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Terps in the NFL: Diggs goes off and Okonkwo makes another splash

Former Maryland football stars continued to impress in the NFL.

Minnesota Vikings v Buffalo Bills Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

Among the former Terps in the NFL this week, Stefon Diggs made the biggest impact yet again with another huge performance in one of the craziest games of the season.

Diggs had 12 receptions on 16 targets for 128 receiving yards in a crushing 33-30 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. One of his 12 catches was this incredible one-handed snag over the middle of the field at the end of the third quarter.

Diggs had his sixth game of the season with over 100 yards receiving — the Bills have only played nine games so far. Just over halfway through the season, he is only 15 yards away from his fifth straight season with over 1,000 receiving yards. His numbers are impressive league-wide, ranking third in receiving yards and touchdowns in the NFL.

Diggs is also one of three wide receivers in the league averaging over 100 yards receiving per game, with Tyreek Hill and Justin Jefferson the only players averaging more than his 109.4 yards per game. The former First Team All-Pro receiver isn’t just looking to repeat that mark, he’s hoping to carry his team to the first Super Bowl appearance of his career.

It’s safe to say that Tennessee Titans rookie tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo has broken out in the last two weeks, and he did it in just two plays. Last week he took a tight end screen for 48 yards with some running after the catch. This week, Okonkwo had another 40+ yard catch against the Denver Broncos that turned heads all around the league.

On a third down late in the fourth quarter with the Titans up by four, Okonkwo got open over the middle of the field for a big catch. He proceeded to break a tackle and run 20 more yards to put the Titans in field goal range. The field goal sealed the game for the Titans, winning 17-10 over the Denver Broncos.

Okonkwo has had more yards in the last two games than he had in the first seven games of the season. Even though he was only targeted twice Sunday and played just 32% of offensive snaps, his recent form could make him more of a focal point in the offense moving forward. His ability to make plays with his feet is apparent — of his 141 receiving yards this season, 87 of them have come after the catch.

The Green Bay Packers had lost five straight games prior to Sunday but were able to beat the Dallas Cowboys in overtime to come up with a much-needed 31-28 win. Not only did the Packers have their game of the season, but safety Darnell Savage also had his best performance of 2022 against Dallas.

Savage had a season-high eight combined tackles, with six solo tackles and two assisted tackles, to go along with a pass deflection while playing every defensive snap. He may have given up a touchdown in pass coverage, but that’s not surprising considering quarterbacks have a 131.2 passer rating when targeting him this season. But, Savage’s tackling numbers are impressive, with his 7.1% missed tackle percentage being lower than his average every other season he’s played. If he can work on his coverage skills, Savage could be a problem for opposing teams in the future.

The Indianapolis Colts have had an up and down season so far, from beating the Chiefs early this season to benching quarterback Matt Ryan and firing head coach Frank Reich last week. Under interim head coach Jeff Saturday, fans wondered how the new coaching staff would handle the playing time of players. For defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, he saw his defensive snaps increase heavily to 84% Sunday, playing his highest percentage in a game all season against the team he played for last season.

Ngakoue put up numbers as well, recording half a sack, an assisted tackle and a quarterback hit as the Colts beat the Raiders, 25-20. Through 10 games as a starter, he has five sacks this season and has recorded at least half a sack in four straight games. Ngakoue is the team’s second-leading sack artist, only behind defensive tackle Deforest Buckner by half a sack. After getting double-digit sacks last season, the seven-year veteran is hoping to reach that total once again to get paid as a pending free agent.

Other performers

  • Carolina Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore was a player to follow going into this week’s game against the Atlanta Falcons after having 152 yards receiving and a touchdown against the same team two weeks ago. However, this week on Thursday Night Football, Moore didn’t come close to that total, getting four catches on six targets for 29 yards as the Panthers won, 25-15. Moore’s been having a subpar season, with 478 yards receiving through 10 games, and this week’s performance isn’t showing any signs of an uptick in form.
  • Undrafted rookie defensive end Sam Okuayinonu got on the field for the third time this season for the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. He played 32% of defensive snaps against the Denver Broncos and had a career-high three combined tackles as the Titans beat the Broncos in regulation. He may become a more consistent addition to the roster with his performance.
  • After being relegated to a special teams role this season, Indianapolis Colts rookie safety Nick Cross finally made the most of it for his new head coach Sunday. Cross was flying all over the field against the Las Vegas Raiders, racking up two solo tackles and an assisted tackle as the Colts came up with a much-needed victory over the Raiders.
  • After he was cut from the Kansas City Chiefs’ practice squad this season, linebacker Jermaine Carter Jr. found his way to the Cleveland Browns’ practice squad. This week, he played his first snaps of the season for the Browns on special teams against the Miami Dolphins. Carter Jr. made sure to take advantage of his opportunity and came up with two solo tackles in 13 snaps. This wouldn’t help the Browns, who lost 39-17 to Miami.
  • Defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson had a limited cameo for the Seattle Seahawks against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Germany. He was on the field for 35% of defensive snaps, his lowest amount of the season. But, Jefferson had two solo tackles as the Seahawks lost to the Buccaneers, 21-16.
  • Indianapolis Colts defensive tackle Byron Cowart played his first snaps of the season under new head coach Jeff Saturday, and one could already see a difference in how he’s being used. Cowart played his fewest snaps in a game this season, only being on the field for five defensive plays. But he did pick up an assisted tackle, the first stat he has recorded in three weeks.
  • Detroit Lions linebacker and special teams ace Josh Woods got snaps to try and make an impact on Sunday against the Chicago Bears. He played 66% of special teams snaps and had no tackles, but the Lions still managed to pull off their second win of the season against the Bears, 31-30.
  • Running back Anthony McFarland Jr. played in two games for the Pittsburgh Steelers last season, and he’s been on the team’s practice squad all of this season after getting beat out by undrafted rookie Jaylen Warren and Benny Snell in training camp.
  • Cornerback Tino Ellis was signed to the Miami Dolphins’ practice squad for secondary depth, and he hasn’t been a player on the main roster yet despite injuries.
  • Running back Jake Funk was signed to the Indianapolis Colts’ practice squad after being waived by the New Orleans Saints.
  • It’s been 10 weeks, and Seattle Seahawks tight end Tyler Mabry still hasn’t been elevated from the practice squad to the active roster.
  • The following players were on a bye this week: Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Kenadre Jones and New York Jets running back Ty Johnson.
  • Those out with injuries or inactive are: Los Angeles Chargers cornerback J.C. Jackson, Cleveland Browns offensive lineman Michael Dunn and Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Jared Bernhardt.