College football may be over, but eight former Ducks are still seeing action on the gridiron in the NFL Playoffs this January.
Each of this weekend’s four Divisional Round games featured a pair of Oregon alums, and only University of Miami and Wisconsin have more alumni still in contention for a title.
Maybe no game this weekend had a bigger Oregon influence on it than Saturday’s showdown between the Baltimore Ravens and the Denver Broncos. Defensive end Haloti Ngata, drafted by the Ravens 12th overall in the 2006 NFL Draft, tallied two tackles and an assist in Baltimore’s 38-35 overtime win. More importantly, he clogged the middle for a Ravens’ defensive line that held the Broncos’ strong rushing game to 3.0 yards per carry and no touchdowns.
On the other side of the ball, only Ravens receiver Anquan Boldin hauled in more receptions than Ed Dickson‘s three. The Ravens tight end graduated from Oregon in 2010 and was drafted in the third round. His blocking also proved important — Baltimore running back Ray Rice racked up 131 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries.
LaMike chips in. In Saturday’s second game, San Francisco knocked off NFC North champion Green Bay 45-31. Rookie running back (and statistically the best running back to don an Oregon uniform) LaMichael James saw limited action in the Niners win — mostly because he’s still backing up Pro Bowl running back Frank Gore — but he still made his mark. His final statline read three carries for 21 yards, with an addition seven yards on one reception.
James originally recorded playing time this year as a returner on special teams and added one return for 23 yards against the Packers.
Another ex-Duck, Will Tukuafu, was listed as a defensive substitute for the Niners but didn’t find his way into the box score.
A consolation prize for Unger. In Sunday’s first matchup, a thriller between Seattle and Atlanta, Seahawks center Max Unger almost made lineman history when running back Marshawn Lynch fumbled on the goal line.
That’s former Duck Max Unger (@bigislandduck) with the recovery for the Seahawks. After review, Lynch gets the TD anyway. What a comeback.
— Adam Jude (@A_Jude) January 13, 2013
Despite the Seahawks losing to the Falcons 30-28, Unger earned NFL First-Team Honors earlier in the week. The recognition defines Unger as the best at his position. He’s also headed to the Pro Bowl this year, along with Ngata.
For Atlanta, Drew “D.J.” Davis added one catch for six yards.
All quiet in the secondary. In the last game of the weekend, New England’s lop-sided 41-28 win over Houston, two Ducks saw limited action.
Eddie Pleasant, the rookie defensive back who earned First-Time All-Pac-12 honors last season as a senior, added an assist on special teams. Pleasant’s shown consistent improvement this year and was promoted from the team’s practice squad in late December.
For the Patriots, safety Patrick Chung had two interceptions in 12 starts this regular season but has been relegated to a supporting role with a shoulder injury and the subsequent emergence of fellow defensive backs Devin McCourty and Steve Gregory. Like Pleasant, Chung was also credited with an assist on special teams. It could’ve been worse — a late onside kick bounced off him, but the Patriots recovered and maintained possession.