With former Illini punter Steve Weatherford (#9) looking on in the background, New York Jets' kicker Nick Folk (#2) celebrates his game-winning field goal against the Indianapolis Colts.

Pro-Style Pigskins: NFC/AFC Wildcard Edition of Fighting Illini in the NFL

Entering the start of the NFL playoffs last weekend, eight former Illini clung to Super Bowl dreams.

Now only four former Illini remain in the playoffs, all in the AFC.

Here’s a recap of how the former Illini fared in the first round of the playoffs.

Running Back Pierre Thomas and Linebacker Danny Clark

The Saints will not repeat as NFL champions after the 7-9 Seahawks played the game of their lives on Saturday.

One of many hobbled Saints who did not play, Thomas could only watch from the sidelines as New Orleans struggled to develop a ground game with Julius Jones, thus forcing Drew Brees to sling the ball 60 times.

Also out of the game for New Orleans was starting linebacker Danny Clark (hamstring injury), who had to be horrified as the Saints allowed Matt Hasselback to throw for four touchdowns.

Punter Steve Weatherford, Offensive Lineman Brandon Moore and Tight End Jeff Cumberland Versus Cornerback Kelvin Hayden

Just like the Saints, the Colts won’t be returning to the Super Bowl after Nick Folk drilled a winning field goal on the game’s final play.

While having a stellar game punting the ball for the Jets, averaging 50.4 yards on 5 punts (including a long of 65), former Illinois punter Steve Weatherford made his biggest impact on the game’s final play, successfully fielding the snap and placing and holding the ball on Folk’s decisive field goal.

As for Moore and the Jets’ offensive line, it did a great job of opening holes for New York running backs LaDainian Tomlinson, Shonn Greene and others, which carried the ball 38 times for 169 yards (a 4.4 average) and most importantly allowed the team to keep Peyton Manning off the field by controlling the time-of-possession game.

As expected, the rookie tight end Cumberland was inactive for the Jets.

For the Colts, former Illini cornerback Kelvin Hayden did not play as he was inactive with a neck injury.

Offensive Lineman Jon Asamoah

A backup lineman for the Chiefs, Asamoah saw his rookie season come to an end as the Ravens took care of Kansas City.

Heading into the divisional playoffs, four former Illini are left standing.

Rashard Mendenhall and the Steelers take on the Ravens on Saturday, and Weatherford, Moore and Cumberland battle the Patriots on Sunday afternoon.

Both games are on at 4:30 p.m. eastern time.


Until next week, which could be the last Pro-Style Pigskins of the season.

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Tags: Brandon Moore Danny Clark Illini Illinois Jeff Cumberland Jon Asamoah Kelvin Hayden New Orleans Saints NFL NFL Playoffs Nick Folk Pierre Thomas Seattle Seahawks Steve Weatherford

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