Sunday Night Football is collectively behind us, and for once, all the Buckeyes in the NFL have already played this week. With no Monday night Buckeyes, we have a full slate to choose from for the weekly award. This week involved some major changes in starting lineups, some first-timers making the list, and some spectacular plays.
We'll start with Thursday night, where Jim Cordle made another start at center for the injury-decimated New York Giants. Cordle had a decent game, considering that the Bears were down a couple of important defensive players, but couldn't keep the pass rush off the edge from getting to Eli Manning and forcing more bad decisions. Cordle is a new starter, and will get better at making line calls as he gains more experience. Big defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins had a nice game with five tackles last week, but was not given the opportunities this past week to have similar production, only playing eight total snaps in a surprise move by the Giants' coaching staff.
Now, onto the early Sunday games. One of the best games of the day involved the Bengals and Bills, two teams looking to prove themselves. The Bengals' offense had a good day against a pretty solid defense, and one of the most exciting plays of the day was a 4th and 15 conversion to none other than Dane Sanzenbacher on a pretty throw down the seam. Solomon Wilcots went so far as to compare Sanzenbacher to a "poor man's Wes Welker" – we'll reserve judgment on that until Dane gets more receptions. Unfortunately, that drive ended in zero points as his Buckeye counterpart Mike Nugent had a made field goal called back by a holding call, and then subsequently missed the next try. Nugent would get another chance, though, as he made the game-winning field goal in overtime to lead the Bengals to victory. Nuge was 2-3 with a 46-yard field goal and three extra points.
Pittsburgh played the New York Jets this week, and the Steelers had two big storylines with good news and bad news for former Buckeyes. The bad: Mike Adams was benched in favor of Kelvin Beachum. The good news: Cameron Heyward earned himself a starting spot on defense, supplanting Ziggy Hood on the Pittsburgh defensive line. Heyward responded with 2 tackles (1 solo) and a QB hit. On the Jets' side, Santonio Holmes was hurt and couldn't go, but the ever-consistent Nick Mangold made yet another start and played decently. The Steelers won, 19-6.
Staying with the AFC North, Green Bay played at Baltimore, and AJ Hawk had his best game in several years. Playing against a depleted Ravens offensive line, Hawk racked up 10 tackles (8 solo), a whopping 5 tackles for loss and three sacks. He even teamed up with another Buckeye, Ryan Pickett, on a tackle of Ray Rice in the backfield. Hawk was a monster all game long – clearly he wanted our award this week. John Simon was inactive for the Ravens.
In Cleveland, Rob Sims recovered from an ugly performance last week for the Lions. Detroit beat Cleveland 31-17, the offensive line only allowed one sack, and Sims helped the Lions average an improved 4.2 yards per carry. Of course, the return of Reggie Bush couldn't have hurt.
Terrelle Pryor, after a nice couple of weeks, had a tough game this Sunday against the Chiefs in Kansas City. In a stadium that was rocking and set a new Guinness world record for crowd noise, beating Seattle's mark with an insane 136.6 decibels, Pryor got beaten up. He threw a nice touchdown pass early on, but as the game went on he got worse and worse. TP was sacked a whopping 10 times (10!!) and threw three interceptions. He still led the Raiders in rushing with 60 yards on 10 carries, but Pryor's offensive line did him no favors. He'll need to bounce back next week after spending an entire day in the cold tub. Chimdi Chekwa was active for Oakland but recorded no statistics.
Poor Ted Glover. His Vikings were crushed by Ted Ginn Jr.'s Panthers this week as the defense was ravaged by injuries. Ginn had only two catches for 22 yards, but he delivered a huge block on a Brandon LaFell touchdown. Yes, you read that correctly. Here it is in GIF form, thanks to @cjzero:
Yikes. Poor Xavier Rhodes. As is becoming tradition, Ben Hartsock played a third TE role for the Panthers but recorded no statistics.
The last early game of the day involved the Rams and Texans, two teams with some Buckeye connections. All three made a contribution in some way. DeVier Posey's was small, making only one catch for 3 yards. It will be interesting to see if he gets more playing time with T.J. Yates potentiall at QB, considering the Texans' season may be shot. On the Rams' side, James Laurinaitis followed up his winning week 5 with a solid performance, making 4 solo tackles (8 assisted) and recovering a fumble. Jake McQuaide continues his long-snapping ways.
To the late games! In Denver, the Jags made it tough on the Broncos for a half. While the Broncos did not cover the spread and played probably their worst game offensively, the Jags offense had similar struggles as center Mike Brewster continued to play in a rotation. We keep expecting Brewster to start, but it hasn't happened yet.
The other "best game of the day" involved the Patriots and Saints. After failing to convert a last-minute chance last week, Tom Brady got another shot and beat the Saints with a TD pass with 5 seconds left on the clock. Nate Ebner again played on special teams for the Pats but did not get any statistics. On the Saints' side, safety Malcolm Jenkins was thrust into the spotlight with Roman Harper out. Jenkins had a whale of a game as he was all over the field, making 8 tackles (3 solo), 1.5 sacks and 2 tackles for loss.
Alex Boone has a knack for being kicked in the face. Last year, the Saints' Brodrick Bunkley gave him the boot, and this week, Cardinals defensive tackle Alameda Ta'amu was seen stepping on Boone's head. Boone was later seen ranting on the sideline about the incident, which was caught on camera and will likely result in a fine for Ta'amu. GIFs of the incident can be found here. Boone also made a tackle on an interception return. In less dramatic action, Donte Whitner (not yet Hitner) made seven tackles (4 solo).
The Washington-Dallas SNF action involved but one former Buckeyes who recorded no stats: DT Doug Worthington for Washington's squad.
Don't forget to vote in the poll for the former Buckeye of the week. This week's winner should be pretty clear – let us know what you think in the comments below.