Buffs In The NFL: Wild Card Playoff Edition
It's January and that means the NFL playoffs are underway and in last weekend's wild card games, four former University of Colorado football players battled for their respective teams to advance in the playoffs.
The first playoff game that involved a CU alum was played between the Seattle Seahawks and the Washington Redskins. Tyler Polumbus, starting at right tackle for the Redskins, was protecting Robert Griffin III until the first-year quarterback left the game with an injury and was replaced by fellow rookie Kirk Cousins.
The fourth quarter injury was too much for the Redskins to recover from as Seattle escaped Washington, D.C. with a 24-14 victory. This was the second playoff appearance for Polumbus as he also appeared in a 2010 game with Seattle. For the Redskins, it had been seven years since the franchise's last playoff appearance.
Mason Crosby and Brad Jones of the Green Bay Packers are two former Buffs still alive in the hunt for the NFC Championship.
However advancing in the playoffs for the Packers meant they had to defeat the Minnesota Vikings, a team who had just defeated the Packers in the regular season finale. The biggest concern for Jones and his teammates was facing Pro Bowl running back Adrian Peterson, who rushed for 199 yards and a touchdown in the week 17 contest.
The wild card game would yield far different results as Peterson rushed for only 99 yards and never reached the end zone. Jones made his first start in a playoff game and recorded five tackles to lead Green Bay's fierce defense. Crosby connected on all three PAT attempts and his lone field goal on the day from 20 yards out.
Green Bay will play at the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC divisional round Saturday at 6 p.m. MST.
On the AFC side of the bracket, Jimmy Smith was playing for the Baltimore Ravens in what could have been teammate Ray Lewis' final game in the NFL. Luckily for Smith and his future hall of fame teammate, the Ravens were able to defeat the Andrew Luck led Indianapolis Colts 24-9.
The Ravens will now face Justin Bannan and the Denver Broncos in the AFC divisional round this Saturday at 2:30 p.m. MST. Smith has been a part of the playoffs in each of his first two NFL seasons with Baltimore while Bannan will be making his third appearance in the playoffs. His first two visits came while he played in Baltimore from 2006-09.
Nate Solder, like Bannan, received the luxury of a first round playoff bye and watched the wild card games to find out who he and the New England Patriots will take on in the divisional round. The Patriots will have a rematch on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. MST with the Houston Texans, who they routed 42-14 on Monday Night Football in week 14 of the regular season.
All five of the remaining Colorado alums hope to continue to roam on in the playoffs, all the way to February and Super Bowl XLVII.