CIF-SS alumni in the NFL Playoffs: Wildcard Weekend edition
The NFL playoffs are upon us. While LA-area fans eagerly await news of the league's possible return, there were quite a few players that got their start playing high school football in SoCal on our television screens during the opening weekend of the playoffs.
Here's a look at some of the notable CIF-Southern Section alumni taking part in the NFL's Wildcard Weekend on Saturday and Sunday:
Richard Sherman (Dominguez)
The reigning NFC Champion Seattle Seahawks began the playoffs trying to become only the third team in NFL history to reach three straight Super Bowls. Traveling to Minnesota amid freezing temperatures, the Seahawks initially trailed through three quarters on Sunday. Sherman did his share however, with six tackles and helping to hold Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to just 146 yards passing.
Eventually, an Adrian Peterson fumble and a missed 27-yard field goal by the Vikings' Blair Walsh allowed Sherman and the Seahawks to narrowly escape with a win. They'll hit the road again to take on the Carolina Panthers in the divisional round next Sunday, Jan. 17.
Clay Matthews (Agoura)
The former USC Trojan and his Green Bay Packers were also on the road Sunday. They overpowered the Washington Redskins behind a 17-point second quarter in route to a 35-18 win. Matthews was his usual pesky self throughout the win, forcing a Kirk Cousin's fumble off a sack and recording two tackles. The Packers are back in action against the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday, Jan. 16.
Matt Kalil (Servite)
Matthews' fellow former Trojan was not so lucky this weekend. Kalil's Vikings fell to Sherman and the Seahawks 10-9. The Vikings tackle had a difficult day dealing with Pro Bowler Michael Bennett. The team managed a paltry 58 yards rushing behind Kalil's blocking, including just 45 yard from regular season rushing champ, Peterson.
DeSean Jackson (Long Beach Poly)
The former Jackrabbit's season is also over. Jackson had just two catches for 17 yards on Sunday. But you got to wonder how the game would have been different had he dove for the pylon after a catch in the first quarter.
He'll never learn.
Originally called a touchdown, Jackson was later ruled to have not crossed the goal line with the football before going out of bounds. The call on the field was reversed, the Redskins had to eventually settle for a field goal and Jackson cost yet another team six points because of a lack of focus.
Vontaze Burfict (Corona Centennial)
First, the good. Burfict's sack of Ben Roethlisberger at the end of the third quarter knocked the Steelers' quarterback out of the game and sparked a Bengals' run of 16 unanswered points to take the lead. Later, Burfict intercepted a Landry Jones pass with 1:43 remaining in the fourth quarter to presumably seal a Bengals' victory.
Now, the not so good...
Burfict put into a motion a chain of events that lost the game for the Bengals leaving them without a playoff win since 1991. His high hit on wide receiver Antonio Brown on an incomplete fourth down pass with 22 seconds to go resulted in a 15-yard penalty and a Steeler first down. Adam Jones would then bump a ref in the resulting confusion as Brown was helped off the field and the Steelers would make a chip-shot field goal to win the game. And the city of Cincinnati is left wondering what it has to do to reverse the curse.
The NFL playoffs continue with the Divisional Round next week. Former Santa Margarita standout Carson Palmer will be in action as the Arizona Cardinals host the Packers. While La Habra grad Ronnie Hillman and his Denver Broncos take on the Steelers.
(all stats from nfl.com)