The NFL is a league of attrition. Whichever team has its best players healthy at the end of the year is usually the team that advances to the playoffs and, barring meeting a team on a roll, wins the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, many former Buckeye heroes have fallen victim to the dreaded injury bug. Offensive stars such as Santonio Holmes have been out since early on in the season, while defensive players such as Kurt Coleman and Malcolm Jenkins have struggled and have been nicked up as of late. Even James Laurinaitis found himself on the injury report this week. Did any former Buckeyes even suit up?!
Starting with the Thursday night game, two former Buckeyes were out with injuries (Kurt Coleman for the Eagles, kicker Mike Nugent for the Bengals) and another one, Cincinnati safety Nate Clements found himself limited because of ineffective play. Clements only was able to muster one tackle, but Boom Herron had a critical punt block an the Bengals got the easy win in a messy game.
Moving over to the NFC, Jim Cordle was active but his Giants were completely shut out by a rampaging Atlanta Falcons squad, 34-0. Elsewhere in the East, Doug Worthington made a triumphant return to the state of Ohio, as his Redskins defeated the Browns. He was active for this game and batted down a Brandon Weeden pass at the line of scrimmage. It's nice to see him catch on in the league.
In the NFC North, the Packers met the Bears in the league's oldest rivalry. Dane Sanzenbacher really should be getting in games now as Devin Hester has played poorly, but he hasn't been active. A.J. Hawk had 5 tackles, while defensive tackle Ryan Pickett had four for the Packers as they defeated their ancient rivals.
The matchup with the biggest former Buckeye names took place in St. Louis, involving the Vikings and Rams. On the Vikings' side, Michael Jenkins had a catch for 11 yards and Antoine Winfield, who continues to be an ageless wonder, had 3 tackles and a pass defensed. James Laurinaitis was questionable for the Rams, but started and contributed 6 solo stops. He is now #5 on the list of leading tacklers in the NFL. Jake McQuaide, as the refrain goes - sing it with me! - still has not had a bad snap all year. The Vikings came up on the winning end.
In the NFC South, Malcolm Jenkins was out for the Saints but they rolled over the Buccaneers anyway. Will Smith had a sack and had 5 (!!!) hits on Tampa quarterback Josh Freeman. He terrorized the Bucs' O-line all day as the Saints destroyed Tampa, 41-0.
Going back to the AFC for a second, the Dolphins and Jaguars met up in the "Henne Bowl". However, a former Buckeye star outshined Henne (as it should be) when Brian Hartline caught 5 passes for 77 yards, continuing his breakout year. Michael Brewster and the rest of his line-mates struggled to create a push up front for the Jags as they were stuffed on multiple occasions, including a 4th-and-1 deep in Miami territory.
To the late games - away! Matthew Stafford had a horrible game and Chris Wells' Cardinals beat up on the Lions in a shocker, 38-10. Wells had the best game statistically of any Buckeye in a nice bounce-back game, with 17 carries for 67 yards and three touchdowns. This game might have earned him a chance with another team next year. Rob Sims struggled all game long along with the rest of his line and it really was shocking to see the Cardinals score 38 points in any way.
Special shout out to former Buckeyes wide receiver DeVier Posey. DeVier had the best game of his young NFL career recording 3 catches for 46 yards including a career long 36 yard snag. Those of you homers with Posey on the bench in your Dynasty Leagues have been rewarded for your diligence. Posey may even be in consideration for additional targets once/if the Texans lock up home field throughout the playoffs and elect to rest the likes of Andre Johnson. Keep an eye out for #11.
Ben Hartsock (yes, Ben Hartsock) had a reception for Carolina this week against the San Diego Chargers in a blowout victory. Good for him to get his second catch of the year. Elsewhere in the second-biggest cross-conference matchup of the week, the Steelers' three former Buckeyes contributed very little, as Demarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer dominated Mike Adams, who is still struggling with an ankle injury suffered against Cleveland back in November. Will Allen and Cameron Heyward contributed a solo special teams tackle each.
In the last two night games, San Francisco was surprisingly dominant in the Sunday night matchup against Nate Ebner's Patriots in a game that wasn't as close as the score indicated, as the Niners took their foot off the gas. Ebner contributed a special-teams stop for the Pats. On the other side, Ted Ginn Jr had a relatively unremarkable game returning punts (3 for 15 yards) except for a did-he-or-didn't-he play where it looked like he may have touched a punt that could have been a huge turnover, but wasn't. Alex Boone again continued to open up holes for Kaepernick, Gore and LaMichael James, as the Niners rushed for 180 yards total. We even had a Larry Grant sighting, with one tackle for him on special teams.
In the Monday Night game, the New York Jets were mercifully eliminated from playoff contention as Nick Mangold's squad was beaten by a terrible Titans team, 14-10, in a game that this humble writer had to turn off due to the shoddy play.
This may be the time of year where we see more backup Buckeyes on bad teams. Inactive Buckeyes included Brian Robiskie (Lions). Austin Spitler and Anderson Russell made no statistical contributions for Miami.