Defensive and Special Teams Touchdowns Highlight Pac-12 NFL Upside
In this week’s edition, we were graced with incredible play. Vita Vea impressed last week, but week 13 was a treat for football fans! Trick plays, blocked kicks, and unbelievable defensive plays highlight the Pac-12 NFL Players Week 13.
The Big List of Pac-12 NFL Performers, College by College
Dane Cruikshank – Tennessee Titans
With 5 minutes remaining in a tied game, the Indianapolis Colts lined up to take the lead. That field goal would give them a 20-17 lead over the Titans. However, Dane Cruikshank thwarted their plans.
Although Cruikshank is primarily a special teams player, he’s made his mark. Players dream of blocking a single kick, let alone two in one season. For his special teams efforts, he climbs to the top of Arizona’s Pac-12 NFL bests.
Matt Haack – Miami Dolphins
Obviously, this wasn’t the best play in NFL history. But, it made for an insane highlight and contributed to a huge upset. How are these Miami Dolphins 3-and-9 and beating teams like the Philadelphia Eagles?
With this touchdown pass, Matt Haack and Jason Sanders etched their names in the record books. This was the first time in NFL history that a pure punter completed a touchdown pass to a kicker. Unbelievable!
Cameron Jordan – New Orleans Saints
Cameron Jordan is a wrecking ball. His four sacks against the Atlanta Falcons tied a Saints record for sacks in a game. Wayne Martin, in 1997, was the last Saints player to accomplish this feat.
After this monster performance, Jordan set his career-best in sacks (13.5). His 87.3 PFF grade is creeping up to elite once again. If he continues his dominance, he’ll decisively be Cal’s 2019 best Pac-12 NFL player.
Jimmy Smith – Baltimore Ravens
Against the San Francisco 49ers, Jimmy Smith allowed just 3 receptions for 38 scoreless yards on 6 targets. It was another shut-down game for him.
Since returning from injury, Smith is playing at an exceptional level. His plus-33.7 Coverage Rating and 52-percent Catch Rate Allowed are exactly what the Ravens needed. Combined with the current form of Marcus Peters and you’ve got a Super Bowl secondary.
DeForest Buckner – San Francisco 49ers
In a potential Super Bowl preview, DeForest Buckner and the 49ers held Lamar Jackson’s Ravens to just 20 points. In the game, Buckner played 83-percent of snaps and totaled six tackles.
Also, Buckner got the credit for one sack against Lamar Jackson. As everyone is aware, Jackson is the most elusive quarterback in the league. Getting him down is always worth recognition. Great performance by this Pac-12 NFL player.
Jordan Poyer – Buffalo Bills
On Thanksgiving Day, the Buffalo Bills feasted on the Dallas Cowboys. Their defense held the Cowboys to just 15 points. Although he ended up compiling 355 yards and two touchdowns, he did so on 49 attempts. In addition, the Bills sacked Prescott four times and intercepted him once.
At AT&T Stadium, Jordan Poyer did his regular thing. He totaled five tackles, including stuffing one run. His 73.0 PFF grade displays his contribution to pass and run defense.
Richard Sherman – San Francisco 49ers
Right now, Richard Sherman is playing incredible football. At age 31, his form is perfect as he and the San Francisco 49ers vie for the NFC West.
Against Baltimore Ravens, Sherman not only locked down coverage but tallied seven tackles. His tackling will always be an underrated aspect of his game. Even though Richard Sherman is credited with 20 receptions allowed, he only let receivers gain 105 yards. Unreal. His close-down ability and tackling is most impressive.
Also, of note is Richard Sherman’s off-the-field work.
Fabian Moreau – Washington Redskins
Since Josh Norman’s injury, Fabian Moreau has played exceptionally. Moving him from the slot corner to outside corner was a great move.
In his last two games, Moreau has three interceptions. He’s exactly the type of developmental player Washington needs for their future.
Robert Woods – Los Angeles Rams
After starting off the season slow, Robert Woods is heating up during the Rams playoff push. His last three games include:
- 7 receptions for 95 yards
- 6 receptions for 97 yards
- 13 receptions for 172 yards
Against Arizona, Woods torched the coverage. He now has 835 yards and looks to surpass 1,000 yards for the second time in his career.
Marcus Williams – New Orleans Saints
Although Star Lotolelei got his first career interception, Marcus Williams still remains the best Pac-12 NFL player out of Utah. On the season, he’s allowed just 9 receptions on 17 targets, while also intercepting four passes.
Additionally, Williams is a sure-tackler. He managed seven tackles against the Atlanta Falcons. His 91.0 PFF grade displays an elite safety and the Saints are lucky to have him.
Taylor Rapp – Los Angeles Rams
He could. Go. All. The. Way!
Welcome to the big leagues Taylor Rapp! In a dominant win against Arizona, Rapp earned his first career interception and touchdown. He now totals 47 tackles, 7 pass break-ups, 4 stuffed runs, and one pick-six. Rapp has a bright future ahead of him.
Gardner Minshew – Jacksonville Jaguars
The mustache is back! In everyone’s best interest, Gardner Minshew is once again the starting quarterback of the Jaguars. After Nick Foles committed his third turnover in three drives, the crowd chanted “We want Minshew.”
While Minshew couldn’t lift the Jaguars to a victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he’ll look to beat the Los Angeles Chargers this weekend.