Clemson Tigers in the NFL - Week 18
The regular season is in the books and the playoffs are now underway. While postseason hopes were dashed for some Tiger Pros last week, others will play on. Here is a recap of Week 18.
Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne, Jr., Jacksonville Jaguars (9-8)
In many ways, this season was a tale of two seasons for the Jaguars. The Jaguars looked like a sure-fire playoff team after opening the year with an 8-3 start. However, Jacksonville seemed to their edge and struggled to a 1-5 record over its last 6 games. Lawrence recently lamented that it was like they hadn’t practiced. As poor as they played down the stretch, Jacksonville was still only a win away from the playoffs with a win over Tennessee in the regular season finale. However, Derrick Henry and the Titans went out with a bang, putting the Jaguars’ postseason hopes on ice for this year.
Trevor Lawrence completed 29 of 43 passes for 280 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions in a 28-20 loss to Tennessee. He added 3 rushes for 10 yards but came up 1 yard short on a pivotal 4th and goal halfway through the 4th quarter that could’ve helped to tie the game with a converted 2-point attempt. Much like the season as a whole, the Jaguars had their opportunities but were unfortunately unable to finish strong.
Travis Etienne, Jr. had 16 rushes for 57 hard-earned yards and added 5 catches for 30 yards to end the season on a good note. Etienne has been a huge part of Jacksonville’s success this season and has established himself as one of the league’s most versatile, consistent performers.
Trenton Simpson, Baltimore Ravens (13-4)
With the #1 seed in the AFC locked up, the Ravens sat Lamar Jackson in Week 18. Baltimore came up short with a 17-10 loss to a Steelers team that needed a win to get in. Trenton Simpson had a great game in the losing effort logging 7 tackles (6 solo) including a sack and 2 TFLs. Simpson and the Ravens have earned the sole first round bye in the AFC and will host the lowest remaining seed after this weekend’s games in the second round next week.
DeAndre Hopkins and K’Von Wallace, Tennessee Titans (6-11)
Hopkins, Wallace and the Titans played the role of spoiler to perfection in their season and home finale against the Jaguars. Nuk caught 7 of 10 targets for a team high 46 yards and a touchdown in Tennessee’s 28-20 win. Next year will be big for Hopkins as he is set to become a free agent after the 2024-2025 season. It was great to see him finish well, which is hopefully a sign of bigger things to come.
K’Von Wallace had a solid day with 6 tackles (3 solo) and a quarterback hit. Wallace has been a solid addition since Tennessee picked him up from waivers and it looks like he’ll stay in the league for years to come.
Christian Wilkins, Miami Dolphins (11-6)
The Dolphins hosted the Bills last week with the AFC East division title and the #2 overall seed in the AFC on the line. Unfortunately for Christian Wilkins and company, they came up just short and lost to Buffalo 21-14. That loss proved critical as the Dolphins were forced to travel to Kansas City and suffered a first round playoff exit last night in subzero temperatures.
Wilkins had a very good game against Buffalo in a losing effort and did his part in affecting Josh Allen. Wilkins had 5 solo tackles including a sack, 3 quarterback hits, and had a forced fumble and recovery. It was a tough way to end a good year, but Wilkins and company should be back in the mix next year.
Ray-Ray McCloud, San Francisco 49ers (12-5)
Ray-Ray McCloud has dealt with injury this season, but he has been a consistent contributor on special teams and has contributed to the 49ers receiving game. Last week he had 3 catches for 22 yards and 2 punt returns for 17 yards in a 21-20 loss to the Rams. McCloud has elite athleticism which has kept him in the league for so long. Hopefully he will make some noise in the playoffs. If the 49ers are able to lift the Lombardi trophy, it will be nice to see Ray-Ray get a ring.
Bradley Pinion, Atlanta Falcons (7-10)
After punting for Clemson, Pinion made news when he opted to leave after his junior season for the NFL, a rare move for a special teams player, but one that has paid off. Last week Pinion showed off his huge leg with 5 punts for 254 yards (an average of 50.8 yards/punt) with a long of 66 yards and a punt downed inside the 20 against the against the Saints. Pinion was great at Clemson, and it has been great to see him perform well at the next level.
Davis Allen, Los Angeles Rams (10-7)
Davis Allen is continuing to come into his own as he makes the most of his recent opportunities. He caught 4 catches for 25 yards last week in the Rams’ 21-20 win over the 49ers. This week he will get his first taste of playoff action against the Lions in Detroit this evening. Best of luck for a big postseason debut for this Tiger Pro.
Here is a look at the other Tiger Pros’ performances from Week 18:
Jayron Kearse, Dallas Cowboys: 3 tackles (2 solo) including 1 TFL in 38-10 win over the Commanders
Baylon Spector, Buffalo Bills: 4 tackles (1 solo) in 21-14 win over the Dolphins
A.J. Terrell, Atlanta Falcons: 2 solo tackles and 1 pass defended in 48-17 loss to the Saints
Isaiah Simmons, New York Giants: 3 tackles (1 solo) in 27-10 win over the Eagles
Albert Huggins, Atlanta Falcons: 2 tackles in 48-17 loss to the Saints
Dexter Lawrence, II, New York Giants: 1 tackle and 1 QB hit in 27-10 win over the Eagles
Andrew Booth, Jr., Minnesota Vikings: 1 solo tackle in 30-20 loss to the Lions
K.J. Henry, Washington Commanders: 1 solo tackle in 38-10 loss to the Cowboys