The Wolverine

March 2022

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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94 THE WOLVERINE MARCH 2022 BY CLAYTON SAYFIE T wo former Michigan defensive backs are now Super Bowl champions af- ter the Los Angeles Rams took down the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20 in Super Bowl LVI Feb. 13 at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles. David Long Jr., a third-year pro, and Blake Countess, who finished his collegiate career at Auburn, earned a ring with the organization. The game came down to the wire, with the Rams scoring the game-win- ning touchdown with 1:25 remaining and making a defensive stop to put a stamp on the triumph. Long started the contest and racked up four tackles (three solo) while Countess, a reserve, was inactive after seeing sporadic time on special teams throughout the season and earlier in the playoffs. All told, the Bengals' prolific pass- ing attack was held to just 226 yards and 7.9 yards per attempt. Long was not targeted down the field despite being in on 50 defensive snaps, and was praised for his coverage on the Rams' final stop of the game. He followed Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow's eyes, left his man momen- tarily and closed in on wide receiver Tee Higgins, whom Burrow appeared to be targeting. Long's instinctual play forced Burrow to clutch the ball, giving Los Angeles defensive tackle Aaron Donald enough time to grab the signal-caller and force a wild throw that ended up incomplete, sealing the victory. For the postseason, Long totaled 12 tackles and had an interception return for touchdown in the team's wild card win over the Arizona Cardinals. Former U-M running back and rookie Chris Evans was on the other side and made a key play for the Bengals. On the team's second-to-last drive, Burrow found Evans in the flat for a three-yard gain that resulted in a first down on third-and-two. The Bengals, who led 20-16 at the time, failed to score and extend their lead on that drive, however. Evans scored two touchdowns in the regular season and had nine kick returns for 211 yards during the postseason. Long and Co. winning the Super Bowl marks eight straight seasons in which a former U-M player has won the title. FORMER WOLVERINES IN THE NFL From divisional round through Super Bowl LVI • Tom Brady (Played at U-M from 1995-99), QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The second-team All-Pro signal-caller completed 30 of 54 passes for 329 yards with one touchdown with one intercep- tion in the Bucs' 30-27 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in the divisional round … Subsequently announced his retire- ment after 22 seasons in the NFL. • Frank Clark (2011-14), DE, Kansas City Chiefs: Started and notched two tackles (one for loss) in the Chiefs' 42-36 overtime victory over the Buffalo Bills in the divisional round … Started and recorded one tackle in a 27-24 overtime loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship Game. • Mike Danna (2019), DE, Kansas City Chiefs: Did not record any statis- tics in the overtime triumph versus the Bills in the divisional round … Made two tackles on 14 defensive snaps in the setback against the Bengals in the AFC title game. • Chris Evans (2016-20), RB, Cincin- nati Bengals: Had one rush for four yards and returned three kicks for 82 yards (27.3 yards per return) in the Ben- gals' 19-16 win over the top-seeded Tennessee Titans in the divisional round … Returned one kick for 26 yards in Cincinnati's 27-24 overtime victory ver- sus the Chiefs in the AFC Champion- ship Game … Caught one pass for three yards — picking up a key third-down conversion — in the 23-20 defeat at the hands of the Rams in Super Bowl LVI. • Rashan Gary (2016-18), LB, Green Bay Packers: Started and registered four tackles, two sacks and three hits on the quarterback in Green Bay's 13- 10 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the divisional round … His 86.8 Pro Football Focus (PFF) grade was the best on the team among defensive players … He Long made four tackles and contributed strong pass coverage to help the Rams secure a 23-20 victory over the Bengals. PHOTO COURTESY LOS ANGELES RAMS   MICHIGAN IN THE PROS David Long Jr. Makes Key Play In Super Bowl LVI Victory

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