Eric Decker helps Denver Broncos get statement win vs. Ravens
- Updated: Dec. 17, 2012 at 11:06 p.m.
These guys might not exactly be carrying a lunch pail to the stadium each week, but they did bring an industrious, blue-collar, working-man approach to Week 15. Take a look at all the nominees, then vote in the poll at the bottom of the right column for your choice for the Hardest-Working Man.
Chris Clemons, Seattle Seahawks
It takes a lot of work from a lot of different sources to put together consecutive 50-burgers. Last week, much credit went to Marshawn Lynch. This week, we're going to focus on the defensive side of the ball and give Clemons a nod for his contributions in a 50-17 win over the Buffalo Bills at Toronto's Rogers Centre. Clemons had 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble as the Seahawks defense made life miserable for Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. With Sunday's win and the 58-0 victory over the Arizona Cardinals in Week 14, the Seahawks became just the third team in NFL history to post back-to-back 50-burgers during the same season. The last time this was done was in 1950, when the New York Giants and Los Angeles Rams accomplished the feat in the same season (it should be noted that the Rams' back-to-back scoring fiestas included a 70-burger -- a 70-27 win over the Baltimore Colts -- and a 60-burger -- a 65-24 win over the Detroit Lions).
Michael Crabtree, San Francisco 49ers
For much of his career, Crabtree -- the No. 10 overall selection in the 2009 NFL Draft -- had yet to live up to expectations. This season, however, Crabtree is 132 yards shy of his first 1,000-yard receiving season. Crabtree picked a good time to have the biggest game of his season. Crabtree caught seven passes for 107 yards and two touchdowns. The second touchdown came at the most crucial juncture in the 49ers' 41-34 win over the New England Patriots. Just after the Patriots scored 28 unanswered points to tie up the game at 31-31, Crabtree took a short pass from quarterback Colin Kaepernick and went 38 yards for what turned out to be the game-deciding score.
Eric Decker, Denver Broncos
One of the most emphatic wins on "Statement Sunday" was the Broncos' 34-17 victory over the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Helping the Broncos deliver that dominant performance was Decker, who caught eight passes for 133 yards and one touchdown. The addition of quarterback Peyton Manning has provided a career season for Decker, who already has career highs in receptions (72), receiving yards (923) and touchdowns (9).
Asante Samuel, Atlanta Falcons
Right from the second play from scrimmage, it appeared that the Falcons were bound for a statement win. New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning's first pass was picked off by Samuel. Four plays later, the Falcons put a touchdown up on the scoreboard en route to a thorough 34-0 defeat of the defending Super Bowl champions. Samuel's interception was notable for a couple more reasons: 1) He passed Ronde Barber for fourth-most interceptions among active players with 48, and 2) Samuel's 22 interceptions since 2009 are the most in the NFL. The interception set the tone for a historic defeat for the Giants, whose 34-point loss tied them for the worst margin of defeat ever suffered by a defending Super Bowl champion. It was also the Giants' first shutout since 1996, when their quarterbacks in a 24-0 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles were Danny Kanell and Dave Brown.
J.J. Watt, Houston Texans
Watt helped the Texans recover from an embarrassing 42-14 loss to the New England Patriots on "Monday Night Football" to defeat the Indianapolis Colts 29-17 and clinch the AFC South crown for the second consecutive year. Watt had three sacks of quarterback Andrew Luck, boosting his season total to 19.5. Watt is now three sacks short of tying Michael Strahan's record of 22.5 set in the 2001 season. Watt also became the first player since 1982 when sacks became an official statistic to have 15 or more sacks and 15 or more passes defensed in a single season.