Three former Ohio State football stars suited up Sunday for the NFC and AFC Championship games en route to the Super Bowl. The second-to-last weekend of postseason football finished with two blowout games and only one Buckeye heading to the Big Game. With the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots winning their division, Nate Ebner will compete for the Lombardi Trophy just months after competing for gold in Rio.
Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons
Falcons win, 44-21
The Packers had a surprisingly unimpressive performance in the NFC Championship, and now Buckeye center Corey Linsley will miss his chance to play in the Super Bowl. Despite a solid season, Linsley — along with the rest of the offensive line -- struggled against a roaring Falcons defense. The center has one year left on his rookie contract with the Packers and could get an extension in the offseason — even though this happened on Sunday:
Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots
Patriots win, 36-17
Former Ohio State football and Olympic rugby player Nate Ebner was sidelined with a head injury late in the AFC Championship game and was unable to return for the Patriots. Ebner made a great snag on special teams in the first half, leading to big tackle by teammate Johnathan Jones, but didn’t see the field after halftime. Ebner will have two weeks to recover before New England faces the Falcons in Super Bowl LI.
Nate Ebner is personal protector on punt team, plays on KR return, KO coverage and punt return units. That's potentially 4 roles to fill.— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) January 23, 2017
The Steelers offense couldn’t get much momentum on Sunday, but the defense didn’t do much to stop Tom Brady and company tear down the field. Linebacker extraordinaire Ryan Shazier continues to be a force, racking up an additional 7 tackles against the Patriots; finishing the postseason with 18 total tackles and 104 on the season as a whole.
Aside from the loss, Shazier wore these awesome tribute cleats Sunday, honoring Steeler legends like Franco Harris, Troy Polamalu and Buckeye Santonio Holmes.
- Dallas Cowboys’ running back Rod Smith was signed to a reserve/future contract with the team.
- Linebacker Curtis Grant was signed by the New York Giants earlier in the week.
- The Houston Texans promoted linebackers coach Mike Vrabel to defensive coordinator earlier this week; he reportedly had interest from both Washington and the Chargers. It wont be surprising to start hearing his name in head coaching rumors over the next few years.