The Houndie is an award formerly known as the Buckeye NFLer of the Week. After 2 years of existence, we searched for a catchier name, so with the help of a well placed typo and the ensuing 11W comments, the current title was created.
Welcome to the final Houndie of this decade. The NFL's sixteen week saw the NFC playoff race come clear into focus, where as the AFC post season hopes continue to linger for nearly a half dozen different franchises. Seeing the landscape through Scarlet & Gray tinted glasses, these weekend's theme was unquestionably redemption.
We begin in a stadium large part of me desires never to go back to again in Glenadale, Arizona where the St Louis Rams traveled to meet St Louis' former club, the Cardinals. Having already wrapped up the NFC west crown, the 'Cards motivation in pushing forward was a chance albeit an outside once) to make a push for the 2nd overall seed in the conference and a first round bye. The Cardinals handled there business (and then some), disposing of the forlorn Rams 31-10. Helping read the future employers of Ndamukong Suh their death rides was the ghost of former Buckeye legend, Mike Nugent. The kicker with the penchant for the dramatic knocked home a 19-yard field goal and added 4 PATs as he continues to make a quest for a starting job in the League in 2010. The SOTD's chosen Earth human symbiote, Chris "Beanie" Wells, continued his mansome pursuit of Knowshon Moreno for the Offensive Rookie of the Year honors, racking up 68 yards of 17 carries, 25 yards receiving, and a rushing TD. And speaking of Rookie of the Years, "Little Animal" James Laurinaitis added six tackles for the visitors in the losing effort.
Another Buckeye emerging rising from the ashes in Week 16 was none other than '97 Rose Bowl participant Shawn Springs. The willy veteran saw considerable action in the Patriots' 35-7 dismantlement of the Jaguars (and subsequently, the Jags' playoff aspirations). Mr. Springs recorded his first INT of the year, and added 2 tackles and an assist in his most extended playing time of the 2009 season.
Former Buckeye corner Ashton Youbuty has been off many of our radars for much of the past year, but the long necked wonder recorded a season high 4 tackles in Buffalo's floundering 31-3 loss at the hands of the Falcons. Not to be outdone, teammate Donte Whitner set the tone in terms of statistical accumulation, contributing 8 tackles in an effort which despite the lofty numbers can be deemed inconsistent at best. D-Whit's zone coverage left much to be desired for the majority of the afternoon. Being johnny-on-the-spot to take advantage of said missed assignments was none other than the holiest of Buckeyes, one Michael Jenkins. Jenkins embraced his role as benefactor of a lackluster Bills' secondary, catching two balls for 22 yards in the W.
Redemption almost happened for a pair of young Bucks down in the Miami heat. After falling behind 27-0 to an explosive Houston aerial assault, former Buckeyes Ted Ginn Jr. and Brian Hartline aided and abated former enemy combatant Chad Henne in a close but not close enough 27-20 loss to the Texans. The 'Fins playoff aspirations are all but a thing of the past, but not for lack of trying but #19's and 82 respectively. TG2 caught five passes for an awesome 82 yards, while B-Hart added 3 receptions for 31 yards.
Another Buckeye largely off the radar in 2009 was former national champ Kenny Peterson. The DE/DT mutant turned veteran role player gets mention for recording two tackles in the Broncos tough 23-20 last second loss to the Eagles.
The final Houndie of the 2000s is a tight race, but comes down to 4 outstanding former Buckeyes. In part because of his team confidence, former meast AJ Hawk is left with little but an honorable mention after a righteous 5 tackle, one assist, and 1 INT afternoon. Hawk was a victim of his team's own domination, as the Pack got ready for the playoffs by absolutely assailing a desolate Seahawks bunch 48-10.
The shameful, shameful bronze this week goes to a man who's performance would've netted him football's highest honor in less competitive weeks. Defending Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes helped keep the Steelers' bleak playoff aspirations a realit catching 5 balls for 86 yards, including a posh 24-yard TD reception in a narrow 23-20 victory over divisional rival Baltimore. Holmes will have to best Teddy Ballgame and Hartline head to head, while his Steelers still not outside help from New England, Cincinnati, and/or Oakland/Kansas City to avoid becoming the latest Super Bowl winner to miss the playoffs the following season.
Both the week 16 Houndie recipient and runner up come from the same game, and while we try to avoid giving away the honor in a losing effort, both had phenominal efforts amongst the best this season. Saints defensive end Will Smith rakced up seven tackles and a huge sack, before the Saints lost their second game in as many weeks 20-17 to the Bucs in overtime. Smith's been a consistent week in week out competitor for the award, and should have a good shot at 2009's overall Houndie of the Year. However in this one, teammate (and rookie) Malcolm Jenkins stood alone with the defining performance of his young professional career. The rookie corner had a team high 8 tackles and an assist, consistently getting in on plays and being 2 dropped balls from adding a pair of INTs to go with his ridiculous output. Malcolm's gotten better as each week has passed and surely just in time, with both the playoffs rapidly approaching and the Saints' cornerbacks continue to struggle with both injury and inconsistency. While Jenkins may never have the world beater speed to slow down some of the League's blazingest wideouts, look for #27 to have his name in the Pro Bowl mix in a few short years. When he finally does make it to the exhibition a week before the Super Bowl, no doubt he'll be able to look back here and remember the award that helped start the mercurial rise to greatness.