Former Penn Staters are known for performing well at the highest level. This year is no exception as many have advanced to the playoffs with their respective teams. Here’s a closer look at how some former Nittany Lions performed last weekend and what the road to the Super Bowl holds.
Miami Dolphins: Mike Hull, Cameron Wake, Jordan Lucas
The Dolphins rout at the hands of the Steelers on Sunday afternoon wasn’t the most entertaining game of the weekend and had few bright spots, but one was certainly the pressure from defensive end Cameron Wake. Wake tied the team for most tackles against Pittsburgh with six, three of which were solo, and one was for a loss.
In the limited time he saw, former Linebacker U player Mike Hull recorded one solo tackle. Former safety and rookie Jordan Lucas also saw limited time but recorded one tackle.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Jesse James
Penn State’s three-year standout tight end only recorded one catch for six yards on two targets in the Pittsburgh win. Perhaps his most important contribution was his key block allowing Antonio Brown to get the edge and score a 50-yard touchdown off a bubble screen:
.@AntonioBrown's 50-yard TD!
How would you name it?
— NFL (@NFL) January 9, 2017
James will hope to help the Steelers in their playoff journey on Sunday afternoon against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Oakland Raiders: Matt McGloin
In the Raiders ugly loss to Bill O’Brien’s Houston Texans, Moxie didn’t record a snap after hurting his non-throwing shoulder the week before.
Starter Connor Cook completed only 18 of 45 passes totaling for 161 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions. Needless to say, Cook did not look good and many questioned coach Jack Del Rio’s decision to keep him in to start the second half instead of putting McGloin in. At the end of the game, Del Rio said his decision was a combination of McGloin’s injury and confidence in Cook.
Seattle Seahawks: Garry Gilliam
Former Nittany Lion tight end turned NFL right tackle Gary Gilliam got the start against the Detroit Lions on Saturday night and helped quarterback Russel Wilson throw for over 200 yards and two touchdowns in Seattle’s 26-6 win.
Detroit Lions: Anthony Zettel
Zettel unfortunately didn’t record any stats in his team’s match-up against the Seahawks despite limited playing time, but he did snag a picture and trade jerseys with the opposing Lion, Gary Gilliam:
ZBoooneeeee!!! From Penn State to the Playoffs. Keep grindin my brother!! pic.twitter.com/L9BWnNRPk9
— Garry Gilliam Jr. (@Garry_Gilliam) January 8, 2017
In The Divisional Round: What To Expect
Kansas City Chiefs: Tamba Hali and Ross Travis
Jesse James and the Steelers will travel to Kansas City to take on Tamba Hali and his fierce Chiefs defense. Hali is sure to play a big role in the pass-rush in order to stop Ben Roethlisberger.
The former Nittany Lion basketball player turned tight end Ross Travis hasn’t seen too much playing time this year, playing second fiddle to Travis Kelce, which will most likely be the case again on Sunday. But hey, for the hoopster turned football player, stranger things have happened.
New England Patriots: Chris Hogan
The former Penn State lacrosse player has been a key contributor in the New England pass game this year and has easily become one of Tom Brady’s favorite targets on the deep ball. Hogan has more than 600 receiving yards this year and four touchdowns, so it seems like he’s found a good home in New England. He’ll face off against the Texans Saturday night and will look to help Brady, who will be missing his favorite target in Rob Gronkowski.
Dallas Cowboys: Sean Lee and Jack Crawford
Sean Lee has undoubtedly had a great season for the Cowboys, as he’s currently tied at the No. 11 spot in the NFL in tackles. Lee has led a defense that’s had a huge turnaround in recent years, helping the Cowboys win their division. Lee leads the team in tackles with an astounding 145 and the Cowboys actually featured him in a short video as the leader of their defense despite never playing in a game as big as the NFL playoffs:
How do you remain committed when injuries steal your chances for success?
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) January 8, 2017
Defensive end Jack Crawford will help Lee and the Cowboys defense try to contain Aaron Rodgers on Sunday night with his pass-rush. Crawford had three sacks in the regular season and will look to increase that total against a Packers offensive line that surrendered five to the Giants last Sunday.