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Oklahoma Sooners Football: Sooners in the NFL – Playoff Preview and Top Plays of the Season

The NFL Playoffs loom for a few Sooners this weekend including Shep, Rip and the Dolphins’ trio. Plus, a look back through the season’s top plays.

Green Bay Packers v Detroit Lions Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Before we get to the playoffs and top plays, let’s run through a quick recap of Week 17. Sam Bradford capped a record-setting season for completion percentage as the Vikings beat the Bears to finish 8-8. Sammy B, who didn’t even play in the fourth quarter, went 25-of-33 for 250 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception, and added one carry for 24 yards (!) in the win. Vikings coach Mike Zimmer this week also stated that Bradford, who in 2016 threw for a career-high 3,877 passing yards, had “earned the right to be the starting quarterback” after his best pro season despite the revolving door of injuries all year in Minnesota. It took an excruciatingly messy path to get here, but the former Heisman winner from Oklahoma seems to be at home in Minny. SKOL!

Demontre Hurst made 3 tackles in the loss for the Bears.

DeMarco Murray played his worst game of a bounce-back Pro-Bowl season with 11 rushes for 21 yards in the Titans home win against Houston. Murray was a big part of the emergence of Tennessee, as he and quarterback Marcus Mariota look to make a run at the playoffs that they just narrowly missed this season. An exciting team for an exciting player, it’d be great to see DeMarco ride out a healthy career in Nashville with a couple more Pro Bowls and a playoff appearance or two.

Stache bro Landry Jones got the start in Week 17 and tossed the game-winning touchdown pass to grab the Steelers an overtime win against the Browns. Landry went 24-of-37 for 277 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 pick in his second start of the season. Here’s the dime drop from LJ:

Gerald McCoy started and racked up 6 tackles in the Bucs’ final game of the season. Fun GMC enjoyed another Pro-Bowl season and should be in great shape heading into a healthy offseason.

Corey Nelson finished his outstanding season a regular starter on the Broncos defense, grabbing 7 tackles and recovering a fumble in a win against the Raiders.

Aaron Ripkowski, “the sudden star”, went boom in the Packers division-winning game against the Lions, rushing 9 times for a team-high 61 yards (!) and adding 2 catches for 15 yards and this touchdown:

Sterling Shepard finished his rookie regular season with only 3 catches for 30 yards in Week 17, as the Giants won in Washington and look ahead to their NFC Wildcard matchup against Rip’s Packers on Sunday.

Kenny Stills caught 4 passes for 41 yards and a touchdown in the Dolphins loss to the Pats. Damien Williams added 2 carries for 5 yards and 3 catches for 23 yards, while defensive teammate Jordan Phillips contributed 2 tackles for loss and defended a pass to cap their regular seasons. The Sooners’ Miami Three enjoyed a 10-6 season and will make their playoff debuts against the Steelers this Sunday.

These Sooners also saw action for their respective teams this weekend:

(*denotes starter)

*Chris Chester (RG - Falcons), Aaron Colvin (CB - Jaguars), *Jermaine Gresham (TE - Cardinals), Geneo Grissom (DE - Patriots), *Lane Johnson (RT - Eagles), *Donald Stephenson (RT – Broncos), *Tress Way (P - Washington), *Daryl Williams (RG - Panthers), *Trent Williams (LT - Washington), James Winchester (LS - Chiefs)

The following Sooners were inactive or did not play in Week 17:

Dominique Alexander (LB - Browns), Blake Bell (TE - 49ers, IR), Devante Bond (LB – Bucs, IR), James Hanna (TE – Cowboys, IR), Gabe Ikard (C – Browns), Tony Jefferson (S - Cardinals, IR), David King (DE - Chiefs), Stacy McGee (DT - Raiders), Adrian Peterson (RB - Vikings), Zack Sanchez (CB – Panthers, IR), Charles Tapper (DE - Cowboys, IR)

Sooners in the Playoffs

Sunday, January 8

12:05 p.m. CT on CBS - Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers

In the AFC, the trio of Sooner Dolphins Kenny Stills, Damien Williams and Jordan Phillips travel to Pittsburgh for this Sunday’s wildcard matchup. Stills has been the team’s lethal deep threat and finished the year sixth in the league in receiving touchdowns, with nine, in his first season in Miami. Williams has emerged in a solid role this season as a backup running back and utility player in the Dolphins offense. Big Jordan Phillips will look to get after Ben Roethlisberger as he continues to start on Miami’s defensive line. The Steelers should win this one comfortably, though, despite the Dolphins winning the teams’ Week 6 matchup at home, 30-15.

Going out on a limb here, but I’m betting Landry Jones will not get the start in this one. His clipboard game should be on point, though.

3:40 p.m. CT on FOX – New York Giants at Green Bay Packers

Both former Sooner standouts Sterling Shepard and Aaron Ripkowski have been integral parts of their teams’ offenses this season, and though Shep’s contributions in New York were to be expected, Rip has surprisingly blossomed into a rushing and receiving threat for Aaron Rodgers through Green Bay’s surge into the playoffs. The Giants’ defensive strength is the secondary, but the team has shown some vulnerability to the run, especially if employed with an element of surprise as in Rip’s case. Defenses can only account for so many Packers if A-Rod has time to scramble, and the former OU fullback has become one of his go-to guys near the end zone in the latter part of the season.

As long as OBJ’s party boat didn’t take too much out of him and his teammates, I expect Shep to get a few looks in this rematch of 2011’s divisional battle. Although Eli Manning and the Giants offense have struggled as of late, the Packers secondary has looked suspect at times through the season. If Manning has time in the pocket, Shep could be a prime beneficiary of blanket coverage on a one Odell Beckham, Jr. And I expect the Packers to get out to an early lead, so Eli will be forced to sling it all afternoon.

Top Plays of 2016

Finally, here are the top plays of the season from your Sooners in the NFL.

10) Kenny Stills’ TD and handshake with Tony Jefferson (Week 14)

9) Shep with a fourth-and-goal score for the Monday Night win (Week 10)

8) Rip’s beastly run for six (Week 13)

7) Stills with the spin and score (Week 12)

6) DeMarco Murray reverses field and leaves defenders in the dust. (Week 8)

5) Jermaine Gresham’s rumble into the end zone. (Week 12)

4) Murray throws for six. (Week 10)

3) Sammy B drops a dime to Stefon Diggs as he takes a big hit. (Week 2)

2) Welcome to the NFL, Sterling Shepard. (Week 1)

1) A trademark dive from DeMarco takes the top spot. (Week 1)

Unforgettable Plays by the Unheralded

Tress Way fake punt, 1st down (Week 3)

James Winchester’s recovery on a fumbled Broncos punt (Week 12)

Damien Williams with a twisting touchdown grab (Week 10)

Jordan Phillips’ INT and run (Week 9)

And Phillips’ blocked kick goes for two (Week 14)