Thanks to the New England Patriots dynasty, four players with Utah ties are headed to Super Bowl LII.
That includes two active roster players — former BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy and former Utah defensive back Eric Rowe — a guy on the practice squad and another on injured reserve for New England.
Van Noy and Rowe both made big defensive plays in the fourth quarter to help the Patriots rally to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 24-20 in Sunday’s AFC championship game.
The NFC won’t have any local representatives in the Super Bowl, as Philadelphia, which beat Minnesota 38-7 in the NFC championship game later Sunday, doesn't have any players with Utah ties on its roster.
New England trailed Jacksonville 14-3 in the second quarter and 20-10 in the fourth quarter before rallying to advance to face the Eagles in Super Bowl LII (Feb. 4, 4:30 p.m. MST, TV: NBC).
Jacksonville faced a second-and-10 at the New England 38 with 2:07 to play after the Patriots took a 24-20 lead on a Danny Amendola touchdown. On the play, veteran Patriots linebacker James Harrison beat the left tackle off the line and forced Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles back into the middle of the pocket, where he was met by Van Noy.
Van Noy took down Bortles for the sack and forced a fumble, which Jacksonville recovered, setting up with the Jaguars with a third-and-19.
After a short pass on third down, Jacksonville couldn't connect on a long pass downfield on fourth and New England ran out the clock.
Van Noy, who started at linebacker, also had a pass breakup on an attempt deep downfield on the Jaguars’ first drive. He made up ground on running back T.J. Yeldon and tipped the ball away along the sideline, helping to force the Jaguars to punt two plays later.
Van Noy finished the game with a team-high tying nine tackles, including five solo stops, and a tackle for loss, to go along with the sack, forced fumble and pass deflection.
Earlier in the fourth quarter, Rowe made a pass deflection near the sideline on a second-and-11 at the Jacksonville 9-yard line, stepping in front of wideout Allen Hurns to make the play, with the Jaguars nursing a 20-17 lead with 5:23 to play. Two plays later, the Jaguars were forced to punt, and that led to New England's game-winning drive, which began in Jacksonville territory.
Rowe had four tackles, including three solo stops, to go with the pass deflection.
Van Noy and Rowe both won their first Super Bowl rings with the Patriots last year, when New England rallied from a 28-3 deficit to beat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime.
Two local players who aren’t expected to play for the Patriots in Super Bowl LII are former Utah linebacker Trevor Reilly and former BYU and Bingham High linebacker Harvey Langi.
Reilly currently is on the Patriots' practice squad, re-signing with the team on Jan. 3. He played in six games, starting one, for the Patriots during the regular season and had 10 tackles before being released by New England on Dec. 26.
Langi, an undrafted rookie, played in one game and had a tackle before going on injured reserve after being involved in a car crash in October along with his wife.