Courtesy of Tribune News Service

Former Gamecocks fly in NFL playoffs

Four former South Carolina football players got their chance to play in the NFL Divisional Round of this year’s playoffs. This season is all of their first NFL postseason appearances, and a few of them helped propel their teams to impressive wins. 

Alshon Jeffery, wide receiver, Philadelphia Eagles 

Jeffery was a pivotal part in the Eagles winning their game against the Atlanta Falcons on Saturday. While he didn’t score any touchdowns, he made the big plays to help drive Philadelphia down the field that eventually led them to score. 

Jeffery led the Eagles with 61 yards on four catches, with two being huge plays for the team. Although Jeffery struggled for most of the first half, he made up for it at the end, making a huge 15-yard reception right at the edge of the sidelines, then stepped out of bounds to stop the clock with just a second remaining in the half. The Eagles were able to kick a field goal to bring them within one. 

Later in the game, it was Jeffery once again who was able to convert on third and eight, allowing the offense to continue down the field, get a field goal, and take a lead that they were able to hold on to for the remainder of the game. 

Now that Jeffery has found his chemistry with quarterback Nick Foles, they seem to be in a good rhythm going into their Championship game against the Minnesota Vikings. 

Stephon Gilmore, cornerback, New England Patriots

With the Patriots securing a first-round bye, Saturday was Gilmore’s first NFL playoff action, and he succeeded. Gilmore had one tackle, a half tackle for a loss and did a great job stopping the Tennessee Titans. He broke up both passes that came his way to help the Patriots defeat the Titans 35-14.

A.J. Cann, offensive guard, Jacksonville Jaguars

South Carolina tailback Kenny Miles celebrates with guard A.J. Cann (50) in the endzone after scoring a touchdown against Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl game at the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida, Monday, January 2, 2012. South Carolina defeated Nebraska, 30-13. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/MCT)

Cann started at right guard for the Jaguars for his second straight playoff game. He didn’t have the biggest night, but he did what he needed to do to help quarterback Blake Bortles and the rest of his team. The Jaguars were able to go into Pittsburgh and upset the Steelers in the thrilling 45-42 win. 

The Jaguars will now advance to the AFC Championship to take on the No. 1 seed Patriots. 

Ryan Succop, kicker, Tennessee Titans

Succop’s season ended Saturday night as the Patriots defeated the Titans. Succop did not attempt any field goals, but was 2-for-2 in his PAT attempts. 

Succop had a solid season for the Titans, making 36 of his 43 field goal attempts and 34 of his 36 PATs. 

Tennessee Titans kicker Ryan Succop connects on a fire goal in the fourth quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. (John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/TNS)

The Conference Championships are Sunday, Jan. 21, and will see Gilmore and Cann facing each other in the AFC Championship game. 

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