As Week Nine of the NFL is in the books, it departs as one dominated by the underdog.
This week, the New York Giants took down the Las Vegas Raiders in a 23-16 showdown, and Atlanta Falcons beat the New Orleans Saints in a 27-25 battle that was decided by a late field goal by the Falcons. Both the Giants and Falcons weren’t favored to win, setting the stage for a week in which the underdogs thrived.
Continuing with the theme, the Denver Broncos beat the Dallas Cowboys 30-16 in Dallas. The Tennessee Titans, without star running back Derrick Henry, took down the Los Angeles Rams 28-16 on Sunday Night Football.
As shocking as those games turned out, none were as surprising as the Jacksonville Jaguars beating the Buffalo Bills in a field goal battle that ended 9-6.
Former Nebraska football players did well overall on the week. Here are a few of them and their highlights:
Maliek Collins, defensive tackle, Houston Texans
In a 17-9 loss to the Miami Dolphins last Sunday, in which there were nine combined turnovers, the Houston Texans didn’t have many positives to take away from this game.
However, defensive tackle Maliek Collins was a bright spot for the sputtering team as he finished the day with two total tackles, accounted for .5 of a sack, a fumble recovery, one quarterback hit and one interception.
In a game where ball security was rather lax, Collins had his chances to get the ball and he made the most of them.
In the third quarter with 11:46 left, Dolphins quarterback Jacoby Brissett’s pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage by defensive tackle Ross Blacklock. Collins knew what he had to do, positioning himself under the ball, coming down with it for his first career interception around midfield.
Collins wasn’t done yet, as with 7:57 left in the fourth quarter, Texans defensive end Jacob Martin strip sacked Brissett and the ball was recovered by Collins at the Houston 40-yard line.
Neither of Collins turnovers were turned into points as the Texans offense could not get anything going in the game.
The Texans and Collins head into their Week Ten bye at 1-8 and sit at the bottom of the AFC South and the AFC.
Sam Koch, punter, Baltimore Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens survived an overtime battle with the Minnesota Vikings, with Ravens kicker Justin Tucker sending the game winning field goal through the uprights for a 34-31 overtime victory.
Punter Sam Koch was used in his role, holding the ball for the game winning kick, and had three punts for 125 yards with one inside the 20-yard line.
Koch had a 39-yard punt that pinned the Vikings down on their own 6-yard line on a fourth-and-14 with 4:53 left to go in the first quarter. Koch's second punt of the night was nothing to write home about, as it was 35 yards but got the job done as the Vikings were forced to punt on that ensuing drive.
Koch’s final punt of the day came on a fourth-and-5 on Baltimore's own 28-yard line. Koch flipped the field again as he sent the kick 51 yards to Minnesota’s 21-yard line.
The Ravens sit atop the AFC North alone at 6-2 and will now travel, on a short week, to take on the Miami Dolphins on Thursday Night Football. The kickoff will be at 7:20 p.m. and the matchup will premiere on Fox and NFL Network.
Randy Gregory, defensive end, Dallas Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory had two total tackles and one quarterback hit on 48 snaps in a 30-16 loss to the Denver Broncos.
Gregory’s biggest play of the game came on back-to-back plays in which halted the Broncos run game. Gregory’s first tackle came on first-and-10 with 9:00 left to go in the fourth.
Broncos running back Javonte Williams ran through the right side of his offensive line and was stopped in his tracks by Gregory for a three-yard gain. On the ensuing play, Williams tried again running to the right side, but Gregory was there to stop him for a mere two-yard gain on the play.
Those plays forced the Broncos to settle for a field goal which brought the score to 30-0. That may not seem like a promising stop, but the Broncos did start on a short field on the Dallas 39 after an interception by Broncos safety Caden Sterns.
The Cowboys will look to bounce back in Week Ten as they invite the Atlanta Falcons for a high noon game time on Fox.
Ameer Abdullah, running back, Carolina Panthers
Carolina Panthers running back Ameer Abdullah had four catches for 30 yards and a rush on 22 offensive snaps, along with two kick returns for 43 yards, on five special teams snaps in a 24-6 loss to the New England Patriots.
The Panthers regained Christian McCaffrey, their star running back, in Week Nine, which put Abdullah in the second string running back position.
Even in his second string role, the Panthers needed a back to complement McCaffrey on the last drive of the game and they leaned on Abdullah to do so. In the last drive, Abdullah had two of his four catches for 19 yards.
Abdullah's biggest play on the last drive came from a short pass to the right that he took for 12 yards with 4:09 left in the game.
The Panthers will look to bounce back as they travel to Arizona to take on the 8-1 Cardinals that sit atop the whole NFC. Kickoff for the game will be at 3:05 p.m. on Fox.