This past Sunday was a tough one for a number of former scarlet-and-gray heroes. Even before Week 14 started, the production of one Buckeye folk legend took a hit when Mike Nugent pulled up lame with a strained calf aggravated in practice on Wednesday. Maybe if Mike Brown wasn't too cheap to build an indoor practice bubble for the Bengals like everyone else in the league has, cold weather strains like this wouldn't happen...but I digress. The Bengals, sans Nugent and with corner Nate Clements struggling to find playing time (1 tackle and a pass defensed, an improvement over the last two weeks), lost a heartbreaker to Dallas in which they blew a 9 point 4th quarter lead to a team inspired by the tragic loss of one of their own.
Elsewhere in the AFC North, the Steelers also suffered a loss to the Chargers ("thank goodness," said much of Ohio) in which Ben Roethlisberger was beaten up for 2 sacks and 4 hits. Mike Adams didn't help his cause much, consistently losing one-on-one battles. Will Allen and Cameron Heyward had a solo tackle each, with Heyward also putting in a nice shot on Philip Rivers early in the game.
Staying in the AFC, two former Buckeye star centers faced off in the Jets-Jaguars matchup as Nick Mangold faced his successor, Michael Brewster (who now starts at guard for the Jags). Mangold's Jets came out on top, but it was interesting to note that both star centers are now NFL starters despite the wide disparity between when their respective NFL Draft fates (Mangold a 1st rounder, Brewster not drafted at all).
Elsewhere in the AFC East, the Dolphins faced the 49ers in the game of the week for Buckeye fans. However, the game and the performances of all the Buckeyes featured were largely underwhelming. Brian Hartline had only 2 catches for the Dolphins and Austin Spitler only recorded one assisted tackle, while safety Anderson Russell did not play. On the Niners' side, safety Donte Whitner recorded two tackles (4 assisted) and a pass defensed, while Ted Ginn Jr contributed one kickoff return for 12 yards and was supplanted by LaMichael James on punt returns. Alex Boone struggled in pass protection as the Niners' offensive line gave up four sacks, but played well in the running game, road-grading the Fins' 3-4 tackles and ends and getting one big block to spring The Angry Ostrich (H/T SI's own Holly Anderson for Colin Kaepernick's nickname) on a fifty-yard touchdown run.
James Laurinaitis and the Rams got a 15-12 victory over Buffalo, in which Laurinaitis contributed a season-low three tackles and had one pass defensed. The St. Louis defensive line was dominant all day, hardly allowing Bills running backs to get to the second level all day. Jake McQuaide still not has had one bad snap all year, and has contributed to star kicker Greg Zuerlein's breakout rookie year.
Also going down in the NFC, Michael Jenkins was the Vikings' leading wide receiver in their win over the Bears, with four catches for 36 yards. Antoine Winfield also contributed three solo tackles, a tackle for loss, and two passes defensed against a struggling Jay Cutler. Dane Sanzenbacher was again inactive – it remains to be seen if he'll get on the field this season or stay in the Bears' long term plans. In the other NFC North tilt on Sunday night, AJ Hawk's Packers defeated Rob Sims' Lions. Sims had a beautiful game run-blocking and did not allow a sack, stone-walling the Packers' defensive line all night. He probably had the best game of any former Buckeye. Unfortunately it was all for naught as their defense could not stop the Packers and Matthew Stafford made critical errors as the Lions squandered a 14 point lead in a 27-20 loss. AJ Hawk contributed 8 tackles and four solo stops, while Ryan Pickett was right behind him on the stat sheet with 6 tackles (3 solo).
Taking a trip around the NFC East, Kurt Coleman was declared inactive as mentioned for the Eagles' victory against the Buccaneers. Doug Worthington was on the roster but did not record a statistic in the Redskins' big overtime victory (led by none other than Kirk Cousins) against the Baltimore Ravens. Finally, Jim Cordle's New York Giants put a hurting on the Saints, who lost more than the game - they lost starting safety and former Buckeye All-American Malcolm Jenkins to a right leg injury. He did not record a statistic. Also for the Saints, Will Smith had two tackles, a tackle for loss and a hit on the quarterback. He also had two quarterback pressures.
The Arizona offense was putrid, and it showed on the scoreboard as they were blown out 58-0 by the Seahawks. Chris Wells had six carries for 18 yards and has continued to disappoint people in Arizona. It is highly likely that he will be looking for a job this offseason, along with his coach and probably the rest of the team.
Other inactive and non stat-recording Bucks: Terrelle Pryor (Raiders), Brian Robiskie (Lions), Chris Gamble and Ben Hartsock (Panthers), Santonio Holmes (Jets), Larry Grant (San Francisco), Jake Ballard and Nate Ebner (Patriots), and DeVier Posey (Texans). Let's hope the injured Buckeyes come back strong next week.