Overall, week 17 saw the most former Terps in the NFL make big plays and put up stellar performances on the gridiron. Whether it was a pass-catcher who’s found his form or defensive players who stepped up big time, Terps were making plays all across the league this week.
It’s been another week with quarterback Sam Darnold at the helm for the Carolina Panthers, and the offense has looked great. This is helping wide receiver D.J. Moore, who is playing like a Pro Bowler once again with one of his best performances of the year against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was targeted 10 times and went off with six catches for 110 yards and a touchdown. This included this 47-yard grab in which Moore had to adjust to an underthrown pass by coming across the middle of the field and making a big grab.
HAVE A DAY DJ pic.twitter.com/HqhNqXZDZe— Maryland Football (@TerpsFootball) January 1, 2023
Moore has really been finding his groove in recent weeks, having at least 70 receiving yards and a touchdown in four of his last five games. He’s the team’s leading receiver with 878 receiving yards on the season, and has shown to have a real rapport with Darnold. Even though the Panthers are out of the playoffs after losing to the Buccaneers on Sunday, they have a very interesting decision going forward whether to keep Darnold or not. With Moore signed to the Panthers long-term, it’ll be interesting to see if they make a move for a different leader of the offense this offseason.
While he’s normally been a rotational defensive lineman who contributes on occasion, Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson had his best performance of the 2022 season on Sunday against the New York Jets. He absolutely dominated the Jets offensive line while playing just 41% of defensive snaps, putting up 1.5 sacks, three solo tackles, an assisted tackle, two tackles for loss and three quarterback hits. His performance helped the Seahawks get the 23-6 win and remain in the hunt for the last playoff spot in the NFC. He’s been an unspoken name on the Seahawks defense this season, but he’s provided much-needed veteran depth to a young defense. His 5.5 sacks this season are a career high, and he’s only played the fourth-most snaps in a season in his career. He was an important under-the-radar pickup for Pete Carroll this offseason.
After not starting for two straight weeks, Green Bay Packers safety Darnell Savage finally got his starting spot back this week against the Minnesota Vikings and came up with a big play. With the Vikings driving down four in the middle of the first quarter, quarterback Kirk Cousins threw a pass into coverage that was tipped and picked by Savage. The safety proceeded to juke a few defenders and run down the left sideline for a pick-six that was over 70 yards to put the Packers up 14-6.
DARNELL SAVAGE PICK 6! pic.twitter.com/nUUZmyqaTN— Maryland Football (@TerpsFootball) January 1, 2023
Savage also had a tackle and a pass deflection on the day, but this was his first interception of the season. A player who had given up 26 completions in coverage this season came up with a defensive touchdown that would help the Packers win in dominant fashion against the Vikings, 41-17. Green Bay now controls its own playoff destiny. It was a timely performance from a player who really needed it.
Cleveland Browns linebacker Jermaine Carter Jr. was a practice squad player for the first nine weeks of the season, but he’s played in six games since for the Browns and had one of the best games of his career Sunday against the Washington Commanders. Carter played a season-high 42% of defensive snaps and was everywhere on the field, racking up one solo tackle, five assisted tackles and a quarterback hit. He helped the Browns come up with a 24-10 win to knock the Commanders out of playoff contention. He’ll get plenty more looks for the Browns now that they aren’t a playoff team, so maybe Carter will show something to the 31 other teams in the league that could lead to him landing somewhere else this offseason.
While Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs did play this week, the Bills’ game against the Cincinnati Bengals was suspended due to Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffering cardiac arrest on the field during the first quarter. Football is a game that fans watching take for granted, and it can be hard to realize that some of these men are putting their lives on the line every down. On behalf of Testudo Times, our thoughts and prayers go out to Hamlin, his family and friends and the Buffalo Bills organization. Praying for a speedy recovery.
The thoughts and prayers of all of Bills Mafia are supporting you, Damar. pic.twitter.com/lDWNAOEPX4— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) January 3, 2023
- Seattle Seahawks tight end Tyler Mabry had been on the practice squad all season until he was called up to the active roster for the first time this year to play against the New York Jets. It’s safe to say he made the most of it; he was targeted once in the game for a catch in the red zone which was a 7-yard touchdown — his first catch and first touchdown of his career. This score helped the Seahawks stay in playoff contention, as they would go on to beat the Jets.
TYLER MABRY FIRST CAREER CATCH, FIRST CAREER TD!! pic.twitter.com/PqAOQIqxzs— Maryland Football (@TerpsFootball) January 1, 2023
- New York Jets running back Ty Johnson had one of his best games of the 2022 season against the Seahawks this week. He played a season-high 47% offensive snaps and made the most of it, rushing for 46 yards on eight rushing attempts. He was less impressive in the passing game, catching one pass on five targets for 11 yards as the Jets lost to the Seahawks and fell out of playoff contention in the AFC.
- After becoming a big part of the offense as of late and starting on Thursday, Tennessee Titans rookie tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo played his fewest offensive snaps since week five against the Dallas Cowboys. He still managed to have three catches on four targets for 24 yards despite only being on the field for 25% of offensive snaps, as the Cowboys beat the Titans, 27-13.
- Linebacker Josh Woods is normally a defensive specialist for the Detroit Lions, however due to the way in which the Lions dominated the Bears, he was able to play his most defensive plays of the season on Sunday. He played 13% of defensive snaps and 77% of special teams snaps, recording one solo tackle as the Lions beat the Bears, 41-10.
- Indianapolis Colts rookie safety Nick Cross has been playing a special teams role for much of this season, and he did just that against the Giants on Sunday and still showed up on the stat sheet. Cross had an assisted tackle while playing 54% of special teams snaps as the Colts got crushed.
- Tennessee Titans defensive end Sam Okuayinonu was moved up to the active roster for the first time since week 12 to play on Thursday night against the Dallas Cowboys. He didn’t do much, recording just one solo tackle while playing 16% of defensive snaps in the Titans’ loss to the Cowboys. He was waived shortly after.
- Indianapolis Colts defensive tackle Byron Cowart played a little bit more than usual this week as his team was getting dominated by the New York Giants. He played 30% of defensive snaps in his normal rotational role on the defensive line, recording one assisted tackle. It’s the sixth time in the last seven weeks that he’s recorded a stat.
- Running back Anthony McFarland Jr. only made one appearance for the Pittsburgh Steelers this season. Since then, he’s been on the practice squad and didn’t make an appearance on the active roster this week.
- Cornerback Tino Ellis hasn’t played in a single game for the Miami Dolphins this season since being a late addition to the practice squad midseason. This trend continued this week as he was not a member of the active roster on Sunday.
- Running back Jake Funk has finally managed to consistently stay on a team since his time with the Los Angeles Rams earlier this season. He did not get called up to the Indianapolis Colts’ active roster this week, however, he was signed to Indianapolis’ week 18 roster.
- Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Keandre Jones remained on the practice squad this week and hasn’t played in a game since the first few weeks of the season.
- Players who were inactive or on injured reserve this week were: Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Jared Bernhardt, Cleveland Browns offensive lineman Michael Dunn, Los Angeles Chargers cornerback J.C. Jackson and Indianapolis Colts defensive end Yannick Ngakoue.