When the Broncos and Seahawks meet up on February 2 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, three former players from the University of Kentucky will be playing for a ring.
Denver’s 26-16 win on Sunday over Tom Brady and the New England Patriots secured a Super Bowl berth for ex-Cats Wesley Woodyard, Danny Trevathan and Jacob Tamme.
A defense led in tackles all season by Trevathan, and leadership by Woodyard, the Broncos were faced with a tough task on Sunday after eliminating the San Diego Chargers 24-17 the week before.
Bill Belichick and the Brady Bunch were rolling into Mile High Stadium seeking to send their quarterback to be the first in league history to play in six Super Bowls, but the former Kentucky players led a defensive frontier that bent and didn’t break until the Patriots finally scored their first touchdown with 9:26 left to play in the fourth quarter.
Trying to battle back from 23-10 Denver lead at that point, the Patriots would only score once more before the final seconds ran off the clock. Sticking to the script that was written all year, Trevathan continued to lead the way for the Broncos defenders as the former Kentucky standout recorded eight solo tackles in the win over the Patriots.
Through Denver’s two playoff wins, Trevathan has combined for 11 assisted tackles and 12 solo, continuing to add to his regular season and league’s 11th best total of 129. Although this was his first year starting week in and week out, and only second in the league, Trevathan’s team leading tackles and interceptions, three, make a strong argument that he could return as one of next year’s premiere linebackers.
Seen rallying his teammates while Peyton was busy leading his electric offense down the field, Wesley Woodyard’s performance in the game solidified his role on Denver’s team as not only a defensive force, but a motivator of men. Woodyard’s two tackles in the AFC Championship raised his 2013-2014 campaign to 86 tackles on the year, adding an interception and two forced fumbles along the way.
We’ve heard, read and talked about Trevathan and Woodyard all year long, but Sunday, there was another ex-Cat that reminded viewers of the NFL that UK doesn’t always send players to the national football league, but when they do, they make big plays at big times.
Staged at the goal line midway through the second quarter, as Peyton dropped three steps and scanned his progressions, he found a sitting Jacob Tamme that ushered in the first touchdown of the game.
Tamme, who throughout the season played a lesser role in Denver’s offense behind Julius Thomas, amassed 154 yards and a touchdown on 20 receptions. Coincidentally, his only touchdown of the year was scored during the Patriots and Broncos week 12 meeting when the Broncos fell in Foxboro, 34-31.
As February 2 draws closer and the anticipation builds up, Trevathan says it’s just another day on the job.
"We aren't going to do anything different,” said Trevathan to Patriots.com. We're just preparing and staying within our realm. Just getting excited and getting motivated to go out here and try to put together a good 60 minutes.
"I'm just ready to go. It's another game, it's another opportunity for me to play the game that I love and be out here with my dogs."
Ben Tompkins is an intern and contributing writer for WLXG ESPN Sports Radio 1300. Follow him on Twitter @bennytomp18, on Instagram @bennythekid01, and like his page on Facebook, Benny & The Jets.
Across the league and shining once again in the national Sunday night spotlight, former University of Kentucky football players were widely productive, but many fell short of victory in week 12 of the NFL.
While the headlines before the game between the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots were all about Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, the headlines during the game couldn’t stop giving praise to Wesley Woodyard, Danny Trevathan and Jacob Tamme, who catapulted the Broncos to an early lead. Ultimately, Brady ousted the Broncos in overtime for the win, 34-31.
On New England’s opening drive, defensive captain Wesley Woodyard punched the ball from Stevan Ridley’s arms sending it bouncing into the hands of fellow linebacker Von Miller, who would take the fumble all the way in the for the quick Denver score. Woodyard recorded 15 tackles in the loss and also assisted on pass coverage with two deflections.
Linebacker Danny Trevathan continued to bolster his storied year as a first year starter, combining for 13 tackles, forcing a fumble and recovering a fumble in Sunday’s loss. In only his second year in the league, Trevathan is leading the Broncos defense with 94 tackles, a sack and a half, three interceptions, four forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
The third and sometimes forgotten UK product in Denver, tight end Jacob Tamme had a season-high night as the former Wildcat hauled in five receptions on five targets for 47 yards and a touchdown, his first of the year. Tamme has been buried on the depth chart all season, but when Julius Thomas was ruled out before game time, Tamme stepped up and into a familiar role that Peyton Manning knew how to utilize effectively.
Of his five receptions, three were made on crucial third downs that extended the drive and allowed the Broncos to continue marching downfield. Cameron Loope, an avid UK football fan and senior studying exercise physiology, was excited to see Tamme have a breakout performance.
“I loved Jacob Tamme when he was at UK,” Loope said. “When Dallas Clark went down in Indy, Tamme stepped up and him and Peyton Manning had some nice chemistry. Tamme hasn’t played much this year in Denver, but I thought it was awesome to watch him fill that role once again when Thomas couldn’t go. Manning likes connecting with Tamme and as he proved last night, if the ball is coming his way, he’s coming down with it.”
The Buffalo Bills and wide receiver Steve Johnson rested on their bye week. Johnson, who sat out of the Bills’ last game with the Jets due to a nagging groin injury, said that he’d “definitely” be ready to play after having the extra week of rest and recovery. Johnson is the sole leader of receptions, yards and touchdowns amongst other Bills receivers with 41 catches for 471 yards and three touchdowns.
Around the rest of the league, Corey Peters made two tackles in the Atlanta Falcons loss to the New Orleans Saints, 17-13. In Arizona, Alfonso Smith made a tackle on special teams and also recorded a six-yard reception as the Cardinals drummed the Indianapolis Colts, 40-11.
In a unique ending that is ordinarily unseen in professional football, Tim Masthay and the Green Bay Packers’ game with the Minnesota Vikings ended in a tie, 26-26. And wrapping up UK in the NFL play, fellow NFC North members the Detroit Lions and rookie guard Larry Warford dropped a close one the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 24-21.
Ben Tompkins is an intern and contributing writer for WLXG ESPN Sports Radio 1300. Follow him on Twitter @bennytomp18 and like his page on Facebook, Benny & The Jets.