By Jibriel Taha
The six former Cardinal who made it out of “Super Wild Card Weekend” all made contributions in the Divisional Round as their teams played for conference championship game appearances.
The Saturday afternoon game between the Los Angeles Rams and Green Bay Packers was the only game this weekend to not feature a former Cardinal. The Packers, the NFC’s top seed, took care of business at home with a 32-18 victory and will host the NFC Championship game on Sunday afternoon against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
In the nightcap, Baltimore Ravens safety Jordan Richards ’15 played in 21 of 24 special teams snaps, but the Ravens fell 17-3 on a windy night in Orchard Park. In a game that appeared to be going down to the wire, a 101-yard interception return for a touchdown by Buffalo Bills cornerback Taron Johnson with a minute left in the third quarter swung the game in the Bills’ favor and ended the Ravens’ season. For the Bills, former Cardinal defensive linemen Harrison Phillips ’18 and Trent Murphy ’14 recorded four and one tackles, respectively, in the victory.
The early game on Sunday featured tight end Austin Hooper ’17 of the Cleveland Browns as his team faced off against the Kansas City Chiefs. Hooper’s two receptions for 16 yards, as well as a quarter and a half of Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes in the locker room due to concussion protocol, were not enough for the Browns to pull off the upset. They fell 22-17, closing the book on Hooper’s first season with the Browns. He finished the year with 46 receptions for 435 yards and four touchdowns on the year.
The final game of the weekend saw contributions from Saints running back Ty Montgomery ’15, who picked up 14 yards on four rushing attempts as well as a 13-yard reception. Saints guard Andrus Peat ’16 also registered a solid performance, and was a top-five performer for his team according to Pro Football Focus. The Saints fell 30-20 at home to Tom Brady and the Buccaneers in what was likely the final game of Saints quarterback Drew Brees’ career.
Phillips and Murphy are the last former Cardinal remaining this season, and they will head to Kansas City on Sunday afternoon to try to knock off the defending champions and secure the Bills’ first Super Bowl appearance since 1994.