Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Super Quest Still Alive

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Super Quest Still Alive

Article excerpt

Carolina Panthers tight end and Wayne native Greg Olsen represented North Jersey as the 19th player born and raised, or to have played high school football, in Bergen or Passaic counties and play for a team that appeared in a Super Bowl a year ago.

Nine have won rings - Olsen's Panthers lost Super Bowl 50 to Peyton Manning and the Broncos - and a group of five remains alive in that quest this season as the NFL reaches the divisional playoffs of its postseason this weekend.

Texans linebacker Brian Cushing (Bergen Catholic/Park Ridge), Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali (Teaneck), Seahawks tight end Tanner McEvoy (Bergen Catholic/Hillsdale) and Patriots teammates, CB Devin McCourty (St. Joseph/Nanuet, N.Y.) and WR Chris Hogan (Ramapo/ Wyckoff).

Of the five players, McCourty is a past Super Bowl champion, having won Super Bowl XLIX with the Patriots two seasons ago. For a playoff rookie like Hogan, the excitement is palpable.

The challenge, however, is to treat the rest of the games going forward as if the stakes are no different.

"I've kind of picked a couple of guys brains here ... you know, those guys that have been here before and just asked them how to approach this game," Hogan told reporters this week. "And it's really the same thing from all of them - just another football game. It's going to be electric with the fans, everyone is going to be really into it. There's going to be a lot of energy but I've just got to approach it like another football game and not get too hyped up and just keep playing good football."

Here is a look at other story lines that highlight the NFL's divisional round:

THE ROOKIE REIGN BEGINS: No rookie quarterback has ever started in a Super Bowl, but Dak Prescott of the Cowboys hopes to change that. It will be interesting to see Prescott and another rookie in running back Ezekiel Elliott step into the playoff spotlight for the first time when Aaron Rodgers and the Packers come calling at AT&T Stadium late Sunday afternoon.

The Cowboys will begin to shoulder the burden of being the No. 1 seed in the NFC and how the combination of Prescott and Elliott handle themselves will go a long way in Dallas' quest to return to a Super Bowl for the first time since 1996. …

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