We had some darn fine games in the NFL this weekend, and some former Ohio State stars put forth topnotch performances this week. Others, well, not so much. But we'll be sure to go over all of them either way. Let's jump right in; the water looks almost comfortable and totally not as shark-infested as Brandon Allen's pocket against Alabama.
We'll start off with the "Battle of Ohio", where, for a day, Buckeye fans across the state were divided brother against brother in probably the most "meh" division in-state rivalry in sports. Seriously, most Bengals and Browns fans can't really bring themselves to hate each other; it's a mutual pity, if anything. The two fan bases can console themselves with "Hey, at least we're not Cleveland/Cincinnati!" and see no irony in the statement. But I digress. Mike Nugent was one of two former Buckeyes to play in this titanic struggle, and contributed to the Bengals' victory (YAHOO) with 2 field goals and 4 extra points. Nugent's Golden Toe continues to be a thing here in the hearts of Bengaldom. Additionally, Nate Clements recorded 8 tackles and four solo stops. He continues to be a physical force at corner, laying a solid form tackle on Browns star rookie Trent Richardson late in the first half.
Staying in the AFC North, all three former Buckeyes who are currently Pittsburgh Steelers started on the bench against the Jets. Safety Will Allen, despite Troy Polamalu's injury, did not record a statistic. Neither did tackle Mike Adams. Cameron Heyward, however, recorded a giant sack of Mark Sanchez in the second half. It was his only stat on the day, but it was a big one for the 3-4 defensive end. On the Jets' side, Nick Mangold started at center and held the Steelers' defense at bay for a half until the offense began to sputter. Santonio Holmes had an average day, recording three catches for 28 yards and a first-half touchdown on a quick slant.
Moving on to another former star wide receiver: Brian Hartline had a heck of a game against the Raiders on Sunday, recording 9 catches for 111 yards and finishing 5th in the NFL in total receiving yards this week pending the outcome of Monday night's game. His quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, played a good game and looked for Hartline all day. He had as many catches as all the other Dolphins combined, and it may be that Tannehill is beginning to look at Hartline as his #1 option. Terrelle Pryor, again, did not record a snap for the Raiders.
In other early contests, Minnesota got a big lift from two veteran Buckeyes. Corner Antoine Winfield finished with 8 tackles (6 solo) in the loss to Andrew Luck's Colts, and Michael Jenkins grabbed 5 catches. Staying in the NFC North, which is tied for having the most former Buckeyes of any division in the NFL, wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher sat out of the Bears-Packers game, as did Brandon Saine for the Packers. AJ Hawk and Ryan Pickett, weirdly enough, recorded identical defensive stat lines: 5 tackles, 2 solo, 1 tackle for loss and one hit on the quarterback. Let's just say that doesn't happen very often.
The Sunday Night game pitted the Lions against the 49ers and featured the most former Buckeyes of any game this week. Alex Boone started at right guard and played with a chip on his shoulder the whole game, frustrating Cliff Avril all night. On the opposite offensive line, Rob Sims struggled with Justin Smith's penetration all night. Defensively, Donte Whitner contributed with three solo tackles. Ted Ginn was inactive again, as was linebacker Larry Grant for the 49ers.
In the NFC West, which is the division tied with the NFC North for the most Buckeyes, the Arizona Cardinals pulled a huge upset against the Patriots. Chris Wells struggled again with 14 carries for 44 yards, but the rest of the running game was just as bad as the Cards pulled the upset with special teams and defense. The Rams got a big win against RGIII and the Redskins. James Laurinaitis was chasing Alfred Morris and RGIII all night long, and led his defense in solo and total tackles with 8 and 10, respectively. Jake McQuaide continues to start at long snapper as well.
The Saints have struggled so far this season, but Malcolm Jenkins and Will Smith were the biggest statistical contributors on defense this week. Jenkins made 10 tackles with 8 solo, but this could have been due to Cam Newton targeting the hybrid corner-safety all day. Smith contributed 3 solo tackles from his defensive end spot, adding four helpers for a total of seven. On the other side, Chris Gamble contributed 7 tackles (4 solo) and a pass breakup in the Panthers' big win. Ben Hartsock did not record any statistics.
Kurt Coleman had another big week this week for the Eagles, with seven tackles (5 solo).
Players who were inactive and/or did not record a statistic were: Jim Cordle (Giants), Michael Brewster and Brian Robiskie (Jaguars), DeVier Posey (Texans) and Austin Spitler (Dolphins).
Who was the best former Buckeye this week?