Buckner, Sanchez, Alualu move on to 2021 NFL playoffs


Indianapolis Colts’ DeForest Buckner (99) celebrates after sacking Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Mike Glennon during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins controlled their playoff destiny heading into Sunday’s slate of Week 17 NFL games but were unable to capitalize, losing 56-26 to the Buffalo Bills.

The biggest beneficiary of Miami’s loss? That would be the Indianapolis Colts, who swooped in to take the final playoff spot in the AFC after a 28-14 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Punahou’s DeForest Buckner continued to anchor the defensive line for the Colts with four tackles, two sacks and a pass deflection. Also for Indianapolis, Hawaii’s Rigoberto Sanchez punted four times for a total of 173 yards while also handling kickoff duties. The Colts will visit the Bills in the Wild Card round on Saturday for an 8:05 a.m. HST kickoff that will be televised on CBS.

Buckner and Sanchez will be two of the three NFL players with Hawaii ties in the NFL playoffs, which will begin next week. Pittsburgh Steelers nose tackle and Saint Louis alum Tyson Alualu will be the other.

Below are how other players with Hawaii ties performed during the final week of the NFL regular season:

Active roster

Tyson Alualu, defensive lineman, Pittsburgh Steelers (Saint Louis): Alualu had three tackles (one solo) and a pass deflection in a 24-22 loss to the Cleveland Browns, although the Steelers (12-4) had already clinched the AFC North prior to Sunday’s matchup. The Steelers will host the Browns in the Wild Card round next Sunday for a 3:15 p.m. HST kickoff on NBC.

Bradlee Anae, defensive end, Dallas Cowboys (Kahuku): Anae was ruled inactive prior to the team’s 23-19 loss to the New York Giants. The Cowboys (6-10) were eliminated from playoff contention with the loss.

Ka’imi Fairbairn, kicker, Houston Texans (Punahou): Fairbairn made all four of his field goal attempts and two of his three extra point tries in a 41-38 loss to the Tennessee Titans. Fairbairn made a 51-yard field goal to tie the game at 38 with 18 seconds remaining, but the Titans claimed the AFC South on Sam Sloman’s 37-yard field goal as time expired. The Texans finish 4-12, but the Dolphins own their pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, which is the third overall selection.

Alohi Gilman, safety, Los Angeles Chargers (Kahuku): Gilman started at strong safety in a 38-21 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. In his first career start, he had three tackles (two solo) and a quarterback hit before getting pulled due to a possible concussion. The Chargers finish the season at 7-9.

Kamu Grugier-Hill, linebacker, Miami Dolphins (Kamehameha): Prior to the team’s game against the Buffalo Bills, Grugier-Hill was ruled out due to a sickness that was unrelated to COVID-19.

Nate Herbig, guard, Philadelphia Eagles (Saint Louis): Herbig started at right guard in a 20-14 loss to the Washington Football Team.

Marcus Kemp, receiver, Miami Dolphins (University of Hawaii): Kemp was elevated to the active roster on Saturday, although he did not record any statistics in a 56-26 loss to the Bills.

Marcus Mariota, quarterback, Las Vegas Raiders (Saint Louis): Mariota was active but did not play in a 32-31 win over the Denver Broncos. The Raiders were eliminated from playoff contention in Week 16 and finish the season at 8-8.

Hercules Mata’afa, defensive tackle, Minnesota Vikings (Lahainaluna): Mata’afa had a sack in a 37-35 win over the Detroit Lions. The Vikings end their 2020 campaign at 7-9.

Netane Muti, guard, Denver Broncos (Leilehua): Muti received reps at right guard in a 32-31 loss against the Las Vegas Raiders. He also registered a tackle to prevent a Henry Ruggs touchdown on a field goal return. The Broncos finish the season 5-11.

Isaac Seumalo, offensive lineman, Philadelphia Eagles (born in Hawaii): Seumalo started at left guard in a 20-14 loss against the Washington Football Team. The Eagles finish the season at 4-10-1.

Tua Tagovailoa, quarterback, Miami Dolphins (Saint Louis): Tagovailoa and the Dolphins struggled mightily in a 56-26 loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. Despite winning 10 games this year, their playoff hopes were officially dashed when the Colts beat the Jaguars.

Jahlani Tavai, linebacker, Detroit Lions (University of Hawaii): Tavai had 12 tackles (eight solo) and a tackle for loss in a 37-35 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. The Lions end their season at 5-11.

Injured reserve 

Keith Kirkwood, receiver, Carolina Panthers (University of Hawaii)

Left squad list

Kamalei Correa, outside linebacker, Jacksonville Jaguars (Saint Louis)

COVID-19 reserve 

Leo Koloamatangi, offensive lineman, New York Jets (University of Hawaii) 

Practice squad 

Trevor Davis, receiver, Washington Football Team (University of Hawaii)

Breiden Fehoko, defensive tackle, Los Angeles Chargers (Farrington)

Trayvon Henderson, safety, Cincinnati Bengals (University of Hawaii): After being released, Henderson was re-signed to the team’s practice squad on Tuesday.

Jordan Ta’amu, quarterback, Detroit Lions (Pearl City)

Manti Te’o, linebacker, Chicago Bears (Punahou)

John Ursua, receiver, Seattle Seahawks (University of Hawaii)

JoJo Ward, receiver, Arizona Cardinals (University of Hawaii)

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