Across The Shield: Trey Sermon is Last Buckeye Standing As Bengals, 49ers Fall in Conference Championship Games

By Dan Hope on January 30, 2023 at 8:35 am
Trey Sermon
Mark J. Rebilas – USA TODAY Sports

There may not be any former Ohio State football players on the field in this year’s Super Bowl.

Between the two teams that will play for an NFL championship in two weeks, the only Buckeye on either team’s active roster is Trey Sermon, who has been inactive for both of the Philadelphia Eagles’ first two playoff games as their fourth-string running back.

Nevertheless, Sermon will have the chance to earn a Super Bowl ring in his first year with the Eagles and just his second NFL season when they play the Kansas City Chiefs on Feb. 12 in Glendale, Arizona (6:30 p.m., FOX).

Six other Buckeyes were on the losing end of conference championship games Sunday as the Cincinnati Bengals and San Francisco 49ers came up one game short of advancing to the Super Bowl. 

Hubbard makes another fumble recovery

For the second year in a row, an AFC Championship Game between the Bengals and the Chiefs came down to the wire. While the Chiefs led for the majority of the game, former Ohio State defensive end Sam Hubbard made a key play in the third quarter that helped keep the Bengals in it.

Two weeks after he made one of the plays of the year by scooping up a fumble and returning it 98 yards for a game-winning touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens, Hubbard came up with his second fumble recovery of the postseason when he dove on a giveaway by Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

Hubbard’s fumble recovery at the 45-yard line late in the third quarter set up a touchdown drive for the Bengals that tied the game at 20-20. The Chiefs would go on to win the game 23-20, however, after a late hit by Bengals defensive end Joseph Ossai set up a game-winning 45-yard field goal for Kansas City kicker Harrison Butker with just seconds remaining.

Hubbard finished his final game of the season with two tackles, also including a sack of Mahomes earlier in the third quarter. Former Ohio State safety Vonn Bell tied for the Bengals’ lead with seven tackles while former Buckeye cornerback Eli Apple recorded six tackles with a tackle for loss in the defeat.

Drue Chrisman averaged 49 yards per punt on his four punts against the Chiefs. A lack of hangtime on his final punt, however, led to a 29-yard punt return by Skyy Moore that set up the Chiefs’ game-winning field goal.

Isaiah Prince was also on the Bengals’ roster for Sunday’s game after being elevated from the practice squad for the second week in a row, but did not actually play any snaps.

Bosa makes two TFLs despite injury

Injuries were the story of the day for the San Francisco 49ers in their NFC Championship Game loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, and Nick Bosa wasn’t immune. Late in the first quarter, the former Ohio State defensive end needed medical attention on the sideline after he was knocked down by a pair of players scuffling on the sideline on a punt return.

Bosa appeared to suffer a lower-leg gash on that collision and had to leave the game briefly on the ensuing defensive series, but returned to the game and would remain in the rest of the way. While the cut left him with a bloody sock, it didn’t stop him from being disruptive, as the potential Defensive Player of the Year recorded four total tackles against the run including two tackles for loss – one of which nearly resulted in a safety when he blew up a zone read run by Jalen Hurts for a 3-yard loss.

Bosa said after the game that the injury didn’t affect him much, but felt it was fitting for the kind of day it was for the 49ers, who were left without a healthy quarterback after both Brock Purdy and Josh Johnson were injured.

Full playoff stats for every Buckeye who was on an active roster for conference championship weekend can be found in the table below compiled by Eleven Warriors’ Matt Gutridge.

Buckeyes Around the NFL: Conference Championship Weekend
ELI APPLE CB BENGALS 6 tackles, 1 TFL 18 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 PD
VONN BELL S BENGALS 7 tackles 17 tackles, 1 sack (3 yards)
NICK BOSA DE 49ERS 4 tackles, 2 TFL 11 tackles, 4 TFL, 1 FR, 1 QB hit
DRUE CHRISMAN P BENGALS 4 punts, 49.0 average, 0 inside 20 9 punts, 46.7 average, 3 inside 20
SAM HUBBARD DE BENGALS 2 tackles, 1 sack (2 yards), 1 FR 7 tackles, 1 sack (2 yards), 3 QB hits, 2 FR (98 yards), 1 TD
ISAIAH PRINCE OT BENGALS Did not play Did not play
TREY SERMON RB EAGLES Inactive Has not played
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