Terrelle Pryor recorded his first career NFL catch Sunday. - Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
The NFL season is now but one week of action away from one of the most exciting post seasons in all of professional sports. How did the former Buckeyes populating the league fare?
We've officially reached the time of the National Football League schedule where Thursday Night Football is a thing of the past. And while myself, Eric, and a number of the other guys on staff love us some pro football (wuddup, LBJ High School Dynasty League 3rd place finishers "McKayla Maroney is not impressed"?!), it really feels like the NFL has dropped the ball this season with respect to Thursday Night Football.
While surely not everyone out there reading this has an economics degree from the school for which we all cheer, there's a basic concept called "the law of diminishing returns" which sums things up pretty well. To put it as understandably as possible, imagine you have a pizza. If you eat one piece of pizza, you're feeling pretty good and man, that Adriatico's really hit the spot. You eat a second piece of pizza, and hot dang, it's going down so smooth, you guys. Then you eat a third piece of pizza and you're *probably* good but those first three were so good you could probably go for four. You slam that fourth one and man are you stuffed. But it's a happy stuffed. So you probably just gained two pounds? YOLO, etc. But no one's touching the rest of that delicious south campus pizza goodness and no matter how good it is reheated, it's always better fresh so what the hey. You eat piece number five. Instantaneously you're so full you're sick. You mull puking it but you don't want to waste the delicious goodness you just paid $13 (plus tip) for. But now your kid brother is making fun of you. He works out a lot and he slammed six pieces like it was nothing. Your manhood is at stake. You eat a SIXTH piece of pizza, even though you didn't have room for the last two. You spend the next 10 minutes praying to the porcelain gods and swearing off Adriatico's for good... or at least until next Sunday's NFL action.
That's essentially what the NFL has done with Thursday night football. 8 games felt pretty good. Even though most of us around these parts are big time general college football devotees, if the matchup was good enough, you'd totally move TV #2 into the living room (or just stream the college game on WatchESPN). But now that the league has gone to 13 games, it's not just like they flirted with the grey area and wound up on the wrong side. They went from 3 pieces of pizza to 6 pieces in one foul swoop. And the result is me missing NFL games I'd otherwise like and enjoying the ones I do watch a tiny bit less. Hopefully the league sees the error in their ways and course corrects in the coming season (given their love of money, don't bet on it).
So what about the Buckeyes around the NFL? Let's start in St Louis, where James Laurinaitis continues to do big things week in, week out. Any of you with individual defender fantasy football leagues probably know the inherent value JL55 brings to the table week in, week out. Even with the transition of going from the relative instability of the Steve Spagnuolo-era to former Super Bowl runner up coach, Jeff Fisher, JL continues to be a steadying hand on a much improved Rams D. Yesterday afternoon's NFC clash with the Tamp Bay Buccaneers proved to be no exception. JL would finish the afternoon with 10 tackles as a well as an interception in the team's definitive 28-13 victory over the Bucs. Poor Josh Freeman's completely melted down in the past two weeks (much to the chagrin of those amongst us with them on their fantasy teams during playoff time).
St Louis is considered the gateway to the west and accordingly the Rams occupy a spot in what was for the longest time mocked as the NFL 'Worst'. The division's no joke now, however, with arguably two of the leagues best teams in Seattle and San Francisco serving as two of the standard bearers in the NFC. The Seahawks changed the entire complexion of the NFC playoff picture last night but completely taking it to the divisional rival Niners, 42-13. While the Seahawks are devoid of any Buckeye representation, the Niners check in as one of the deepest teams with OSU alums in the league. Ted Ginn Jr saw action on punt return, but called far catch the lone opportunity he had to return. Donte Whitner considered a revitalized second moment in the Bay Area adding 4 tackles (and an assist). He also nearly had an interception on a Russell Wilson deep strike attempt. Alex Boone continued to make an impact starting at guard for the Niners while former OSU linebacker Larry Allen did not record a statistic last night.
Sticking in the NFC West, Beanie Wells continued the comeback in an injury shortened year for him. He had four rushes for just 3 yards in the Cards' 28-13 loss to Chicago, continuing a long season for both he and Arizona. Dane Sanzenbacher was inactive for the victorious Bears. Shifting gears to Chicago's division, the Green Bay Packers are another team ripe with formerly Central Ohio educated professional football players. A.J. Hawk recorded 6 tackles and long time vet Ryan Pickett added one in Green Bay's emphatic 55-7 demolishing of Tennessee. Staying in the NFC North, the Minnesota Vikings went deep into the heart of Texas and absolutely prayed on the team battling for the AFC's #1 seed, the Houston Texans. Michael Jenkins caught two passes from the newly wed Christian Ponder for 41 yards and Antoine Winfield, the former all-everything corner from Ohio State who's finishing his career at free safety, added five tackles in the 23-6 victory over the Texans. DeVier Posey had his fourth catch of the year in the losing effort, one for 6 yards late in the contest.
Finishing things up in the AFC, Cameron Heyward and the Steelers are staying home this post season after falling to Cincinnati on a field goal with 4 seconds to play, 13-10 Heyward finished with one tackle during the game. Terrelle Pryor saw increased action as the Raiders' season remains pretty much a done deal, completing his lone pass attempt for 5 yards, rushing once for just 2 yards (on a play he probably could've gotten a dozen plus at Ohio State) and then in a zany double pass scenario, caught a 22 yard pass during the Raiders' 17-6 loss to Carolina. TE Ben Hartsock was active for the Panthers but had no targets and no catches. Former TP dissident Brian Hartline was expected to be on the receiving end of an increased pass load Sunday, but had to settle for just two catches for 12 yards in a 24-10 victory over the hapless Buffalo Bills.
And last but certainly not least, Kurt Coleman had three tackles in a razor close 27-20 loss to divisional foe Washington. Doug Worthington saw action for the victorious Redskins but failed to record a statistic. Michael Brewster saw actions for the Jaguars in their 23-16 loss to New England and Nate Ebner saw action on special teams but failed to record a tackle. Rob Sims also played for the Lions in their humbling 31-18 loss to NFC one seed Atlanta and Will Smith got in on the Saints' 34-31 OT victory over the Cowboys but besides a quarterback hit, had no recorded statistics. Nick Mangold dutifully helped bring the Jets' season closer to a mercy kill one snap at a time to new quarterback Greg McElroy in their 27-17 loss to San Diego.