Offensive Players of the Week
Ben Roethlisberger, quarterback, Pittsburgh. Sort of a frustrating game for Roethlisberger for three quarters, especially when Diontae Johnson, who hasn’t had the dropsies this year, let a TD waft through his hands just before halftime. But trailing 10-3 entering the fourth, Roethlisberger did what storied quarterbacks do: He went TD-field goal-TD on three straight drives, with two touchdowns to Johnson, to lead the Steelers to a 20-19 season-resuscitating win at Heinz Field. If that was Big Ben’s final Ravens game at home, he went out in style, completing 21 of 31 for 236 yards and the two clutch scores.
Gardner Minshew, quarterback, Philadelphia. Minshew’s one incredible story. Hasn’t played the whole year, and he was forced into action at the Jets on Sunday because of an ankle injury to Jalen Hurts. He strafed the Jets early, completing 11 of 11 with two TD passes to Dallas Goedert. For the day, he completed 80 percent of his throws, and, amazingly, ended each of his first eight drives with either touchdowns or field goals. “There’s nothing like this feeling,” Minshew said.
Defensive Players of the Week
T.J. Watt, edge rusher, Pittsburgh. Stated his case rather eloquently for Defensive Player of the Year with 3.5 sacks, three QB pressures and one forced fumble in the 20-19 win over arch-rival Baltimore. His biggest play, as I wrote above, was rushing Lamar Jackson on the game-deciding two-point conversion try by the Ravens in the final seconds. Now that was a classic rivalry win, and Watt, coming off his Covid-19 case, played one of the best games of his career.
Carlos Dunlap, edge rusher, Seattle. Dunlap has been embattled all season, on and off the bench for lack of production after Seattle brought him back, thinking he could be a key sack guy. Early in the third quarter of a game Seattle had to have (it might be too late for the Seahawks, but who knows in this weird season), San Francisco led 23-21. With Jimmy Garoppolo set up to throw around his own goal line, Dunlap burst through the line and cornered Jimmy G for a safety. Now 23-all. Then, on fourth-and-goal from the Seattle 3-yard line with 22 seconds left and the ‘Hawks protecting (feebly) a 30-23 lead, Dunlap rushed from Garoppolo’s right and got an arm up to block the potential game-tying pass. Crucial day for what had been a declining player so far this year.
Special Teams Players of the Week
Travis Homer, punt-team upback, Seattle. It was one of the most stunning touchdowns of the season. After a frustrating game-opening possession, Seattle lined up to punt from its own 27-yard line. Homer took a short snap from long-snapper Tyler Ott and ran around left end past a lot of stunned 49ers. The 73-yard touchdown was precisely what the moribund Seahawks needed.
FAKE PUNT ➡️ FRONT FLIP
TRAVIS HOMER TO THE 🏠pic.twitter.com/X6ijwAcsUL
— PFF (@PFF) December 5, 2021
Jake Elliott, kicker, Philadelphia. Scored the last 13 points of a 33-18 win the Eagles desperately needed at the Meadowlands after last week’s debacle against the Giants. In fact, Elliott scored the only points of the game in the last 31 minutes, connecting on field goals of 31, 32, 43 and 46 yards on an odd day in New Jersey.
Coach of the Week
Dave Logan, Broncos radio voice/Denver Cherry Creek High School head coach. Logan won his 10th Colorado state high school football championship Saturday at Empower Field, with Cherry Creek shutting out top-seed Valor Christian 21-0. Logan has won those 10 titles at four different schools, and it’s believed that no high school football coach has ever won state titles with four different schools. The win Saturday was the 303rd of his coaching life. Logan flew to Kansas City to do the Broncos’ Sunday night game.
Goats of the Week
A Cincinnati-roots edition of Goats of the Week
Andy Dalton, quarterback, Chicago. The fifth four-interception game in his 150-game career was the ugliest, because those four turnovers led to 24 of the Cardinals’ 33 points. Dalton’s interceptions allowed Arizona to start drives at the Chicago 28, 15, 28 and 12-yard lines.
Joe Mixon, running back, Cincinnati. The Bengals had fought back to 24-22 against the Chargers by early in the fourth quarter, and they were driving, at the Chargers’ 34-yard line. Mixon took it from Joe Burrow and appeared to have trouble getting a good grip. He fumbled, and cornerback Tevaughn Campbell of the Chargers picked up this bizarre gift from heaven and ran 61 yards for the game-changing touchdown.