Stanford in the NFL, Conference Championships: Thomas, Irwin heading to Super Bowl

Feb. 1, 2022, 8:56 p.m.

Despite facing a 21-3 deficit in the first half, the Cincinnati Bengals were able to come back and defeat the Kansas City Chiefs 27-24 in a thrilling AFC Championship Game. The overtime victory sent Cincinnati to their first Super Bowl since 1988. 

Cincinnati’s victory means that two former Cardinal, safety Michael Thomas ’12 and wide receiver Trenton Irwin ’19, will represent Stanford in the Super Bowl. 

Against the Chiefs, Thomas played the majority of special teams snaps and had a solo tackle in the winning effort. Thomas’ veteran presence has been crucial to the growth of the Bengals’ secondary all season, and the team will now play for a championship in just two weeks. 

The Stanford alumni in the NFC Championship Game were not as successful as their counterparts in the AFC, however.

The 49ers’ 20-17 loss ended the season for two Cardinal rookies: linebacker Curtis Robinson ’21 and wide receiver Connor Wedington ’21. 

Robinson began his NFL career with the Denver Broncos earlier this season, totaling five total tackles and a quarterback hit in three appearances. He was released by the Broncos on Nov. 30 and signed with San Francisco less than a week later. Robinson played some special teams snaps in each of the last three weeks of the season and recorded a solo tackle in the 49ers’ Week 18 playoff-clinching victory. 

Wedington started the year on the Seattle Seahawks’ practice squad before being added to the 49ers practice squad, where he spent the majority of his rookie season. 

Thomas and the rest of the Bengals’ secondary will look to shut down star receiver Cooper Kupp and the Rams’ offense when the Super Bowl kicks off on Feb. 13 at 3:30 p.m. PT in Los Angeles.

Drew Silva is a writer for the sports section. He is a junior from Pawtucket, Rhode Island studying computer science and symbolic systems. In his free time, he enjoys watching Executive Editor Tammer Bagdasarian play blackjack. You can find him watching NFL Redzone on Sundays.

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