The Divisional round of the NFL playoffs featured some clutch performances, head-scratching plays and a few of players with direct ties to the islands.
Unfortunately for most of Hawaii’s NFL products, they didn't advanced to the AFC/NFC conference championship games next weekend as the Tennessee Titans, Pittsburgh Steelers and New Orleans Saints were eliminated from Super Bowl contention.
In fact, only one player from Hawaii will be playing next weekend, and that is Philadelphia Eagles special teams ace, Kamu Grugier-Hill.
With just one player from Hawaii still playing in the New Year, it’s time to reflect on how some of Hawaii’s finest football exports performed during the Divisional round this past weekend.
Note: Only players who made an impact during their respective game will be featured.
Marcus Mariota, QB. Tennessee Titans
Mariota had an incredible performance during the Wild Card round against the Kansas City Chiefs and grabbed national headlines because of his heroics. But against the New England Patriots this past weekend, Mariota couldn’t replicate that same success.
The Titans fell to the Patriots 35-14 on the road in a game that started off well for the Titans, but ended up being a blowout. Despite losing by 21 points, Mariota was able to muster up 254 passing yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions.
The loss was just the seventh time this season that Mariota didn’t throw an interception in a game.
Tyson Alualu, DL, Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers defensive lineman and St. Louis standout lost to his former team this past weekend as Alualu and the rest of his team couldn’t stop the Jacksonville Jaguars from spoiling their homefield advantage.
Tyson Alualu spent 7 seasons with the Jaguars and never had a winning record. Finally gets to the playoffs after going to the Steelers in the offseason and gets eliminated by the Jaguars. Man.— Adam Stites (@AdamStites_) January 16, 2018
Alualu hasn’t been a major factor for the Steelers this season as he’s been used more as a rotation lineman, but was able to record one tackle against the Jaguars in a 45-42 loss.
Manti Te’o, LB, New Orleans Saints
Despite losing the Minnesota Vikings in heartbreaking fashion, Saints linebacker and former Punahou standout Manti Te’o had a great performance on Sunday.
Josh LeRibeus, Thomas Morstead, Austin Carr, John Fullington, Larry Warford, Manti Te'o, Gerald Hodges and Cameron Jordan deserve a lot of credit for being good sports, coming out for the final point after.— Doug Kyed (@DougKyed) January 15, 2018
The former Heisman Trophy finalists recorded 10 tackles and sacked Vikings quarterback Case Keenum once in what easily could’ve been a Saints victory if it wasn’t for the heroics of Keenum and wideout Stefon Diggs on a last-second play.
Max Unger, OL, New Orleans Saints
Another Saint who was sent home packing after the Divisional round was former Hawaii Preparatory School graduate Max Unger, who anchored the offensive line in New Orleans admirably despite the loss.
As a team, the Saints rushed for 80 yards and threw for 294 yards behind Unger and the offensive line.
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