BERKELEY – Five former Cal football players -- C.J. Anderson (Denver), Andre Carter (New England), Marshawn Lynch (Seattle), Brandon Mebane (Seattle) and Shane Vereen (New England) – are members of teams that won Divisional Round games in the NFL Playoffs to advance to the AFC and NFC Conference Championships next Sunday, Jan. 19. This ties Cal for eighth among colleges with former players on teams remaining in the playoffs.
Cal will have former players on both sides of the AFC Championship contest with a New England team featuring Carter and Vereen visiting a Denver squad with Anderson (1 p.m. MT/Noon PT, CBS). A Seattle club with Lynch and Mebane will host San Francisco in the NFC title game (3:30 p.m. PT, FOX).
Lynch and Mebane were the first Golden Bears to reach a conference championship game on Saturday when the Seahawks defeated a New Orleans squad with former Cal players Brian De La Puente and Cameron Jordan. Lynch ran for 140 yards and two touchdowns for his third 100-yard rushing game in the NFL Playoffs and is the only Cal alum to rush for over 100 yards in an NFL postseason game since Chuck Muncie accomplished the feat in 1982. Lynch added one catch for three yards in the 23-15 victory, while Mebane had three tackles. Jordan contributed six tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss and 1.0 sack, with his 2.5 sacks in two postseason games the second-most in the NFL Playoffs through the Divisional Round. All four players started.
Carter and Vereen also both made their way to the AFC Championship on Saturday when the Patriots were 43-22 winners at home over Indianapolis. Vereen rushed five times for 17 yards and added two catches for 16, while Carter played off the bench.
Anderson joined Saturday’s four Golden Bears to move on in the NFL Playoffs on Sunday when his Denver team held off San Diego, 24-17, despite a team-high six receptions for games highs of 142 yards and two touchdown catches in a losing effort by another former Cal player Keenan Allen. All of Allen’s production came in the second half with both scoring grabs in the fourth quarter. Anderson was active for the game but did not play. Lavelle Hawkins (inactive) and Steve Williams (injured reserve) also both finished the season on San Diego’s roster.
A Carolina team that featured former Cal players Ron Rivera (head coach) and Richard Rodgers (special teams coordinator) on its coaching staff fell 23-10 in Sunday’s first Divisional Round Game to San Francisco.
All told, 12 former Cal players were involved with teams in the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs, while 16 were in the postseason with the campaigns of DeSean Jackson (Philadelphia), Marvin Jones (Cincinnati), Mychal Kendricks (Philadelphia) and Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay) ending during the league’s Wild-Card Weekend.
Cal has had at least one player on a Super Bowl roster in 11 of the last 12 seasons.