Hawks in the NFL | Divisional Round

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle hauled in five catches for 95 yards, including a highlight-reel 31-yard bobbling snag, in San Francisco’s victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday afternoon.


Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 22, 2023; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (85) celebrates after a play during the fourth quarter of a NFC divisional round game against the Dallas Cowboys at Levi’s Stadium.

Grant Hall, Sports Reporter

The NFL’s divisional round is over, and just one former Iowa Hawkeye still has a shot to win it all.

Losses by the New York Giants, Buffalo Bills, Dallas Cowboys, and Jacksonville Jaguars over the course of the divisional round eliminated the other six former Hawkeyes who advanced beyond Wild Card Weekend from Super Bowl contention.

The Jaguars’ 27-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs sent home former All-Pro guard Brandon Scherff and backup quarterback C.J. Beathard.

Scherff signed a three-year, $49.5 million contract in the offseason after seven seasons with the Washington Commanders. He helped protect second-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence this season as the Jags improved from 3-14 and recipients of the No. 1 overall pick last year to 9-8 and the AFC South champions.

The Bengals routed Buffalo in a 27-10 victory, a repeat of the Monday Night Football game that was postponed following the collapse of Pitt grad and Bills safety Damar Hamlin just 20 days prior. Former Hawkeyes Ike Boettger and A.J. Epenesa saw their championship run come to an end in the snow on Sunday.

Epenesa, a 2020 second-round pick, recorded a single tackle in the defeat. The 6-foot-6, 260-pound edge rusher tallied 6.5 sacks and two forced fumbles in his third NFL season.

Dane Belton’s promising rookie campaign ends

 The New York Giants fell in blowout fashion to the NFC’s No. 1 seeded, and East champion Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday evening, 38-7.

Rookie safety Dane Belton, who spent three seasons at Iowa, recorded no stats in the defeat. However, the young defensive back capped off an impressive first year in the league after the Giants earned their first playoff win last week since their 2011 Super Bowl victory.

Belton notched 31 solo tackles, three passes defended, and two interceptions in a limited role behind a plethora of veteran defensive backs.

Kittle is lone advancing Hawkeye alum

 San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle is Iowa’s sole representative remaining in the NFL playoffs.

Kittle hauled in five catches for 95 yards, including a highlight bobbling catch for 31 yards between two defenders, as the Niners sent the Dallas Cowboys home after a 19-12 contest.

After the game, Kittle told reporters he was putting on a show with his juggling effort.

Since Iowa State alum Brock Purdy took over the starting quarterback role for San Francisco in Week 14 of the regular season, Kittle has pulled in 29 receptions for 425 yards and seven touchdowns.

Kittle and the 49ers will travel to Philadelphia for a showdown with the Eagles next week in the NFC Championship with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.

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