Bradley Pinion’s quest to become the first former Clemson player in 23 years to help his team win back-to-back Super Bowls continues on Sunday when he and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the Los Angeles Rams in the divisional round of the NFL Playoffs.
Pinion, who played at Clemson from 2012-’14, will try to keep doing his part to make that happen. In last week’s win over the Eagles, in the NFC Wildcard Round, he averaged 48.7 yards on seven punts, including a long of 61 yards. He also placed three punts down inside the 20-yard line.
Clemson has not had a former player be a part of back-to-back Super Bowl Champions since defensive tackle Trevor Pryce was a part of the Denver Broncos’ back-to-back Super Bowl titles in 1997 and 1998. Besides, Pryce, former Tigers Bennie Cunningham (1978 and 1979) and Terrence Flagler (1988 and 1989) helped their teams win back-to-back Super Bowls.
Cunningham was the first former Clemson player to accomplish such a feat. The tight end helped the Pittsburgh Steelers do it with wins in Super Bowl XIII and Super Bowl XIV.
Flagler was a running back and kickoff return specialist for the San Francisco 49ers victories in Super Bowl XXIII and Super Bowl XXIV.
When: Sunday at 3 p.m. (NBC)
How they got here
The fourth-seeded Rams (12-5): Matthew Stafford, who for years suffered as the quarterback of the Detroit Lions, won his first playoff game last Monday night after completing 13-of-17 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns in a 34-11 win over the Arizona Cardinals at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles.
Stafford posted a 154.5 passer rating, the highest rating by a quarterback in a playoff game in Rams history, edging out Hall of Famers Norm Van Brocklin (149.3) and Kurt Warner (143.0), per NFL Research.
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Prior to last Monday, Stafford lost all three of his playoff games with the Lions.
Los Angeles also rushed for 140 yards in the victory, while totaling 375 yards overall. The defense held the Cardinals in check all night, limiting them to 183 yards of total offense. Quarterback Kyler Murray completed just 19-of-34 passes for 137 yards. He was intercepted two times, as well as sacked twice.
The Rams held Arizona to just 61 yards on the ground.
The second-seeded Buccaneers (13-4): Tom Brady continues to win playoff games. That is what the future Hall of Famer does best.
This time, Brady raced his Buccaneers, the defending Super Bowl Champs, to a 31-0 lead before the Philadelphia Eagles made things a little more respectable in the final 31-15 score.
Brady completed 29-of-37 passes for 271 yards and two touchdowns, while wide receiver Mike Evans caught nine of those passes for 117 yards and a touchdown. Evans’ touchdown was a 36-yard pass from Brady, while the three-time league MVP also threw a 2-yard score to tight end Rob Gronkowski.
The Bucs’ defense intercepted the Eagles’ Jalen Hurts twice, as he completed just 23-of-43 passes in his playoff debut. He was also sacked twice in the loss.
Former Clemson players
Tremayne Anchrum: The former Clemson offensive lineman has not played in any games for the Rams this season after playing in 11 games for Los Angeles last season, with no starts. Anchrum was picked in the seventh round (250 overall) by the Rams in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Bradley Pinion: After spending his first four years in the NFL with the 49ers, Pinion has spent the past three with Tampa Bay. The former Clemson punter is averaging 42.5 yards per punt this year and his touchback rate on kickoffs is currently at 79.8 percent. Pinion was a part of the Bucs’ Super Bowl LV win last year over the Kansas City Chiefs.
In last week’s win over the Eagles, in the NFC Wildcard Round, he averaged 48.7 yards on seven punts, including a long of 61 yards. He also placed three punts down inside the 20-yard line.
--Brad Senkiw contributed to this story