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A look back at the most memorable local performances in NFL championship games

By Jeremiah Jensen, KSL Sports  |  Posted Jan 21st, 2018 @ 11:20pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — Stop reading if you want to avoid spoilers on the internet, and you haven’t watched the AFC or NFC championship games from Sunday afternoon.

OK, ready?

The Patriots and Eagles will debut in Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis, meaning former BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy and Utah cornerback Eric Rowe will make a return trip to the Big Game with New England.

But they aren’t the first locals whose NFL seasons brought them to the Super Bowl.

Here are some of the more notable NFL championship game appearances from former college and high school football players from Utah.

Chad Lewis, Philadelphia, 2005 NFC championship

The former BYU tight end caught two touchdown passes in the Eagles’ 27-10 victory over Atlanta Jan. 23, 2005, to advance to the Super Bowl.

He also broke his foot with the game-sealing touchdown catch, a diagnosis that was confirmed a few days later and kept him out of the Super Bowl.

Steve Young, San Francisco, 1995 NFC championship

The former BYU star quarterback threw for two touchdowns and ran for another in the 49ers’ 38-28 win over the Dallas Cowboys, a victory that helped cement an NFL rivalry in the third-straight NFC championship matchup between the two squads.

San Francisco jumped out to a 21-0 lead, but Cowboys QB Troy Aikman threw for 380 yards and two touchdowns before the Dallas offense turned the ball over five times in the loss that paved the way to San Francisco’s Super Bowl XXIX title.

Steve Smith, Carolina, 2006 NFC championship

The former Utah receiver was best known for torching Chicago with 218 yards and two touchdowns on 12 catches in the divisional round for the Panthers.

But Smith added an electric 59-yard punt return Jan. 22, 2006, in a 34-14 loss to Seattle in the NFC championship.

Dennis Pitta, Baltimore, 2013 NFC championship

The former BYU tight end had a memorable 2012 season, posting 669 yards and a career-high seven touchdowns with the Ravens.

The self-described "hip specialist" posted 55 yards and a touchdown on five catches as Baltimore took down the Patriots 29-13 Jan. 20, 2013.

Pitta went on to score a touchdown in the Ravens’ 34-31 win over San Francisco in Super Bowl XLVII.

Austin Collie, Indianapolis, 2010 NFC championship

Arguably the top receiver in BYU history, Collie had a rookie season to remember while catching passes from quarterback Peyton Manning.

Collie caught four passes for 52 yards in the NFC championship game, including a 10-yard touchdown over the middle as part of a 14-0 second quarter en route to a 20-3 win over the Ravens Jan. 17, 2010, in Indianapolis.

Jason Buck, Cincinnati, 1989 NFC championship

The former BYU defensive lineman posted a career-high six sacks during the 1988 season, including a sack against Buffalo quarterback Jim Kelly in the Bengals’ 21-10 win Jan. 8, 1989, in the NFC championship game.

Jim McMahon, Chicago, 1986 AFC championship

Before he became the face of the “Super Bowl shuffle” and the ’85 Bears, the former BYU signal caller threw for 164 yards and a touchdown and ran for 28 yards and another score in Chicago’s 24-0 shutout of the Los Angeles Rams Jan. 12, 1986.

Jamal Anderson, Atlanta, 1999 AFC championship

"The Dirty Bird" was a workhorse, piling up 67 yards on 23 carries and adding 33 yards and a touchdown on six catches in the Falcons’ 30-27 win over the Vikings Jan. 17, 1999, in the AFC championship.

Doug Jolley, Buffalo, 2003 AFC championship

The former BYU tight end had a career-high 409 yards and two touchdowns in 2002, but he needed only a 1-yard TD reception from Rich Gannon to help the Raiders to a 41-24 win over Tennessee Jan. 19, 2003, in the AFC championship.

Gannon threw for 286 yards and three touchdowns in the win.

Jim Turner, New York Jets, 1968 AFL championship

Long before the modern era, former Utah State kicker Jim Turner was a standout on the AFL’s biggest stage.

A former quarterback with the Aggies, Turner booted the Jets past the Oakland Raiders and into a Super Bowl date against the Colts — which you might remember for a certain prediction by a certain “Broadway” quarterback, Joe Namath.

Jeremiah Jensen, KSL Sports
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