up against this bullshit with under .500 teams making the playoffs. You won your division? Congrats - no one cares that you won an awful division at 8-9. And now you’re 8-10. Good job, good effort.
Nelson finished Monday’s 31-14 hilarity against the Cowboys with 3 tackles, while Golston had 1 and a quarterback hit. Wirfs started at right tackle again. It doesn’t really matter, as everything about this game was overshadowed by the kicking shenanigans from Brett Maher. Huh?
Also in the “Huh?” category - why was this played on Monday? San Francisco, Dallas’s opponent in the Divisional Round, played on Saturday. This isn’t the regular season. Why are we playing a Monday Night Football game in the playoffs? That seems like a nice advantage for San Francisco.
Tyler Linderbaum, Geno Stone, and Kristian Welch
Unfortunately, Linderbaum’s excellent rookie season came to an end Sunday night as the Ravens lost in Cincinnati, 24-17. This game also had hilarity, a Tyler Huntley fumble at the Cincinnati 2 that was recovered mid-air by Sam Hubbard, who rumbled 98 yards for the decisive score. Definite Tyler Sash vs. Indiana in 2009 vibes to that play. TRICK OR TREAT, IOWA CITY. Also, you probably remember Sam Hubbard.
Great play by Sam Hubbard. When I think of him, I remember how strongly he held onto Nate Stanley’s leg as Iowa went on to win 55-24 in Iowa City on November 4, 2017 pic.twitter.com/t4CyAI7yUH— Slater (@SlaterKinnick_) January 16, 2023
People forget that this game occurred on November 4, 2017, and that Iowa won, 55-24.
Welch and Stone were also involved Sunday, notching 1 tackle apiece. Stone picked up what felt like a crucial penalty on a Cincinnati drive after the fumble return, extending the drive with a roughing the kicker penalty that 100 percent felt like it would end with Cincinnati slamming the door on Baltimore with more points. Good news, bad news - Cincinnati had to punt three plays later so the penalty wasn’t a back-breaker, but Baltimore couldn’t do anything and eventually lost.
I know he is injured but why was Lamar Jackson not in attendance with his teammates?
Dane Belton, Casey Kreiter, and T.J. Hockenson
Two more Hawks saw their season continue in Belton and Kreiter. Belton recorded 2 tackles in New York’s “upset” of the Minnesota Vikings, 31-24 in Minneapolis, while Kreiter is the Giants long snapper. This didn’t feel like an upset - these teams played in Week 16 and Minnesota won on a 61-yard bomb of a field goal as time expired in a really tough game. It’s exactly who New York would have wanted again and this time they got the win.
Hockenson had a fantastic game, hauling in 10 passes for 129 yards. Unfortunately, this game will be remembered for his involvement in Minnesota’s final play, a 4th and 8 with just under 2 minutes remaining near midfield. Kirk Cousins threw to Hockenson on a route designed to go 3 yards. The throw was a tad high so Hockenson also had to jump, making for an immediate tackle. SO...a 3-yard route, on 4th and 8, your last play of the season, and an Iowa player was involved. That is, as they say, not great.
I don’t love Kirk Cousins but he’s a perfectly fine quarterback. If you aren’t in the Patrick Mahomes-Josh Allen-Joe Burrow phylum of quarterbacks, it’s a lot of similar-ish players. But Cousins is not the reason the Vikings lost. Their defense mostly stinks and is shockingly unathletic. The Giants aren’t a terribly explosive team but Daniel Jones shredded the Vikings defense. Still...
A.J. Epenesa, Ike Boettger, and Micah Hyde
Epenesa recorded no stats against Miami in another bonkers, bizarre game with these two AFC East foes. Buffalo was rolling against Miami’s third-string quarterback, up 17-0, then they decided to turn the ball over consistently. A pick here, a pick there, a fumble return for a touchdown for Miami and suddenly Buffalo trailed. But they’re good enough to overcome another wild game with the Dolphins and extend their season. I’m keeping an eye on Epenesa next week - Cincinnati is obviously good enough to win that game, but their offensive line is seriously banged up. Time for an Epenesa game?
Micah Hyde, injured all the way back in Week 2 with what was thought to be a season-ending neck injury, has been seen doing light workouts with the team and is no longer on injured reserve. He did not play against Miami and won’t play against Cincinnati, but if Buffalo advances, he could be available again.
Brandon Scherff, Coy Cronk, C.J. Beathard, and Nick Niemann
In easily the wildest game of the week, Scherff and the upstart Jaguars staged one of the biggest comebacks in playoff history, overcoming a 27-0 deficit to win at the end of regulation, 31-30. Cronk was a late call-up from the practice squad, Beathard is the back-up quarterback, and Scherff did Scherff things.
'Sorry didn't see ya there' - Scherff pic.twitter.com/44INO9NhaS— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) January 15, 2023
Is that guy still alive?
What a dumb game though. Jacksonville had an all-time bad half from Trevor Lawrence, but he bounced back to have a pretty excellent game post-interception fest. But really, how is
San Diego Los Angeles losing this? The Chargers OC is the fall guy right now, and not Brandon Staley? Joey Bosa’s meltdown, the play-calling, the missed touchdown to Keenan Allen where he was wide open...that is a collapse that won’t soon be forgotten.
George Kittle, Noah Fant, and Austin Blythe
This briefly competitive game featured three Hawks and Kittle’s side came out on top, overcoming a 17-16 halftime deficit to win in a 41-23 rout of Seattle.
Kittle’s line was relatively quiet - 2 receptions for 37 yards - but he caught a 2-point conversion attempt early in the 4th quarter to push San Francisco’s lead to 31-17. Nice toss by BCB, nice catch by Kittle.
Unfortunately, Fant and Blythe are eliminated from the playoffs. In his first playoff game, Fant caught 1 pass for 11 yards. Seattle’s ground game accounted for 104 yards on 25 carries - not a bad number - but this game got out of hand in the second half and nullified Seattle’s run game. And that San Francisco defense accounted for 3 sacks. That’s a nasty group. Seattle can walk out with their heads held high though - they made the playoffs, their rebuild is way ahead of schedule, and - Broncos Corner! - they have all of Denver’s picks. Them and Detroit - watch out for them going forward.