Big Apple bound: 2 Aggies, a Ute and a Wildcat are headed to Super Bowl XLVIII (5 items)
Frank Sinatra so eloquently sang about the historic city more than three decades ago, and now four NFL players with Utah ties will "be a part of it" when Super Bowl XLVIII hits New York in a couple of weeks.
Sunday's NFC and AFC championship games lived up to the hype as Denver and Peyton Manning knocked out Tom Brady and New England, 26-16, in the AFC title game. In the NFC, the Seahawks found a way to rally past division rival San Francisco, winning 23-17 in Seattle.
That sets the stage for two former Utah State players, as well as a Ute and a Wildcat, to play in this year's Super Bowl, to be played Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
Here's a look at the four players and how they've contributed to their teams this season:
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1 of 5. Bobby Wagner (Utah State), Seattle MLB
He finished the regular season with a team-high 120 tackles, including 72 solo. Of all the local players who will participate in the Super Bowl, Wagner could have the biggest impact.
“I feel like I just know the game a lot better than I did last year,’’ Wagner told the Seattle Times before this week's game. “Last year, I felt like a little kid out there playing to play with the big boys. This year, I feel like I belong here.”
2 of 5. Robert Turbin (Utah State), Seattle RB
3 of 5. Paul McQuistan (Weber State), Seattle G
4 of 5. Zane Beadles (Utah, Hillcrest High), Denver LG
Beadles' 1.5 sacks allowed this season were the fifth-fewest among 16-game starting guards, according to denverbroncos.com.
“Every single week we have worked to get better and better than the week before,” Beadles told reporters, regarding the team's offensive line. “There have probably been some games in there that we didn’t take as big of a step forward as we may have wanted to from week to week. But it has just been an ongoing process throughout the whole season.”
5 of 5. Those who played but lost
Austin Collie (BYU), New England WR: Collie ended a difficult season with his best game, even in the Patriots' loss to the Broncos. After entering the AFC championship with just seven catches for 78 yards in limited action this year, Collie had four catches for 57 yards against Denver.
With the Patriots trailing by as many as 20 points in the second half, they were forced to air it out in the latter stages of the game, and Collie was a benefactor. His first two catches came on third downs, and both times Collie picked up the first down. His final two catches — of 20 and 18 yards — came on touchdown drives with New England trying to rally.
Sealver Siliga (Utah, Copper Hills High), New England DT: Siliga started at defensive tackle for the Patriots and had five solo tackles and a tackle for loss Sunday. He started both playoff games for New England this season and started six games overall in 2013-14 after being signed to the Patriots' practice squad in late October.
An interesting stat: during his three-year NFL career, he has spent time on the roster of all four teams that played in this weekend's AFC and NFC championship games.
Will Tukuafu (East High), San Francisco FB: Tukuafu played in the game against Seattle but did not record any statistics. He earned starts in the 49ers' first two playoff games — against Green Bay and Carolina — and recorded his only reception of the year, for two yards, in San Francisco's win over the Panthers last week.