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UNC football: Tar Heels in the NFL Playoffs

Recapping the Wild Card weekend and looking ahead to the Divisional Round

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

North Carolina football was well-represented in the NFL’s Wild Card weekend. Five out of six total Tar Heels took the field last week. Sadly, three of the five suffered losses and will see their season come to a close. Let’s recap their final games this season and look at the Tar Heel’s still standing.

Eliminated Tar Heels

Buffalo Bills - WR Brandon Tate

The Bills’ nine-win season was enough to get them into the playoffs for the first time since the 1999-2000 team. However, Tate’s Bills suffered an agonizing 10-3 loss at the hands of Blake Bortles and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Tate didn’t see a ton of action, except on Special Teams. He fielded one kickoff and returned it for just ten yards. Tate also caught five punts returning them for a total of 21 yards.

NFL: AFC Wild Card-Buffalo Bills at Jacksonville Jaguars Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Rams - LB Robert Quinn

The Rams entered the playoffs as a team that could make some noise and possibly make a run at the NFC Championship. They would have to get by the Atlanta Falcons with Matt Ryan and Julio Jones, first. That didn’t happen. Early turnovers put the Rams in a hole they couldn’t recover from. Couple that with a near-100 yard day from Julio Jones and the recipe for disaster is there. Quinn saw plenty of work on the defensive side of the ball. He notched three total tackles, two of them for loss and a sack. He also got to quarterback Matt Ryan on another rush, but couldn’t bring him down.

NFL: NFC Wild Card-Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Rams Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina Panthers - DE Julius Peppers

As a Panther’s homer, this one hurts the most. I really wanted that storybook finish for his career. Being drafted by the hometown team, becoming one of the most dominated defensive linemen in the history of the game, then moving away for a few years before finally coming “home” to finish out. With the changes going on in the front office and coaching staff, no one is certain is Peppers will be back next season. In what could be Peppers’ final game in a Panther’s uniform, he tallied two tackles and added another tackle behind the line. The sure-to-be-Hall-of-Famer finished this season with 11 sacks. Here’s to hoping he sticks around for his 17th season.

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Tar Heels still playing

Tennessee Titans - S Da’Norris Searcy and NT Sylvester Williams

The Tennessee Titans had a wild game against the Kansas City Chiefs. After falling into an early 21-3 hole, the Titans tightened down their defense and quaterback Marcus Mariota lead the attack that score 19-unanswered points to take the 22-21 victory. Searcy finished the game with four totals tackles while Williams notched another two. The Titans better hope they haven't used all of their playoff magic as they face Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the Divisional Round.

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
NFL: Tennessee Titans at San Francisco 49ers Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Eagles - WR Mack Hollins

As the NFC’s 1-seed, the Eagles did not play last week. I don’t need to re-hash the same numbers that Akil went through. The Eagles, a Super Bowl favorite before the injury to Carson Wentz, face the surging Atlanta Falcons this week. Don’t expect too many targets for Hollins as he hasn’t been used much to this point.

NFL: Chicago Bears at Philadelphia Eagles James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

If you’re like me and your NFL team is now sitting at home, tune in and cheer on our remaining Tar Heels!