Antoine Winfield, last week's hero, had a rough go of things on Thursday night. His Vikings were crushed by Tampa Bay at home, which was pretty surprising to anyone who watches the NFL regularly. Winfield had five tackles (2 solo) and a pass broken up, but it was a far cry from his usual excellence. He and the rest of his secondary mates gave up some big pass plays in allowing Josh Freeman and Doug Martin to have excellent games. Michael Jenkins, the other wily Buckeye vet playing for the folks up north, had four catches for a robust 78 yards.
Elsewhere in the NFC North, the Packers' defense had a pretty strong showing against the putrid Jaguars offense. Both AJ Hawk and Ryan Pickett contributed three solo tackles on defense. Hawk had six total tackles, while Pickett ran up five.
For the Lions, guard Rob Sims contributed to a strong effort against the Seahawks' vaunted defensive line. While he did give up a sack to defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, otherwise Sims was good in pass protection and helped the Lions to earn a four-point victory at home.
Chicago's Dane Sanzenbacher was active against the Panthers but did not record a statistic. Ben Hartsock did have one nice grab for 25 yards against the Bears - unfortunately his team could not pull out the "W" for the Gipper (aka injured corner Chris Gamble).
Elsewhere in the NFC, the St. Louis Rams took an early 7-0 lead on the New England Patriots and promptly gave up 45 straight points. Not a great showing for James Laurinaitis and the rest of the defense. Laurinaitis finished with five solo tackles. Jake McQuaide didn't have much work on field goals, obviously, but he did see the field for some punt snapping duty.
The Dolphins - Jets game featured three former Buckeyes. Nick Mangold did fine individually in the middle of the Jets' line, but struggled to make protection calls all day and his tackles were overwhelmed. Miami had four sacks off the edge from linebackers or defensive backs and harried Mark Sanchez all game long. On the other side, Austin Spitler had his first career multi-tackle game, recording three stops (2 solo). Brian Hartline bounced back from some off weeks with a four-catch, 41 yard effort.
Pittsburgh got its second consecutive victory thanks in no small part to the effort of its former Buckeyes. Will Allen actually led the team in tackles with 7 (5 solo), and Cameron Heyward saw the field at defensive line quite a bit, recording 3 tackles (2 solo). Mike Adams had a strong game too, earning praise from the Steeler blogosphere. Adams did not allow a sack and had strong run blocking effort, springing Jonathan Dwyer for 107 yards on the day.
Elsewhere in the state of Pennsylvania, Kurt Coleman did not have a great week yet again. After his strong start he's been railed on in the media for his play, with advance metrics gurus like Bill Barnwell claiming that he should not be a starter in the NFL anymore. Coleman has put up high tackle numbers, but lately they've been on receivers getting open in the secondary or running backs crashing through the line. Kurt is playing much better in run support than in pass coverage. This week he had eight solo tackles with one pass breakup, but he and his secondary mates had a lot of problems sticking with Atlanta's receivers this week. Maybe firing their defensive coordinator wasn't the spark the Eagles needed.
Elsewhere in the NFC East, Jim Cordle earned a few snaps at Center in the Giants' dramatic victory over the Cowboys. Other than the game being great, there isn't much else to say.
On to the late games: The Saints' defense is not very good, and they struggled mightily against Peyton Manning. (Which makes me terrified, as a Bengal fan, to face him next week.) Malcolm Jenkins put up gaudy tackle numbers leading his team (9 with 8 solo), but again these were mostly on Willis McGahee or Ronnie Hillman at the second level (who both had over 5 yards per carry) or receivers running free in the secondary. Jenkins didn't have any exceptional plays like last week's saving tackle of Vincent Jackson, either. Will Smith had four tackles (three solo) and was otherwise unremarkable.
Finally, last night's game was a romp for the 49ers and their former Buckeye denizens. Donte Whitner actually led the team in solo tackles (what IS it with guys leading their teams in tackles this week?) with seven and zero assists. Alex Boone had one costly facemask penalty in the first quarter, but it didn't end up costing the Niners at all in the end. Overall, Boone has been playing at a Pro Bowl level all season long since he was named the surprise starter. Ted Ginn has also come on in recent weeks, returning both punts and kicks. He broke a 35-yard punt return in this one and seems to be inches from taking one to the house. Larry Grant did not record any special teams statistics.