Near the end of the first half of the NFC championship game, Alshon Jeffery made a spectacular play that helped put his team in Super Bowl LII.
The former South Carolina Gamecocks great was on the receiving end of a 53-yard touchdown pass that gave Jeffery’s Eagles a 14-point lead over the Minnesota Vikings. The lead swelled as Philadelphia prevailed 38-7 to advance to the NFL’s biggest game where it will face the New England Patriots.
While Philadelphia quarterback Nick Foles fended off pass rushers, Jeffery simply ran past the Minnesota secondary.
After the former Gamecock star receiver with a knack for making big plays outran Terrence Newman, Foles finally saw him streaking down the right side of the field and connected with him on what could be a back-breaking score.
Jeffery finished the first half with three receptions for 70 yards and the big touchdown.
Jeffery scored another touchdown early in the fourth quarter that was another blow dealt to the Vikings. Jeffery’s 5-yard touchdown catch put the Eagles ahead by 31 points.
As he did so many times with the Gamecocks, Jeffery went over the top of his defender to haul in another high pass for a score.
Jeffery finished the game with five receptions for 85 yards and the two touchdowns. In the postseason he has nine catches for 146 yards and two TDs.
His former USC teammate, Stephon Gilmore earned a berth in the NFL’s biggest game earlier Sunday when he batted a fourth-and-15 pass to the ground in the New England Patriots’ 24-20 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC championship game.
Jeffery and Gilmore spent plenty of time going head-to-head in Gamecocks practices from 2009-11.
Gilmore was selected 10th overall in the 2012 draft by the Buffalo Bills. He spent five years with the Bills before signing a five-year, $65 million free agent contract with the Patriots.
Jeffery was drafted in the second round of the 2012 draft by the Chicago Bears. He spent five years with the Bears before signing a one-year deal with Eagles in 2017, but he signed a four-year, $52 million extension during the season.
The St. Matthews native overcame a slow start in his first season with Philadelphia to finish with 57 receptions for 789 yards and nine touchdowns.
For his NFL career, Jeffery has 361 catches for 5,338 yards and 35 touchdowns.
At South Carolina, Jeffery was twice named All-SEC and an All-American in 2010, when he hauled in 88 catches for 1,517 yards and nine touchdowns. In three seasons as the Gamecocks’ top receiver, Jeffery amassed 183 receptions, 3,042 yards and 23 touchdowns.
This is the sixth year in a row a Gamecock has advanced to the Super Bowl. Last season, fullback Patrick DiMarco played on football’s biggest stage with the Atlanta Falcons. In 2016, defensive back Darian Stewart represented USC, playing for the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos.
After playing college football for USC, offensive lineman Lemuel Jeanpierre appeared in back-to-back Super Bowls for the Seattle Seahawks in 2015 and 2014. Sidney Rice was a star receiver/kick returner for the Gamecocks and was teammates with Jeanpierre on Seattle’s Super Bowl winner in 2014.
Two Gamecocks were on opposite sides in the 2013 Super Bowl, and both were defensive backs. Emanuel Cook played for the victorious Baltimore Ravens while Chris Culliver suited up for the San Francisco 49ers.
Gamecocks in the Super Bowl
1970, 1974, 1975, 1977
New York Giants
1987, 1988, 1990