UNC in the NFL: Recapping former Tar Heels on Wild Card Weekend

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 05: Julius Peppers
CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 05: Julius Peppers /

We recap how former UNC players did in the NFL’s opening Playoff weekend

The NFL’s Wild Card Weekend is officially over and we are down to just 8 teams left vying for a spot in the Super Bowl.

There were some former North Carolina Tar Heels who were in action this past weekend in all four of the games.

Some moved on, but others were sent home packing as their dreams of winning a Super Bowl were quickly shattered. It was an interesting weekend to say the least and we are ready for another round of the NFL Playoffs.

Let’s take a look to see how our former Tar Heels did over the weekend.

Titans complete comeback over Chiefs

There were just two former Tar Heels playing in the opening game of Wild Card Weekend and they were victorious.

Both Da’Norris Searcy and Sylvester Williams moved on to the next round as the Titans rallied from a 21-3 halftime deficit to upset the Chiefs on Sunday.

Searcy made 4 solo tackles and recorded one for a loss in the Titans dominant second half defensive effort. The safety also played on special teams, making a tackle on a return.

The defensive lineman Williams recorded two tackles, a sack and a tackle for loss.

It doesn’t get much easier for the Titans as they now face Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots next weekend.

Rams bounced out of playoffs

The Los Angeles Rams were one of the better stories in the NFC all season long with the emergence of quarterback Jared Goff and a solid defense.

But after winning the NFC West, the Rams were bounced out of the playoffs by the defending NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons.

The Falcons controlled the game from the start enroute to a 26-13 win. A touchdown pass from Matt Ryan to Julio Jones with 5:48 left in the game sealed it as the Rams turned it over on downs in the final minutes.

Former UNC standout Robert Quinn had a big regular season with 8.5 sacks. He added another sack, three total tackles and two tackles for a loss as the Rams came up short.

Offensive lineman Lucas Crowley was signed to Atlanta’s practice squad a week ago for some depth. He was not on the 53-man roster for the game.

Buffalo returns to the playoffs

With both Saturday games being exciting, the first game on Sunday was a defensive battle.

The Buffalo Bills made their return to the NFL Playoffs after a 17-year drought but their stay didn’t last long.

In a offensive struggle, the two teams were tied at three going into halftime. the Jaguars scored the only touchdown of the game when Blake Bortles found Ben Koyack on fourth down in the third quarter.

For the Bills, former UNC player Brandon Tate had five punt returns for a total of 11 yards. He also had a kickoff return for 10 yards.

Last stand for Peppers?

Sunday could have been the last time we see former UNC standout Julius Peppers playing in the NFL.

The 37-year-old Peppers and the Carolina Panthers fell short against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, eliminating them from the playoffs.

Carolina’s offense struggled in the red zone scoring just one touchdown and having to settle for field goals. Meanwhile, Drew Brees and the Saints’ offense clicked and earned the 31-26 win to move on and play the Minnesota Vikings.

The Panthers had a chance to win it at the end, driving into Saints’ territory before turning it over on downs with four seconds left.

Peppers entered the game with 11 sacks, tied for the most on the team. But on Sunday, he finished with just two total tackles including one for a loss.

The loss might be the end for Peppers and an impressive NFL career. The linebacker hasn’t committed to returning yet and wasn’t worried about it leading into the game.

It will certainly be something to pay attention to this offseason.

NFL Divisional round

With the Titans win on Saturday, Williams and Searcy will be joined by former UNC wide receiver Mack Hollins in the next round.

Hollins and the Philadelphia Eagles had a bye week and are preparing for the Atlanta Falcons next week.

Next: Is Larry Fedora on the hot seat?

They will host Atlanta on Saturday, looking to advance to the NFC Championship Game.