At one point in time, this award was known as the Buckeye NFLer of the Week. Thanks to a typo and the ensuing LOLsession from the commentariat, it was renamed as the Houndie. Same intent, but now with a better name.
We are officialy on the back half of the NFL season and there is little doubt that the Packers are still the best team at 8-0 and the Colts will soon find themselves in a quandary with Manning/Luck.
The bye weeks definitely limit the action of the former Buckeyes, but there is only one more after this week. Sitting this one out was Detroit, Minnesota, Carolina and Jacksonville.
We have to start once again with the Cincinnati Bengals, who won their 5th straight, a 24-17 road win over Tennessee. Who Dey! sit atop the division with Baltimore and welcome in the Steelers this Sunday.
Once again both Buckeyes played big roles for Cincy. Nate Clements was considered for this week's Houndie with 7 solo tackles and a key forced/recovered fumble late in the game. With under 5 minutes to play, Clements recovered the fumble at the Titans 20 yard line, where the Bengals would run off nearly 2 minutes of the clock and settle for Mike Nugent's only FG of the game, a 36-yarder to put Cincy up 24-17. Nugent also connected on all 3 of his XP's.
Since the Browns released Brian Roboskie, we no longer have to talk about the mess that is up in Cleveland right now, as they lost again 30-12, allowing the Texans to gash their defense for 261 yards.
One of the premier games was in Buffalo, where the Bills were looking to prove they belong with a win over the Jets. But New York's defense came to play, forcing 3 Bills turnovers and holding them to 297 total yards in their 27-11 road win. Santonio Holmes caught 3 balls for 29 yards, including an 8-yard TD in the 3rd quarter. Nick Mangold once again started for the Jets, as they ran for 126 yards and only gave up 1 sack.
The Jet's win was their 3rd straight, as they pulled into a tie with New England and Buffalo atop the division at 5-3.
For the second straight week, Brian Hartline didn't catch a pass, but the Dolphins won their first of the year, with a 31-3 road demolishing of the Chiefs. Austin Spitler recorded a special teams tackle for the 'Fins and Donald Washington was credited with a PD for the Chiefs.
Down in the Big Easy, the Saints won a crucial game over the Buccaneers, 27-16. Both Malcolm Jenkins and Will Smith had quiet days for the Saints, who stayed perfect at home. Jenkins had just 3 total tackles and a QB hit, while Smith had an assist and a deflected pass. The Saints travel to Atlanta this Sunday, where the winner will be alone in first before New Orleans hits their bye week.
The San Fransico 49ers traveld east for the 4th time this year, winning all four, this time with a 19-11 victory at Washington. Ted Ginn caught 1 pass for 14 yards, returned a kick for 20 yards and had 5 punt returns for 47 yards. Donte Whitner had 6 total tackles, 4 of them solos and also recovered a fumble at the Redskins 30, with just over a minute left in the half. The Niners would score on the next play to go up 13-0.
The Niners are now 7-1 and 5 games up on their nearest competitor, as the winner of the St. Louis/Arizona game would pull into a tie for second at 2-6.
The game was terrible, but Patrick Patterson made an incredible 99-yard punt return in OT, to give the Cardinals a 19-13 win. Beanie struggled mightily all day, gaining just 20 yards on 10 carries, while also catching 2 passes for 13 yards from backup QB Jamie Skelton.
Fresh off his first Houndie of the year, James Laurinaitis had 4 total tackels, as his offensive teammates failed to put anything in the end zone.
The most entertaining game of the weekend was out in San Diego, where the Packers jumped out to a 21-7 lead and held on to beat the Chargers, 45-38. A.J. Hawk was second on the team with 7 total tackles, including 6 solo stops, while Ryan Pickett added 3 solo stops and a PD. Brandon Saine made his pro debut on special teams for the Pack and was credited with 1 tackle, while Na'il Diggs was inactive for the Chargers.
In Sunday night's primetime game, the Ravens stunned the Steelers by scoring a TD with :08 left and stealing the 23-20 road win. Cam Heyward and Will Allen both saw action, but neither recorded any stats.
In Monday night's game, Buckeyes were all over the field, as my Bears kept pace in the NFC with a critical 30-24 road win at Philly. Dane Sanzenbacher had his chances reduced with the return of Earl Bennet and it didn't help he let one slip through his hands late in the first half. He was held without a catch for the first time all year.
For the Eagles, Kurt Coleman lead the team with a career high 12 tackles, including 10 solo stops, but most of those came 7+ yards from the line of scrimmage, as the Bears ran for 164 yards. Brian Rolle made a run at his first Houndie with 6 tackles, including 5 solos and also made a stellar strip/recovery on Forte, taking it 22 yards to tie the score at 10 with under 2 minutes left in the first half.
Though the performances of Clements and Rolle were impressive, it didn't match the heroics of Jake Ballard this week, as he takes home his second Houndie of the season, after spending last year on the practice squad.
As I'm sure most of you have seen, Ballard made a catch similar to the Rose Bowl, an acrobatic, one handed 28-yarder on 3rd and 10, with the Giants down 4 and less than a minute left. The catch moved the ball from the Giants own 39 to the Patriots 33. Two plays later, with Jim Cordle reporting as tackle eligble, Eli looked to Jake twice from the 1-yard line, connecting for the winning score on the second try with :15 seconds left.
The Giants 24-20 win keeps them 2 games ahead of the Cowboys and 3 ahead of the Eagles. For the year, Ballard has definitely become an integral part of the Giants offense with 23 catches for 395 yards and 3 TD's, making him the Giants third leading receiver in yards. Congratulations to Jake and continued success on this breakout season.