The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Hawks in the NFL | One Hawkeye to play in Super Bowl

Only one Hawkeye will be traveling to Las Vegas for the Super Bowl.
Jan+28%2C+2024%3B+Santa+Clara%2C+California%2C+USA%3B+San+Francisco+49ers+tight+end+George+Kittle+%2885%29+reacts+after+a+first+down+against+the+Detroit+Lions+during+the+second+half+of+the+NFC+Championship+football+game+at+Levis+Stadium.+Mandatory+Credit%3A+Kyle+Terada-USA+TODAY+Sports
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 28, 2024; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (85) reacts after a first down against the Detroit Lions during the second half of the NFC Championship football game at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Five former members of the Iowa football team came into the conference championship weekend for the NFL, and only one will be advancing to the Super Bowl.

Though wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette won a ring as a part of the practice squad, no Iowa alumni played in last year’s Super Bowl, in which the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Philadelphia Eagles, 38-35.

Super Bowl LVIII will feature the Kansas City Chiefs once again, this time taking on George Kittle and the San Francisco 49ers for the second time in four years. The Chiefs defeated the 49ers, 31-20, in Super Bowl LIV in Miami, Florida.

Here is how former Hawkeyes performed this past weekend.

Showdown in Baltimore

Baltimore Ravens center Tyler Linderbaum and the rest of the offensive line had one of their poorer performances of the season in a crucial 17-10 loss to the Chiefs.

The offensive line had issues adjusting to the pressure sent by Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, and Kansas City’s defense sacked quarterback Lamar Jackson four times and hit him thrice more.

Linderbaum, who is considered one of the best run blockers on Baltimore’s offensive line, struggled to get a push on All-Pro defensive tackle Chris Jones, and the Ravens were only able to rush for 81 yards.

Linderbaum, who started at center for Iowa from 2019 to 2021, was named to his first Pro Bowl in 2023 despite missing two games this season with an ankle injury. Linderbaum was selected 25th overall in the 2022 NFL Draft and started all 17 regular season games and one playoff game in his rookie year.

Teammate Geno Stone recorded one tackle as a part of the Ravens secondary during the game. Stone was controversially left off of the 2023 Pro Bowl roster despite leading all safeties in interceptions with seven and having the lowest passer rating allowed in the AFC with 48.3.

“The lights were brighter than expected”

The Detroit Lions’ historic run ended Sunday evening as they fell to the San Francisco 49ers, 34-31, and it also ended the rookie seasons of a couple of former Hawkeyes.

Even though Detroit started off hot, obtaining a 17-point lead going into halftime, the Dan Campbell-led Lions fell victim to poor game management and dropped balls from wide receiver Josh Reynolds — twice — and defensive back Kindle Vildor on what would have been an interception.

Lions tight end and former Hawk Sam LaPorta finished the game with nine receptions on 13 targets for 97 yards. LaPorta was Detroit’s leading receiver for the evening ahead of Lions All-Pro wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, who was top five in the NFL this season in touchdowns, yards, and receptions.

Like St. Brown, LaPorta was selected to the league’s All-Pro team, receiving second-team honors after finishing his first season with 107 catches, 1,065 yards, and 11 touchdowns.

Linebacker Jack Campbell finished second in total tackles during the game for the Lions with seven, four of which were solo. Campbell, a native of Cedar Falls, Iowa, was named to the 2023 Pro Football Writers of America NFL All-Rookie Team after finishing the season with 110 tackles, two sacks, and one pass deflection.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Cooper Worth, Pregame reporter
(he/him/his)
Cooper Worth is a Pregame Reporter for The Daily Iowan. He is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and mass communication. He is also earning a minor in communication studies and an entrepreneurial management certificate. This is his third year at the DI, previously serving as a News Editor and as a News Reporter covering local government in Johnson County for the DI. Cooper interned for the Telegraph Herald in Dubuque, Iowa during the summer of 2023 as a general news reporter.