Ohio State is now officially the champion of the Big Ten East, and will face off against Wisconsin for the conference title. Once the rainy action from Saturday’s Senior Day had dissipated, focus shifted to Beat Michigan Week. While Columbus started preparing to take on the Wolverines, former Ohio State players in the NFL continued their campaigns for postseason honors.
From the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award to Defensive Rookie of the Year, there should be many Buckeyes receiving some hardware at the end of the season. It’s not just individual awards either, fan voting is now open for the 2018 Pro Bowl, and there are 20 Buckeyes you can vote for on the ballot.
Here’s how Buckeyes in the NFL fared in Week 11:
Sunday Night Football
One of the NFL’s biggest rivalries went down on primetime in Week 11 on Sunday Night Football when the Dallas Cowboys (Noah Brown, Mike Nugent, Rod Smith — still no Ezekiel Elliott) hosted the Philadelphia Eagles (Malcolm Jenkins). The matchup was filled with inconsistent play from both teams early on, but the Eagles came out of halftime hungry, and they feasted, winning 37-9.
After the Cowboys offense struggled to get things going a couple plays into their second-drive, they got the ball to rookie Noah Brown for a 14-yard first down. That was the only catch for the Buckeye wideout on Sunday, but he did have a couple key blocks in a tough game for Dallas. With Elliott suspended, another Buckeyes rusher, Rod Smith, was expected to see some additional touches. In Week 11, he had eight carries for 11 yards — but the Cowboys offense has a whole didn’t do much.
In an ode to his time at Ohio State, kicker Mike Nugent was the sole reason Dallas put any points on the board Sunday, making 3-of-3 field goal kicks for nine points.
The Eagles already lead the NFC East — and the entire league for the matter — and are on their way to a postseason run that could end up resembling their 2004 Super Bowl stretch. Leading the team, both on the field and in the locker room, Buckeye Malcolm Jenkins has been a positive contributor to the Philadelphia secondary, the national protest conversation and every community in which he’s played, including Columbus.
Heading into Week 11’s rivalry game, Jenkins had claimed 47 total tackles (42 solo) — with a game-high 10 tackles against Washington in late-October — along with five pass breakups and one sack. On Sunday, he recorded his first interception of the 2017 season, along with four total tackles and two pass breakups.
His stat line hasn’t been particularly noteworthy this season, but that’s where box-score analysis can be misleading. Jenkins flies all over the field and is an absolute terror on the outside. More than that, he leads a very young group of defensive backs and safeties for the Eagles, and his tutelage has made a lot of those guys better throughout the season. Jenkins lines up at four different positions for the Eagles secondary and rarely misses a snap.
I would have to say @MalcolmJenkins !!! I sat beside him in meetings everyday. I learned a lot. He's the vocal leader, he knows the entire defense, and plays with so much passion and energy. He also brings the same energy to practice day in and day out— Earl Wolff (@Ewolff28) November 20, 2017
Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award
The nominees for the fourth annual Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award were announced earlier in the week, and the Steelers’ selection was former Buckeye DE Cameron Heyward.
Players are chosen for exemplifying outstanding sportsmanship on the field. The award is presented each year to an NFL player who best demonstrates the qualities of on-field sportsmanship, including fair play, respect for the game and opponents, and integrity in competition.
The winner will be announced during the NFL Honors show on Saturday, February 3 on NBC (the night before Super Bowl LII). The winner will receive a $25,000 donation from the NFL Foundation to a charity of his choice and a trophy.
Heyward continues to be a pillar for the Steelers defense, just this week claiming his second two-sack game of the season on Thursday night against the Titans. Not only did he help Pittsburgh have their first 4 interception, 5 sack game since 1984, but he now has a total of 7.0 sacks on the season — along with 32 total tackles, five stuffs and one forced fumble.
Just a year after another Buckeye claimed the Defensive Rookie of the Year postseason honor -- Joey Bosa — the list of candidates once again includes a former Ohio State player: Marshon Lattimore.
Contributing to one of the more productive rookie classes in the NFL this season, according to Danny Kelly of The Ringer, New Orleans’ first-round draft pick has already proven himself to be worth the top choice. In just over half of a season in the league, Lattimore has earned a reputation as one of the better shutdown corners in the NFL, forcing opposing quarterbacks to a combined 42.3 passer rating when targeting receivers covered by the Buckeye rookie.
You know about what Marshon Lattimore has done in coverage, but how about as a tackler?— Jon Ledyard (@LedyardNFLDraft) November 16, 2017
Last year at Ohio State he missed zero of the solo tackles he attempted.
This year with the #Saints, Lattimore hasn't missed a tackle yet and leads the team in solo tackles with 31.
Play of the Week
(I might as well re-name this section Bosa sack of the Week.) It’s Week 11, and with several records already surpassed, and having already sent some gear to Canton for display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Joey Bosa continues to terrorize quarterbacks. The Buckeye didn’t just get another sack on Sunday against Buffalo, he also forced a fumble setting up a scoop and score by his teammate to extend their lead.
- This week’s Monday Night Football matchup only features one Buckeye when the Seattle Seahawks (Nick Vannett) take on the Atlanta Falcons.
- The NFL continued it’s international series in Mexico City in Week 11, when the New England Patriots (Nate Ebner) faced off against the Oakland Raiders.
Patriots look like Ohio State did yesterday....That makes the Raiders the Fighting Illini...— Steve Levy (@espnSteveLevy) November 19, 2017
- Saints safety Vonn Bell had a career-high 13 total tackles in Sunday’s overtime win against Washington — not to mention, a sack and forced fumble.
- Just two weeks after being pulled up to the active roster, the Indianapolis Colts waived second-year linebacker Joshua Perry — the Buckeye was able to make it to Ohio Stadium on Saturday though, for Senior Day, so that’s a little but of a silver lining.
- Panthers’ safety Kurt Coleman was fined just under $25k by the league for his Week 9 hit against Devonte Freeman, but the Buckeye plans to appeal.
- Speaking of appeal... the Ezekiel Elliott suspension-saga is now over. The running back phenom has decided to drop his appeal and serve the remaining games under his six-game suspension. He’ll be back on the field for the Dallas Cowboys in Week 16 against the Seahawks.
Injury Report and Inactives
- Bad news for Buckeye rookie Curtis Samuel. After a slow start to his NFL career with the Carolina Panthers, thanks to lingering injuries, he’s now out for the remainder for the year after suffering ligament damage in his left ankle during last week’s game.
- After missing most of the season, the Oakland Raiders finally placed Gareon Conley on IR this week, due to a lingering shin injury that just wouldn’t shake.
- Washington listed Terrelle Pryor Sr. as inactive on Sunday; the receiver had been having issues with ankles throughout the week, leading up to the missed game. Also out this week, was Broncos tight end Jeff Heuerman, who missed practice during the week with an knee injury.
- Giants CB Eli Apple was inactive in Week 11, as he tended to his Mom, Annie Apple, following brain surgery this week. (We’re wishing the fabulous Annie a speedy recovery!)
Which Buckeyes are on a bye?
- The Week 11 bye week gives four teams a much-needed break, including the Carolina Panthers (Kurt Coleman, Andrew Norwell), Indianapolis Colts (Johnathan Hankins, John Simon), New York Jets (Darron Lee) and San Francisco 49ers (Carlos Hyde).
- Speaking of Carlos Hyde, the legendary Ohio State running back didn’t have the easiest path to his collegiate and NFL success, but it all started with a decision he made at 15 years old: