Hawks in the NFL | Wild Card Round

Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson hauled in 10 catches for 129 yards in Minnesota’s upset loss to the New York Giants on Sunday afternoon.


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Nov 6, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson (87) catches a pass against the Washington Commanders during the first quarter at FedExField.

Grant Hall, Sports Reporter

Football alumni represented the University of Iowa in every game of the NFL’s first round of the playoffs. Seventeen Hawkeyes played throughout Wild Card Weekend.

Former Hawkeyes suited up in winning efforts for the New York Giants, Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars, Dallas Cowboys, and San Francisco 49ers. Other past Iowa standouts finished their seasons with a first-round exit as members of the Baltimore Ravens, Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

In total, eight Hawkeyes on active rosters advanced to the NFL’s Divisional Round after all wild card games were final. 

Iowa tight ends a mixed bag

In a head-to-head matchup of former Iowa tight ends, George Kittle’s 49ers prevailed over Noah Fant and the Seahawks.

Kittle caught two passes for 37 yards in the Niners’ 41-23 victory at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. Kittle hauled in both targets he saw from rookie quarterback Brock Purdy, an Iowa State alum.

Fant secured one of his two targets for 11 yards. The 25-year-old Omaha native ended his fourth NFL season with 50 receptions for 486 yards. He tied a career-high with four touchdowns on the year.

T.J. Hockenson shined in the Vikings’ 31-24 loss to the Giants on Sunday afternoon. The Chariton, Iowa, product caught 10 passes for 129 yards, including a three-yard reception on fourth-and-8 late in the final quarter of the contest.

Hockenson finished his fourth NFL season with career-high stats across the board. He caught 86 passes for 914 yards and six touchdowns.

Hawkeye rookies contribute

Two former Iowa standouts split their playoff opportunities on Sunday.

Safety Dane Belton tallied two tackles in the Giants’ upset victory over the Vikings. The fourth-round pick — No. 114 overall — has 31 tackles and two interceptions thus far in his rookie season. Belton played in 15 regular season games. 

First-round selection Tyler Linderbaum wrapped up a stellar season in Baltimore, as he helped lead the Ravens to a near upset despite an injury to starting quarterback and former league MVP Lamar Jackson.

The center from Solon, Iowa, played every offensive snap for the Ravens this season.

Scherff celebrates with suds

After helping the Jaguars overcome a 27-0 deficit en route to a 31-30 comeback victory over the Chargers, All-Pro guard Brandon Scherff celebrated with a cold Busch Light at a Waffle House.


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The 31-year-old Denison, Iowa, local advanced beyond the first round of the playoffs for the first time in his career after he signed with Jacksonville in the offseason. Scherff’s Jaguars will face the Kansas City Chiefs Saturday, Jan. 21 at 3:30 p.m.

Wirfs caps off season with All-Pro honors

Standout right tackle Tristan Wirfs helped pilot the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to an NFC South title this season despite an 8-9 regular season record.

The 6-foot-5, 320-pound lineman from Mt. Vernon, Iowa, was rewarded for his stellar performance this year with his second career All-Pro nod. Wirfs earned second-team distinction after missing four games with an ankle injury earlier in the season.