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.
With just 5 games left in the regular season, 12 teams in both leagues still have a shot at a post season spot, but the elite teams are starting to rise to the top. The Patriots, Jets, Ravens and Steelers are clearly the 4 best teams in the AFC and all of them happen to face off against each other in the night games of week 13. Sunday will see Pittsburgh travel to Baltimore and Monday has New York going to New England. While in the NFC, my Bears took a step towards legitimacy and still sit a game behind the Falcons for home field.
Turkey Day saw Buckeyes all over the field in the two later games, with the Saints, Jets and Bengals all playing. The Jets came into Cincinnati and handed the Bengals their 8th straight loss, 26-10. Santonio Holmes continued his hot streak, catching 5 balls for 44 yards and a 13 yard TD in the third quarter, marking the third straight game in which he has found pay dirt. The Jets used their ground game, behind Mangold and Hartstock to the tune of 170 yards and over 33 minutes with the ball. Unfortunately, Vernon Gholston was left out of the box score once again, but was seen running around the field.
I failed to mention the pro debut of Aaron Pettrey last week for the Bungels, as he went 1 of 2, with 4 XP’s in their loss to Buffalo. This week he fared the same in the FG department, making from 28 and missing a chip shot from 27, which would have tied it at 10 early in the third.
In perhaps the best game of the day, Atlanta held off Green Bay, 20-17, nailing a 47 yard FG with 9 seconds left, after the Pack tied it up with just under a minute left. Michael Jenkins had a quiet day with 3 catches for 23 yards, while A.J. Hawk had 4 solo stops and 2 assists, with Ryan Pickett chipping in with an assist for the Packers.
In other receiver news, Brian Robiskie had his best game as a pro, snagging 7 catches for 50 yards in the Browns 24-23 win over Carolina. On the other side, Chris Gamble is making waves in the Panther organization and not in a good way. He was demoted earlier on Tuesday for a guy named Captain Munnerlyn and didn’t show up to practice Wednesday. He saw about 30 snaps Sunday and failed to make a tackle or pick off a pass, which marks the 14th straight game he hasn’t had one. His contract balloons to over 6.75 million next year, so this might be a situation to keep an eye on the next few weeks.
Staying with defense, Antoine Winfield had 4 solos and an assist in Minnesota’s crucial 17-13 win over Washington, while Mike Vrabel chipped in with 2 total tackles in KC’s 42-24 win over Seattle. For St. Louis, the Buckeye linebackers combined for 7 total tackles in the Rams’ huge 36-33 win in Denver. The win put St. Louis in a first place tie with Seattle.
I have to give special mention to Donte Whitner in the Bills narrow 19-16 OT loss to the Steelers. Whitner was credited with 8 solo tackles and 10 assists, as the Bills played their third overtime game of the season. He now has 104 tackles on the year (tying his career high) and currently sits 4th in the league for total tackles, 17 ahead of the nearest DB.
In Monday night's action, the field was littered with Buckeyes, as 11W favorite Chucky loved pointing out all night. The game started off with a bang, Teddy getting a good return, Beanie fumbling and Troy throwing a TD strike on the next play, but the 49ers turned to their running game and Arizona has no offense what soever, so it lagged in the second half. On the night, Troy ended up 11/23 for 129, a TD and a pick (though probably not his fault, Crabtree doesn't like running over the middle). Ginn looked good on his returns, averaging 31 yards on 2 kickoffs and 27 on 2 punts, while also catching 1 ball for 11 yards. The 49ers use a ton of zone coverage on defense, so even though Nate Clements numbers are down, he is still an effective tackler, ending the night with 3 solo stops. Then there's Beanie, who looked healthy when he held on to the ball, but just doesn't get enough touches. As mentioned, he fumbled his first attempt (given to Derek Anderson though), then caught a 43 yard bomb over Takeo Spikes and only had 5 rushing attempts the rest of the evening, for 13 yards.
This week's Houndie though is a first. The second game on Thanksgiving was the Saints at the Cowboys and if you weren't comatose from your dinner, then you saw a sweet performance from Will Smith and Malcolm Jenkins. Smith got it going with a pick on the Cowboys first possession, setting up a FG and a 10-0 lead. Then on the first play of the 4th quarter, Smith sacked and forced a fumble on Jon Kitna. Smith was also credited with 3 solo tackles on the day, as was Jenkins, who also added an assist, but it was Malcolm's last tackle that was the highlight of the weekend in my mind. With Dallas up 27-23, Roy Williams was streaking towards a long TD catch, but Jenkins tracked him down and stripped the ball from him at the NO 11. The Saints would need just 4 plays to take it 89 yards for the winnng TD and crush the minimal hopes of Cowboy Nation. I think Sean Payton said it best:
"The play that Malcolm Jenkins makes late is an effort play, a heart play, and it's one of those plays that really inspires everyone on the team," Payton said. "It was a gut-check win."
Though we almost gave it to Malcolm flat out after Smith's weekend disgression, this marks the first time a pair of teammates have won the award.