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Wyoming Pro Sports Report, Jan. 11 – Jan. 16: Allen leads big rout of Pats; Wilson helps Bengals win first playoff game in 31 years

Buffalo Bills quarterback and University of Wyoming alum Josh Allen. (Erik Drost, Flickr, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode)

FOOTBALL

NOTE: Only players currently on a NFL active roster and which played in last week’s NFL playoffs are listed.

Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills (UW)

Allen and the No. 3–seeded Bills didn’t just beat the New England Patriots in the AFC Wild Card round of the playoffs — they stomped them. Buffalo’s 47–17 rout of one of its AFC East rivals was the biggest playoff loss of storied Pats coach Bill Belichick’s career, with Allen putting up one of his finest performances as a Bill with 308 yards and five touchdowns passing to go with 66 yards on the ground. In fact, the former Cowboy unbelievably had more passing scores than incompletions (four), while Buffalo as a team became the first in NFL history to go an entire game without a punt, field goal kick or turnover. 

Only one other player — Drew Brees in Week 12 of the 2009 season — had previously thrown for five touchdowns and no interceptions in a single game against a Belichick-coached team. Brees’s New Orleans Saints went on to win the Super Bowl that year. Whether Allen can repeat the feat hinges on if Buffalo can beat the Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round at 4:30 p.m. Sunday in Kansas City. The Bills beat the Chiefs 38–20 in Week 5 at Arrowhead Stadium, but KC has gone 11–2 since then on its way to the AFC’s No. 2 seed.

Logan Wilson, LB, Cincinnati Bengals (UW/Natrona County HS)

Wilson was awesome in his playoff debut in the AFC Wild Card round against the Las Vegas Raiders, finishing with a game-high 12 tackles as the centerpiece of Cincinnati’s defense. He was immense in holding the Raiders offense to field goal after field goal, giving the Bengals’ emerging star quarterback, Joe Burrow, plenty of opportunities to build on a second-half Cincinnati lead. He and the Bengals defense held firm on Vegas’ final drive, which ended in a Germaine Pratt interception of Raiders quarterback Derek Carr on fourth down to seal a 26–19 win.

The victory was Cincinnati’s first in the playoffs since the 1990-91 season, ending a 31-year drought that was the longest in American professional sports. It gets no easier for Wilson and the No. 4-seeded Bengals as they must beat the top-seeded Tennessee Titans in the divisional round at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Nashville to stay alive in the postseason, with the Titans likely getting All-Pro running back Derrick Henry from a fractured foot that sidelined him for the past nine games. Cincinnati allowed 1,742 rushing yards in the regular season, good for fifth-best in the NFL.

Marcus Epps, S, Philadelphia Eagles (UW)

Not much went right for Epps and the Eagles in the NFC Wild Card round against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady sliced and diced the Philly secondary for 271 yards and two touchdowns passing en route to a 31-15 win for the defending Super Bowl champions. Epps finished with four total tackles in the loss.

The former Poke ends his third year in the league with a new season-high for total tackles (62) while adding his third career interception against the New York Jets in Week 13.

Mark Nzeocha, LB, San Francisco 49ers (UW)

Nzeocha was only featured on the Niners’ special teams unit (where he played 76% of snaps) against the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Wild Card round, doing his part in helping No. 6 seed San Francisco shock the third-seeded Cowboys 23–17 to advance to next week’s divisional round. As the lowest-ranked team to advance out of the Wild Card, the 49ers get the top-seeded Green Bay Packers at 6:15 p.m. Saturday in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

BASKETBALL

James Johnson, F, Brooklyn Nets (Cheyenne East HS)

The former T-Bird was limited to just over a combined 13 minutes against the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday and the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday, but sat out games against the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday due to a non-COVID-related illness.

Brooklyn is 27–16 and looks well-positioned to make the Eastern Conference playoffs — barring a substantial late-season collapse — as the Nets hover around the conference’s top four and only needing to finish eighth or higher to make the postseason. Johnson, meanwhile, is averaging 4.5 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game.

Larry Nance, Jr., F, Portland Trail Blazers (UW)

Nance has been inactive for the Blazers since January 5, first for a stint in the league’s health and safety protocols for COVID-19 and then for a bout with knee inflammation. The team announced that a MRI revealed no serious damage and he will continually be reevaluated.

The former Cowboy started 11 consecutive games for Portland before being sidelined and is currently averaging 6.9 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game.

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