South Carolina Football Alums in the AFC Playoffs
There are four former Gamecocks on active rosters in the AFC Playoffs, and three of them will be in action this weekend in the Wild Card Round.
The Baltimore Ravens are the AFC's top seed and finished the regular season with the NFL's best record. They will have a Bye in the first round of the NFL Playoffs but will play at home against the lowest-seeded winner from the Wild Card Round in next weekend's Divisional Round. They have one Gamecock on the roster.
South Carolina football legend Jadeveon Clowney has had a bit of career rejuvenation in Baltimore playing a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker role. Despite being on the wrong side of age 30, the former top-overall pick tied his career-high in sacks (9.5) and has helped "unlock" the best pass rush in the league. The Ravens tied their franchise record with 60 sacks this season, and the production and required blocking attention generated by the Gamecock great is a big reason why.
The Miami Dolphins are the 6-seed in the AFC Playoffs, and they are a unit that succeeds by getting their offensive speed position players in space. They will match up on the road with the defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs in the Wild Card Round of the AFC Playoffs at 8:00 EST on Saturday on Peacock (exclusively streamed). The Dolphins have two Gamecock defenders on their roster.
Melvin Ingram is one of the best pass rushers of the past decade in the National Football League. With three Pro Bowls in his history, Ingram was a late-season addition to the Miami roster, rejoining the team with whom he spent the 2022 season. Ingram has had an instant impact, tallying 1.5 sacks down the stretch of the season and providing the Dolphins with needed production in one of the NFL's position rooms most devastated by injuries this season.
After an All-SEC career in garnet and black, Cam Smith was a 2nd round pick of the Dolphins in the 2023 NFL Draft, but with veterans Jalen Ramsey, Xavien Howard, and Eli Apple entrenched at the cornerback positions, he hasn't played a ton this season. However, Smith's ability to play outside guarding teams' bigger receivers and inside in the slot will allow him the opportunity to play if the 'Phins need him, especially with Howard potentially out this weekend.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are the 7th seed in the AFC. Head coach Mike Tomlin, who has never had a losing season since becoming the team's head coach in 2007, got just enough out of a depleted roster to sneak into the NFL Playoffs this season. Pittsburgh will face off with the Buffalo Bills in Buffalo (or Cleveland if the weather is bad in Buffalo) this weekend in the Wild Card Round on Sunday at 1:00 on CBS. They have one Gamecock on their roster.
Darius Rush was a 5th round pick of the Indianapolis Colts in the 2023 NFL Draft, and the team inexplicably cut him. He was picked up off of waivers immediately by the Kansas City Chiefs even though KC didn't have room for him on the roster. Because he was on the Chiefs' practice squad, the Pittsburgh Steelers swooped in and signed Rush to their active roster. He has been a reserve in black and yellow but had a nice game earlier this year against the Titans.