College programs love to negatively recruit regarding Oregon and how “they don’t put players into the NFL.” But even a power outage couldn’t keep this Super Bowl full of Ducks from participating in possibly the greatest Super Bowl in NFL history. In a 34-31 Ravens victory over the Niners, Duck fans probably had mixed feelings on which team they wanted to win.
When there are Ducks on each team, whom do you root for? You have Ed Dickson, Dennis Dixon and Haloti Ngata on the Ravens, and LaMichael James and Will Tukuafu on the 49ers. Those are some seriously beloved Ducks.
Behind the Miami Hurricanes (15) and the Wisconsin Badgers (9), the Ducks (8) had the third most players of any college program in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs. Aside from the Super Bowl Ducks there was Max Unger (Seattle center and 2013 Pro Bowl selection), Patrick Chung (New England safety and former Pro Bowl selection), Drew Davis (Atlanta wide receiver), and Eddie Pleasant (Houston safety) who were featured in this year’s playoffs.
Sure, the Ducks haven’t had trainloads of first round picks recently, but those players from Oregon that make it to the NFL represent a strong and reliable group of players.
Last night was about a special group of Ducks, though — the ones that had the opportunity to play for the trophy. At the end of the night, two Ducks were going to win the Super Bowl and two had to go home empty handed. This is how these four beloved Ducks fared throughout the night.
Haloti Ngata is the game’s premier defensive lineman. At 6’4″ and 340 pounds, he is a force anywhere on the line. Last night, however, a sprained knee in the third quarter shortened this Duck’s Super Bowl victory. Ngata finished the night with two solo tackles, one of which showcased his freakish athleticism by running down Frank Gore nearly ten yards after the line of scrimmage.
Dickson can be thanked for the Ravens’ second touchdown drive along with setting block after block for Ray Rice. On deep crossing routes, Ed notched two catches for 37 yards that lead Baltimore to the thirteen yard line before a Dennis Pitta touchdown put the Ravens up 14-3. Both plays displayed the speed and route running that made Dickson a terror at the college level. In his third season in the NFL, Ed Dickson is now a Super Bowl Champion.
Dixon was a member of the scout team and did not play. Dixon posed as Kaepernick in practices leading up to the Super Bowl; he was obviously effective.
A defensive end at Oregon, the San Francisco 49ers converted Tukuafu to fullback. Behind starting fullback Bruce Miller, Tukuafu didn’t see much action. Nevertheless, Tukuafu is a part of the NFC champions squad that was a few plays away from their first Super Bowl since ’95.
Probably most fans’ favorite Duck of all-time, LaMichael James will be haunted by one play for the entire offseason. After a beautiful first run that saw James power through a Haloti Ngata arm tackle for nine yards, LaMichael fumbled the ball that eventually led to Ed Dickson’s two catches and a Ravens touchdown. In the return game, LaMichael averaged twenty-five yards on three returns. Overall, a costly fumble will loom heavy on James’ shoulders until next season, as the Niners struggled for the rest of the first half.
At the end of the day, Oregon won; they had to. While three Ducks’ happiness is the cause of two Ducks’ pain, it was great publicity for the university. Have fun trying to say we don’t produce NFL talent when there were four Oregon Alumni in the Super Bowl. I don’t recall seeing any Huskies out there…