Across The Shield: Jaxon Smith-Njigba Scores A Game-Winning Touchdown, Garrett Wilson Goes for 100, Baron Browning Has A Big Day and Cameron Johnston Breaks a Texans Record

By Dan Hope on October 31, 2023 at 10:10 am
Jaxon Smith-Njigba
Steven Bisig – USA TODAY Sports

Jaxon Smith-Njigba scored the game-winning touchdown in the Seattle Seahawks’ win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

With less than a minute to play and the Seahawks trailing 20-17, Smith-Njigba caught a screen pass and accelerated past two Browns defenders on his way to the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown that would give the Seahawks a 24-20 lead that they would hold for the final 38 seconds of the game.

After scoring no touchdowns in his first five NFL games, Smith-Njigba has now scored the first two touchdowns of his professional career in back-to-back weeks. Seven games into his rook, Smith-Njigba has caught 23 passes for 209 yards and two scores.

Former Ohio State defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones also contributed to the Seahawks’ victory over his hometown team, tying his career-high with three quarterback hits while recording two tackles with a tackle for loss.

Wilson hits 100 with clutch plays

Smith-Njigba wasn’t the only former Ohio State receiver to come up big with the game on the line in Week 8 of the NFL season.

The intracity rivalry game between the New York Jets and New York Giants was no clinic for offensive football – the two teams combined for the same number of punts as first downs (24) – but Garrett Wilson made multiple big plays in the game’s deciding moments that led the Jets to a 13-10 overtime win.

In the final minute of regulation, Wilson made a 29-yard catch over the middle of the field to help set up the game-tying field goal that sent the game to overtime. In overtime, Wilson kept the Jets’ game-winning drive alive by making an 11-yard catch to move the chains on 3rd-and-10 despite being interfered with by Giants cornerback Deonte Banks.

Wilson made an even better catch earlier in the game when he somehow kept his toes on both feet in bounds while being pushed by Banks for a 17-yard catch along the left sideline.

Collectively, Wilson’s seven catches for the day went for exactly 100 yards, his season-high in yardage and the fourth 100-yard game of his NFL career to date. Wilson also gained his six yards on his first rushing play of the season.

Browning comes up big for Broncos

In just his second game this year after missing the start of the season with a torn meniscus, Baron Browning announced his on-field presence in a big way to help propel the Denver Broncos to a surprise 24-9 win over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Browning and his former Ohio State teammate Jonathon Cooper combined for a takeaway in the final minute of the first half when Browning strip-sacked Patrick Mahomes and Cooper scooped up the loose ball for a fumble recovery.

In the fourth quarter, Browning helped the Broncos put the game away by sacking Mahomes for a 10-yard loss on third down. It marked the first time in Browning’s NFL career that he has recorded two full sacks in a single game.

Browning also made a key tackle for loss in the first quarter when he stopped a shovel pass behind the line of scrimmage on third down at the 4-yard line, which made the Chiefs settle for a field goal. He finished the game with four total tackles and three total quarterback hits and was credited with six total quarterback pressures by Pro Football Focus.

In recognition of his disruptive performance, Browning wins our Pro Buck of the Week award as the top performer among former Ohio State players in Week 8 of the NFL season.

Pro Bucks of the Week
Week Player Stats
Week 1 Saints CB Marshon Lattimore 1 INT, 3 PBU, 2 tackles
Week 2 Texans QB C.J. Stroud 30-47 passing, 384 yards, 2 TD
Week 3 Saints WR Chris Olave 8 catches, 104 yards
Week 4 Broncos OLB Jonathon Cooper 5 tackles, 1 sack, 2 QB hits, 35-yard fumble return TD
Week 5 Bears QB Justin Fields 15-29 passing, 282 yards, 4 TD; 11 carries, 57 yards
Week 6 Bengals DE Sam Hubbard 7 tackles, 1 sack, 5 QB hits
Week 7 Dolphins LB Jerome Baker 11 tackles, 1 TFL, 22-yard interception return TD
Week 8 Broncos OLB Baron Browning 4 tackles, 3 TFL, 2 sacks, 3 QB hits, 1 FF

Cooper recorded three total tackles with a half-sack and two quarterback hits in addition to his fumble recovery.

Johnston breaks Texans record

Cameron Johnston is now the owner of the longest punt in the franchise history of the Houston Texans.

The former Ohio State punter broke that record with a 74-yard boot against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. And he didn’t even need the help of a friendly bounce. Johnston’s punt traveled nearly 80 yards in the air as it came off Johnston’s foot just outside of the Texans’ own end zone and was caught by Panthers punt returner Ihmir Smith-Marsette just in front of the Panthers’ 20-yard line.

For the game as a whole, Johnston averaged 47.8 yards per punt while four of his six punts were downed inside the 20-yard line. That helped keep the Texans in the game on a day where C.J. Stroud threw for only 140 yards, his lowest passing yardage total so far in his NFL rookie season.

Nearly half of Stroud’s passing yards against the Panthers went to fellow Ohio State product Noah Brown, who caught three passes for 57 yards against Carolina, doubling his receiving yardage total for the season.

Stroud also scored his first rushing touchdown of his NFL career when he powered the ball into the end zone from the 1-yard line on a quarterback sneak that gave the Texans a 13-12 lead in the final minute of the third quarter.

The Texans would go on to lose 15-13, however, denying Stroud the satisfaction of earning a win over Panthers quarterback Bryce Young, the only player selected ahead of Stroud in the 2023 NFL draft.

Big Bear shines on Sunday night

While Joey Bosa has been playing through both a broken toe and a hamstring injury this season, the former Ohio State defensive end gave the nation a reminder of how good he can be when he’s at his best on Sunday night.

Bosa started putting his stamp on this week’s Sunday night game on the game’s opening drive with a beastly inside rush on which he bull-rushed Chicago Bears left guard Cody Whitehair backward before lunging at Bears quarterback Tyson Bagent to take him down for a sack 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage.

Later in the game, Bosa announced his presence again with a 4th-and-1 run stuff for no gain.

Bosa finished the game with four total tackles and five total quarterback pressures (including two quarterback hits) as the Los Angeles Chargers won 30-13.

Thomas battles through stomach bug

Michael Thomas was one of several New Orleans Saints players who got sick with a gastrointestinal bug this past week, telling reporters after their win over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday that he got sick on Saturday morning and was unable to keep down food for two days, needing nine IV bags between Saturday and Sunday to stay hydrated.

The former Ohio State wide receiver didn’t let that stop him from having a productive game on Sunday in Indianapolis, where he caught four passes for 68 yards, highlighted by a 31-yard catch in the first quarter that set up a Saints touchdown.

After playing in only 10 games from 2020-22 due to injuries, Thomas was determined not to let anything keep him off the field.

“My guys needed me to be there,” Thomas said after the game. “It's just accountability. If it wasn't something, like how I missed all those games, I'm probably going to play. That's just the mindset. That's how much I missed it. ... I was going to find a way to play.”

Thomas has played in all eight of New Orleans’ games so far this season and has caught 38 passes for 439 yards and one touchdown. He ranks third on the Saints in both categories; fellow Ohio State product Chris Olave leads the team with 44 catches for 517 yards after catching five passes for 46 yards against the Colts, though he dropped a prime opportunity for what would have been a 39-yard touchdown.

On the Saints’ defense, Marshon Lattimore recorded a season-high nine tackles with one tackle for loss and a pass deflection while Pete Werner recorded four tackles as he played in his hometown of Indianapolis for the first time as an NFL player.

Quick hits

  • Jordan Fuller recorded his first interception since 2021 when he caught a deflected Dak Prescott pass just outside of the end zone on Sunday, helping stop the score from becoming even worse in a game the Los Angeles Rams lost 43-20 to the Dallas Cowboys.
  • Terry McLaurin scored his second touchdown of the season on a leaping 26-yard catch in the first quarter of the Washington Commanders’ loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
  • Thayer Munford, who was infamously on the wrong end of a viral Aidan Hutchinson bull-rush in Ohio State’s 2021 loss to Michigan, got some revenge against the former Michigan defensive end with a powerful pancake block in the Las Vegas Raiders’ game against the Detroit Lions on Monday night.
  • Nick Bosa gave his former Ohio State teammate Joe Burrow some postgame props after Burrow completed 28 of 32 passing attempts for 283 yards and three touchdowns and ran the ball six times for 43 yards to lead the Cincinnati Bengals to a 31-17 win over the San Francisco 49ers.
  • Cameron Heyward had a good week both on and off the field. He returned to practice for the Pittsburgh Steelers for the first time since suffering a groin injury in Week 1, while he was also named the NFLPA’s Community MVP for Week 8 in recognition of his efforts to give back off the field.
  • C.J. Stroud is already in the Pro Football Hall of Fame – in a way – as the game ball from the Texans’ Week 5 game against the Atlanta Falcons, in which he broke the NFL record for the most passing attempts to start a career without an interception, is now on display in Canton.

Statistics for every former Ohio State player from Week 8 and for the 2023 NFL season as a whole can be found in the table below compiled by Eleven Warriors researcher Matt Gutridge. (Note: The table only includes players who finished their college careers at Ohio State.)

Buckeyes Around the NFL
ELI APPLE CB DOLPHINS 3 tackles 31 tackles, 1 QB hit, 6 PD
JEROME BAKER LB DOLPHINS 5 tackles 49 tackles, 1.5 sacks (0 yards), 1 TFL, 4 QB hits, 1 INT, 1 PD, 1 TD
VONN BELL S PANTHERS Inactive 33 tackles, 1 INT, 2 PD
JOEY BOSA OLB CHARGERS 4 tackles, 1 sack (10 yards), 1 TFL, 2 QB hits 13 tackles, 4 sacks (38 yards), 4 TFL, 6 QB hits, 1 PD
NICK BOSA DE 49ERS 2 tackles, 0.5 sack (1.5 yards), 2 QB hits 21 tackles, 3.0 sacks (23.5 yards), 5 TFL, 19 QB hits, 1 PD
NOAH BROWN WR TEXANS 3 catches, 57 yards 8 catches, 114 yards
BARON BROWNING OLB BRONCOS 4 tackles, 2 sacks (21 yards), 3 TFL, 3 QB hits, 1 FF 5 tackles, 2 sacks (21 yards), 3 TFL, 3 QB hits, 1 PD, 1 FF
PARRIS CAMPBELL WR GIANTS 1 KR, 24 yards 16 catches, 85 yards; 2 KR, 45 yards
JONATHON COOPER OLB BRONCOS 3 tackles, 0.5 sack (3.5 yards), 2 QB hits, 1 FR 39 tackles, 4.5 sacks (31.5 yards), 1 FF, 3 TFL, 8 QB hits, 1 PD, 2 FR, 1 TD
TAYLOR DECKER OT LIONS Started at LT 6 starts at LT
J.K. DOBBINS RB RAVENS Injured reserve (Achilles) 8 carries, 22 yards, 1 TD
EZEKIEL ELLIOTT RB PATRIOTS 7 carries, 36 yards 67 carries, 260 yards, 2 TD; 13 catches, 59 yards
LUKE FARRELL TE JAGUARS 1 catch, 5 yards 5 catches, 35 yards
JUSTIN FIELDS QB BEARS Inactive 100/152 passing, 1,201 yards, 11 TD, 6 INT; 47 carries, 237 yards, 1 TD
JORDAN FULLER S RAMS 6 tackles, 1 INT, 1 PD 50 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 INT, 2 PD, 2 FF
DaVON HAMILTON DT JAGUARS Injured reserve (back) Has not played
JOHNATHAN HANKINS DT COWBOYS 1 tackle 13 tackles, 2 PD
MALIK HARRISON LB RAVENS 4 tackles 16 tackles, 1 QB hit
ZACH HARRISON DE FALCONS 2 tackles 15 tackles
CAMERON HEYWARD DT STEELERS Injured reserve (groin) 1 QB hit
RONNIE HICKMAN S BROWNS Inactive 1 game played at S
MALIK HOOKER S COWBOYS 1 tackle 22 tackles, 1 INT, 2 PD
SAM HUBBARD DE BENGALS 6 tackles, 1 sack (6 yards), 1 TFL, 2 QB hits 38 tackles, 4 sacks (24 yards), 4 TFL, 12 QB hits, 1 FR
JONAH JACKSON OG LIONS Inactive (ankle) 5 starts at LG
CAMERON JOHNSTON P TEXANS 6 punts, 47.8 average, 4 inside 20 17 punts, 44.6 average, 9 inside 20
DAWAND JONES OT BROWNS Started at RT 6 starts at RT, 7 games played
DRE'MONT JONES DE SEAHAWKS 2 tackles, 1 TFL, 3 QB hits 17 tackles, 2 sacks (10 yards), 4 TFL, 7 QB hits
MARSHON LATTIMORE CB SAINTS 9 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 PD 41 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 INT, 8 PD
TYQUAN LEWIS DE COLTS 1 tackle 10 tackles, 1 sack (6 yards) 3 TFL, 5 QB hits, 1 PD
COREY LINSLEY C CHARGERS Non-football illness (heart) 3 starts at C
LIAM McCULLOUGH LS FALCONS Played at LS 1 tackle, 7 games played at LS
TERRY McLAURIN WR COMMANDERS 5 catches, 63 yards, 1 TD 42 receptions, 495 yards, 2 TD, 1 FR TD
THAYER MUNFORD OT RAIDERS Started at RT 4 starts, 8 games played at OT
JOSH MYERS C PACKERS Started at C 7 games started at C
JEFF OKUDAH CB FALCONS 5 tackles, 1 TFL 21 tackles, 1 TFL, 3 PD
CHRIS OLAVE WR SAINTS 5 catches, 46 yards 44 catches, 517 yards, 1 TD
NICHOLAS PETIT-FRERE OT TITANS Started at LT 1 start at LT, 2 games played
ISAIAH PRINCE OT FALCONS Released 2 games played
BRADLEY ROBY CB EAGLES Inactive 2 tackles
JEREMY RUCKERT TE JETS Played at TE 4 catches, 36 yards
CURTIS SAMUEL WR COMMANDERS 4 catches, 22 yards 35 catches, 332 yards, 2 TD; 4 carries, 20 yards, 1 TD
TREY SERMON RB COLTS Special teams 8 carries, 24 yards
KENDALL SHEFFIELD CB 49ERS 1 tackle 4 tackles, 1 TFL
TYREKE SMITH LB SEAHAWKS Practice squad 1 tackle
JAXON SMITH-NJIGBA WR SEAHAWKS 3 catches, 36 yards, 1 TD 23 catches, 209 yards, 2 TD
C.J. STROUD QB TEXANS 16/24 passing, 140 yards; 2 carries, 13 yards, 1 TD 143/237 passing, 1,800 yards, 9 TD, 1 INT; 20 carries, 68 yards, 1 TD
MICHAEL THOMAS WR SAINTS 4 catches, 68 yards 38 catches, 439 yards, 1 TD
SHAUN WADE CB PATRIOTS Special teams 12 tackles, 1 PD
DENZEL WARD CB BROWNS 4 tackles, 1 PD 22 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 INT, 7 PD, 1 FF
PETE WERNER LB SAINTS 4 tackles 51 tackles, 0.5 sack (4 yards), 1 QB hit, 1 INT, 1 PD
GARRETT WILSON WR JETS 7 catches, 100 yards; 1 carry, 6 yards 39 catches, 469 yards, 2 TD; 1 carry, 6 yards
LUKE WYPLER C BROWNS Did not play 1 game played
CHASE YOUNG DE COMMANDERS 1 tackle 16 tackles, 5 sacks (35 yards), 6 TFL, 9 QB hits, 1 PD
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