Following the finale of Super Wild Card weekend in the NFL, only one former NC State player remains in the hunt for the Lombardi trophy. The past couple of days were certainly not kind to previous Wolfpack standouts, with nearly all former wearers of the red-and-white losing their matchups.
Philip Rivers, quarterback, Indianapolis Colts
In what could realistically be the final game of his career, Philip Rivers and the Colts fell to the Bills 24-27. It was a valiant effort from Rivers, who managed to throw for over 300 yards for only the fourth time this season. Unfortunately for him and the Colts, it wouldn’t be enough to topple the second-seeded Josh Allen-led Buffalo Bills.
With a final stat line of 309 yards on 27 completions with a completion rate of 58.7% and two touchdowns, Rivers was never going down without a fight. Many would not have expected this matchup to come down to the wire in the way that it did, but Rivers and other former Pack players Nyheim Hines and Jacoby Brissett had other ideas.
While it certainly is not the storybook ending he would have hoped for, Rivers’ career could be coming to a close. The NC State Athletic hall-of-famer has certainly made a case for a spot in Canton, Ohio in a few years. If he were to hang up the cleats for good, Rivers would finish fifth all time in passing yards with 63,440, fifth all time in passes completed with 5,277 and fifth all time in passing touchdowns with 421.
Nyheim Hines, running back, Indianapolis Colts
Another victim of the Buffalo Bills road through the playoffs was Nyheim Hines. Serving as a relief for starting back Jonathan Taylor when needed, Hines managed to post 75 yards on only six carries. This has been the story of his season, making the most out of what is given. With only two games over 10 rushing attempts on the season, Hines managed to finish the regular season with 380 yards and 4.3 yards per carry.
Although he did not see many looks from Rivers in the loss to the Bills, Hines has found the majority of his success in the passing game this season. Finishing the year with 63 catches for 482 yards, Hines finished third in the NFL amongst running backs for total receiving yards. His four receiving touchdowns on the season also placed him tied for third amongst running backs.
If this were to be Rivers’ last game in the NFL, or at least for the Indianapolis Colts, Hines could certainly see a drop off in production next season. It is no secret that Rivers has been fond of the check down for most of his career, notably with guys such as Austin Ekler and Melvin Gordon. With the possibility of a new quarterback taking hold of the Colts offense, it will have to be seen how Hines can continue to breakout in the NFL. This season, however, was a great start.
Jacoby Brissett, quarterback, Indianapolis Colts
The former Indianapolis starting quarterback turned backup to a fellow Wolfpack alumni was not heavily involved this past weekend for the Colts. His only touch of the game came on a rushing attempt which went for 0 yards. If Rivers decides it's time to call it quits, Brissett will most likely look to fight for the starting position in offseason training camp.
Russell Wilson, quarterback, Seattle Seahawks
Suffering a first-round playoff exit for only the second time in his career and the first time since the 2018 season, Russell Wilson and the Seahawks had a tough time over the weekend. Despite having a very consistent career out of Wilson to this point, he was far from it in the 30-20 loss against the sixth-seeded LA Rams.
Completing only 11 of his 27 pass attempts for 174 yards, tossing two touchdowns and throwing an interception, Wilson did not look like he did in the earlier half of the season. For a quarterback who was certainly an MVP candidate through the first half of the season, Wilson was far from MVP caliber in this one, posting a final QBR of 17.6, his lowest of the season by a good margin.
The poor stat line from Wilson should not fall entirely on his shoulders, however, as the Rams rank No. 1 in the NFL for team defense. While it was probably not the matchup the Seahawks were hoping for, they were expected to come out of this game with a win and fell short. Seattle will look to reload its defense this offseason in an attempt to return right back to its former glory.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, wide receiver, Green Bay Packers
The only former Wolfpack player remaining in the hunt for a Lombardi trophy is Green Bay wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling. While he does not sit at the top of its receiving totem pole, MVS has proved to be a valuable asset to this Packers offense over the course of the season. In playoff games where teams will likely try to double team Davante Adams, MVS could see plenty of opportunity to get involved.
The Packers face off against the LA Rams, who are coming off a game where they managed to lock down Wilson and the Seahawks offense. The Packers will be coming off a first-round bye after finishing the season as the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Aaron Rodgers and the well-rested Green Bay offense will look to move on Saturday, Jan. 16 at 4:35 p.m. on Fox.