NFL Hawaii Tracker: Five NFL playoff teams feature players with island ties


Las Vegas Raiders’ Marcus Mariota (8) runs for a gain against Los Angeles Chargers safety Alohi Gilman (32) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

The NFL truly saved its best for last to close out its regular season.

On Sunday Night Football, playoff hopes were on the line when the Los Angeles Chargers visited the Las Vegas Raiders to close out the 18th and final week of the 2021 NFL regular season.

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Either team would get into the playoffs with a win, but both would enter postseason play if the game finished in a tie. Sunday’s contest between the Chargers and Raiders came down to the final seconds, with the Raiders ultimately prevailing 35-32 after Daniel Carlson’s 47-yard field goal as time expired in overtime. As a result, LA’s season is done, while Las Vegas advances to face the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. HST.

On Sunday’s fateful game, three players with Hawaii ties suited up and all three made crucial plays. For the Raiders, Saint Louis alumnus Marcus Mariota ran the ball four times for 23 yards and completed his lone pass attempt for four yards. For the Chargers, Kahuku product Alohi Gilman finished with five tackles (three solo), including a touchdown-saving tackle against Mariota. Farrington alum Breiden Fehoko also logged a tackle for the Bolts.

Here’s how other players with Hawaii ties fared during Week 18 of the NFL season:


DeForest Buckner, defensive lineman, Indianapolis Colts (Punahou): Buckner had three solo tackles, including one for loss, in a 26-11 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Colts fell to 9-8 and missed out on a playoff spot after losing two straight win-and-get-in games.

Ka’imi Fairbairn, kicker, Houston Texans (Punahou): Fairbairn made his lone field goal attempt and both of his extra point tries in a 28-25 loss against the Tennessee Titans. The Texans end their season at 4-13.

Kamu Grugier-Hill, linebacker, Houston Texans (Kamehameha): Grugier-Hill had seven tackles (five solo), including a tackle for loss, against theTitans.

Trayvon Henderson, safety, Cincinnati Bengals (University of Hawaii): After being called up to the active roster as a COVID replacement, Henderson had four tackles (two solo) and a 29-yard touchdown on a fumble recovery in a 21-16 loss to the Cleveland Browns. The Bengals will open against the Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday.

Nate Herbig, guard, Philadelphia Eagles (Saint Louis): Herbig was placed on the COVID-19 list prior to the game. The Eagles lost 51-26 to the Dallas Cowboys but had already clinched a playoff spot after Week 17. The Eagles will face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday at 8 a.m. HST.

Marcus Kemp, receiver, Kansas City Chiefs (University of Hawaii): Kemp saw time on offense and special teams but did not accumulate any statistics in a 28-24 win over the Denver Broncos. The Chiefs will open against the Pittsburgh Steelers at 3:15 p.m. HST on Sunday.

Keith Kirkwood, receiver, Carolina Panthers (University of Hawaii): Kirkwood was promoted to the active roster. prior to a 41-17 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In Week 18, he received a target on offense but did not record any statistics. The Panthers finish 5-12.

Netane Muti, guard, Denver Broncos (Leilehua): Muti started at left guard in a 28-24 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. The Broncos finish their season 7-10.

Sammis Reyes, tight end, Washington Football Team (University of Hawaii): Reyes was ruled inactive prior to the team’s 22-7 win over the New York Giants. WTF ends its season at 7-10.

Rigoberto Sanchez, punter, Colts (University of Hawaii): Sanchez had two punts for a total of 78 yards in a 26-11 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Tua Tagovailoa, quarterback, Miami Dolphins (Saint Louis): Tagovailoa completed 15 of his 22 passes for a total of 109 yards and a touchdown in a 33-24 win over the New England Patriots. He also carried the ball five times for a total of 38 yards. The Dolphins, who were eliminated from playoff contention last week, finish their season 9-8.

Jahlani Tavai, linebacker, New England Patriots (University of Hawaii): Tavai was active but did not record any statistics in a 33-24 loss against the Miami Dolphins. The Patriots dropped to 10-7 but had already clinched a playoff spot, where they’ll open against the Buffalo Bills on Saturday at 3:15 p.m. HST.


Bradlee Anae, defensive end, Dallas Cowboys (Kahuku)

Rico Bussey, receiver, Pittsburgh Steelers (University of Hawaii)


Trevor Davis, receiver (University of Hawaii)

Rojesterman Farris, cornerback, (University of Hawaii)

Hercules Mata’afa, defensive tackle (Lahainaluna)

Kamalei Correa, linebacker (Saint Louis)

Leo Koloamatangi, offensive lineman (University of Hawaii) 

Cole McDonald, quarterback, Toronto Argonauts (CFL) (University of Hawaii)

Jordan Ta’amu, quarterback (Pearl City)

Manti Te’o, linebacker (Punahou)

JoJo Ward, receiver (University of Hawaii)


Tyson Alualu, defensive tackle, Pittsburgh Steelers (Saint Louis): Alualu is out indefinitely with a fractured ankle.

Isaac Seumalo, offensive lineman, Philadelphia Eagles (born in Hawaii): Seumalo is out for the season due to foot surgery.

John Ursua, receiver, Seattle Seahawks (University of Hawaii): Ursua is out for the season with a torn ACL.

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