By Juan Lozano and Marc Harper | September 23, 2020
This is our weekly column where we highlight those players that were instrumental in their team’s victory but whose contribution didn’t show up in the stat sheet or their contributions were completely unexpected.
We are calling this the “WOW” or “Winners of the Week”.
This is our “WOW” for Week 2.
Bengals @ Browns – Cleveland OL
- The Browns offensive line was going up against an overmatched Cincinnati Bengals defensive line that was without defensive tackle Geno Atkins. But let’s give credit where it is due. The Browns offensive line dominated and pushed the line of scrimmage back a number of yards on each running play. Cleveland ran for 215 yards (6.1 yards per carry) and made sure that quarterback Baker Mayfield was not sacked all night.
Jaguars @ Titans– Kristian Fulton (CB)- @Kriss1_
- This was a strange high-scoring game in which neither offense played particularly well. But Kristian Fulton continued a day of rookies making plays with his first interception, returning it 44 yards to set up a Titans Touchdown. On a day in which Derrick Henry only managed 84 yards on 25 attempts, giving the offense a short field was the key to the victory.
Carolina @ Tampa Bay- Carlton Davis (CB)- @Carlton_Lowkey
- The third-year player from Auburn was one of the few bright spots for the Bucs in their week 1 loss against the Saints while matching up against Michael Thomas. In week 2, after his team had blown a 21-point lead, he intercepted Teddy Bridgewater around midfield while the Panthers were driving to tie the game early in the 4th quarter. The Bucs would go onto ice the game with a field goal off the turnover. While most of the attention is on the Buccaneers offense with the addition of Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, and Leonard Fournette, the Bucs quietly forced 4 key turnovers to help the team win.
Broncos @ Steelers– Diontae Johnson (WR)- @Juiceup__3
- The Steelers put on a strong defensive performance against the offensively-challenged Denver Broncos and finished with two turnovers, seven sacks, and 11 tackles for losses.
- The Pittsburgh offense is another story as they struggled most of the day. The Steelers were able to pull out this victory due to the contributions of second-year wide receiver Diontae Johnson, a third-round draft pick of Pittsburgh in 2019 out of The University of Toledo.
- Johnson hauled in eight catches for 92 yards and a touchdown in the victory. He also had a punt return touchdown negated by penalty. His special teams play should come as no surprise as he was MAC Special Teams Player of the Year in 2018.
- We are just seeing the beginning of what he can do. He’s quietly emerging as Ben Roethlisberger’s favorite target.
Rams @ Eagles- Tyler Higbee (TE)- @ty_higs19
- This week was a good week for Tight Ends. Higbee was no exception against an Eagles team that could not stop him. Higbee caught all five targets for 54 yards and a score. There is always a lot of talk about Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods, and rightfully so, but Higbee has certainly proved himself as a weapon for Sean McVay. He is a matchup problem. Higbee provided a spark for an offense that lost Malcom Brown and Cam Akers during the game.
49ers @ NY Jets: Jordan Reed (TE)- @JR86
- It was a costly victory for the 49ers who suffered the loss of various key players in their win over the moribund Jets.
- Tight end Jordan Reed, a late off-season acquisition stepped up for the 49ers injured tight end George Kittle and hauled in seven passes for 50 yards and two touchdowns to put the game out of reach.
Bills @ Dolphins- Ed Oliver (DT)- @Edoliver_11
- The Bills are the favorites to win the AFC East, while the Dolphins are rebuilding. That didn’t mean this game wasn’t close, and a crucial goal line stand midway through the 3rd quarter helped propel the Bills to victory. On first-and-goal from the one, Ed Oliver, fought off a block to tackle Jordan Howard in the backfield. The Dolphins would turn the ball over on downs despite running four plays from the one-yard line in large part because of Oliver’s play on the line. He had an otherwise strong day, despite briefly leaving with injury, notching 4 tackles and one sack on the day.
Vikings @ Colts- Jonathan Taylor (RB)- @JayT23
- Both the Colts and the Vikings entered the game having lost the season opener. Colts running back Marlon Mack is out for the season due to injury. Enter rookie running back Jonathan Taylor who carried the ball 26 times for 101 yards and 1 score.
- Taylor’s efforts were instrumental in keeping the Colts on the field as they had a nearly 17-minute time of possession advantage.
Lions @ Green Bay– Aaron Jones (RB)- @Showtyme_33
- We try to stay away from picking well known players in this list. It’s supposed to be a list of unheralded players making big-time plays. And while we could have named Chandon Sullivan, the third-year player from Georgia State, for a pick-6 that ensured the route was on, we have to mention Aaron Jones. He touched the ball 22 times, gained 236 yards and scored 3 TD. If that’s not doing everything you can to help your team win, I’m not sure what is.
Falcons @ Cowboys– Dalton Schultz (TE)- @BinghamBaller9
- Can we give this award to the Falcons? Maybe their special teams coach? Maybe Julio for dropping a walk-in touchdown? Instead, we will give this to Dalton Schultz, the third-year player from Stanford University. In his previous two seasons, Schultz recorded only 13 catches for 122 yards. On Sunday, he caught nine of 10 targets for 88 yards and a TD while filling in for Blake Jarwin. Even though the Cowboys are stacked at WR, Schultz still managed to lead the team in receiving, and provided a nice spark in keeping up with a Falcons team determined to blow another large lead.
NY Giants @ Bears– Bobby Massie (OL)- @MrBig434
- Massie is an NFL veteran offensive lineman that has played over 100 games for two franchises that have won more games that they have lost since he has been on their rosters (Cardinals and Bears).
- The only time you ever really hear an offensive lineman’s name is when they make an error and it gets pointed out by the broadcast crew. Even when they have a dominating game, you rarely hear of their accomplishments.
- On Sunday, Massie saved the Bears by catching a tipped ball on 4th & 2 at the Giants 36-yard line with 3:58 remaining in the game. Massie’s catch kept the drive alive, they took nearly two minutes off the clock and they didn’t have to turn the ball over. The drive ended when kicker Cairo. Santos missed a 50 -yard field goal attempt.
- The Giants drove to the Bears 10-yard line but their comeback attempt fell short.
Washington @ Arizona -Jordan Phillips (DT)- @bigj9797
- Jordan Phillips is with his third team in a career that started in 2015 as a second round draft pick.
- On Sunday, he made probably the best play of his career to this point. With 4:22 remaining in the first quarter, Phillips strip sacked Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins at the Arizona 9- yard line. At this point, Arizona had a 7-0 lead, but Washington had the ball back in Arizona territory after a Kyler Murray interception. Washington had the opportunity to tie the game but would never come closer to making this game competitive.
Chiefs @ Chargers- L’Jarius Sneed (CB)- @jay__sneed
- It’s almost not fair to the rest of NFL that the defending champs are getting big play after big play from their rookies. A fourth-round cornerback, Snead intercepted Justin Herbert at the 5-yard line late in the 3rd quarter. Up 17-9 and driving, the Chargers were looking for an opportunity to put the game out of reach (or as close to out of reach as possible against the Chiefs), and this big interception turned the game around. Six plays later the game was tied, and the Chiefs were back in it.
Ravens @ Texans- L.J. Fort (LB)- @i_Serve24
- Fort, an undrafted player out of Northern Iowa is with his 8th team since 2012. He’s a linebacker with Baltimore, but he’s also played fullback for other organizations. There’s a reason he’s always on a team. He’s versatile, smart and tough and makes plays. He made one on Sunday when he returned a fumble 22 yards for a touchdown to give the Ravens a 20-7 lead.
Patriots @ Seahawks– L.J. Collier(DE) and Lano Hill (S)- @ljcollier91
- The two combined to stop the Patriots on the final play of the game at the goal line. The last three times these teams played the game has ended with a goal line stand by the defense to end the game. There was great recognition by Lano Hill to blow up the fullback on the play, and Collier finishes the job. It is isn’t often that the game comes down to one play, but in this game the Seahawks made the final stop needed to win the game.
Saints @ Raiders– Nick Morrow (LB)
- Morrow, is entering his fourth season in the league. The average fan probably has never heard of this undrafted player from a Division III school, Greenville University. Extra credit points if you know where this is. How many remember what he did just two days ago on Monday Night Football? Not many. This is no disrespect to Morrow. The average fan just focuses on scoring plays and fantasy points generally. Morrow’s interception late in the first half, gave the Raiders the ball. The Raiders, once down 10-0 in the game, capitalized on the turnover and kicked a field goal to tie the game before heading into the locker room.
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