Heisman Winners Burrow, Smith, Jackson Head To The NFL Playoffs

Joe Burrow

The 2022 NFL regular season is in the books and three Heisman Trophy winners are headed to the playoffs, Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow, Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson and Philadelphia’s DeVonta Smith, all with a Super Bowl on their mind.

Burrow and Jackson will meet in the Wild Card Round this weekend while Smith’s Eagles have a bye.

No Heisman winner has won a Super Bowl since Charles Woodson in Super Bowl XLV, although Burrow came within minutes of a ring last season in LVI. 

Overall, Heisman winners have appeared on Super Bowl rosters 27 times while a combined 10 Heisman winners have won a total of 12 Super Bowls (Roger Staubach and Jim Plunkett being the only repeat winners).

Should either Burrow’s Bengals or Smith’s Eagles run the table, they would become just the fourth Heisman winner to win both a national title in college and a Super Bowl title, joining Tony Dorsett, Marcus Allen and Woodson in an elite group.

Burrow turned in his third straight prolific season for Cincinnati throwing for 4,475 yards (fifth-most in the NFL) on 68.3% passing (second-highest), averaging 279.7 yards per game (second-best). He posted career bests for completions (414), attempts (606) and TD passes (35, tied for second-most)) while also running for a career-best 257 yards and five scores. All this despite being sacked the sixth-most times in the league (41).

Jackson was in the midst of a fine season before an injury cost him the final five games. He finished the regular season with 2,242 passing yards and 17 scores to go with 764 rushing yards and three rushing TDs.

Smith built on a strong rookie campaign with a stellar sophomore season, catching 95 passes (11th-most in the NFL) for 1,196 yards (ninth-most) and seven touchdowns (tied for 15th-most).

Derrick Henry’s Titans’ came close to reaching the playoffs, but Tennessee’s late-season slump saw them miss out.

Still, Henry came through with another huge season, finishing with 1,538 rushing yards on an NFL-most 349 carries. His rushing total was second-most in the NFL while his 13 rushing scores were tied for second-most.

Henry, whose 2027 rushing yards in 2020 is the fifth-most in NFL history, is now 42nd on the NFL’s career rushing chart with 8,335. Among the fellow Heisman winners he passed this season were Herschel Walker (8,225), the still-active Mark Ingram (now in 50th with 8,111 yards) and George Rogers (7,176). The next Heisman winner above Henry is Earl Campbell (37th, 9,407).

Heisman Trophy winners, by the way, account for five of the top 11 top NFL rushing seasons of all time and six of the top 15.

Barry Sanders’ 1997 total of 2,053 is fourth-most in NFL history, just ahead of Henry’s 2020 effort. O.J. Simpson is eighth (2,003 in 1973), Campbell is ninth (1,934 in 1980) while Sanders’ 1,883 yards in 1994 is tied for 10th. Ricky Williams’ 2002 season when he ran for 1,853 is 15th highest on the NFL chart.

Kyler Murray suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 11. He finished with 2,368 passing yards and 14 touchdown passes while rushing for 418 yards and three TDs.

Fellow Oklahoma Heisman winner Baker Mayfield had a roller-coaster of a season. He started seven games for Carolina before being released. But he was picked up by the Rams and started their final five games, which included a thrilling comeback win over the Raiders in his debut effort in Los Angeles.

Marcus Mariota, in his first season with Atlanta, played in 13 games, throwing for 2,219 yards and 15 scores while rushing for 438 yards and four more TDs.

Jameis Winston’s eighth season in the NFL ended after three games due to injury and the 2013 Heisman winner has been limited to just 14 games in the last three seasons.