NFL Nation: 2010 Week 10 High Energy

AFC East High Energy Player of the Week

November, 16, 2010
NFC High Energy: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A look at a player who gave his team a significant boost in Week 10.

For the first time all season, Fred Jackson looked like a feature back.

The Buffalo Bills committed to Jackson when they traded starter Marshawn Lynch to the Seattle Seahawks after Week 4, but Jackson's numbers didn't materialize.

[+] EnlargeFred Jackson
Timothy T. Ludwig/US PresswireFred Jackson scored both of Buffalo's touchdowns in their first win of the year.
Jackson had topped 70 yards twice since the trade, but his per-carry average was substandard. He had no touchdowns through his first three starts. In the game he finally did punch through, he ran eight times for 16 yards.

On Sunday, Jackson busted out.

Jackson propelled the Bills to their first victory of the season by scoring both of their touchdowns in a 14-12 victory over the Detroit Lions in Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Jackson ran 25 times for 133 yards and one touchdown. He had six receptions for 37 yards and a touchdown. He also fumbled twice, losing one. But that didn't matter in the end.

"I wouldn't say I felt like I owed my team, but I felt like I needed to come out and play a little harder," Jackson said. "I felt like I had to go to another level, and I feel like I've got to play like that for the rest of the year."

Jackson became only the sixth Bills running back to gain 150 yards from scrimmage and score a touchdown on the ground and on a pass play.

Jackson also fought through a knee injury that forced him out of the game for a third-quarter series. A pulled hamstring already had sidelined rookie running back C.J. Spiller, leaving the Bills to Quinton Ganther, a recently signed street free agent. Thankfully for the Bills, Jackson returned.

"He is such a warrior," Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said. "His production has not been where he probably wants to be at this year. He had a huge day on the ground, made a nice touchdown run after the catch and he got dinged up in the game, too.

"Everybody loves the guy, and you can't say enough about him."

NFC East High Energy Player of the Week

November, 16, 2010
NFC High Energy: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A look at a player who gave his team a significant boost in Week 10.

Since I dedicated my column last night to Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick and his remarkable performance against the Washington Redskins, let's go with Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant for our prestigious High Energy Player of the Week.

[+] EnlargeDez Bryant
AP Photo/James D SmithDez Bryant has proved he has the ability to score any time he touches the ball.
In the first quarter of Sunday's 33-20 win in the Meadowlands, Bryant had a 45-yard catch that set up his acrobatic 13-yard touchdown. Quarterback Jon Kitna delivered the ball into the end zone, and Bryant used his strength and leaping ability to snatch the ball at its highest point. Kitna, who had a brilliant day, already trusts Bryant to the point where he'll throw the ball into traffic so that Bryant can make a play.

I'd say that Bryant has already moved past Roy Williams in terms of production, and he's looking more and more like the club's No. 1 receiver each week. Bryant had three catches for 104 yards in the game. He's capable of scoring from anywhere on the field, and he's given the Cowboys a consistent threat on punt returns as well.

He didn't have a lot of opportunities in the return game Sunday because Giants punter Matt Dodge had a case of the shanks. But you can watch Bryant on the sideline and see how much passion he brings to the game. He's learning a lot from Kitna right now about how to be a professional.

In this lost season, Bryant's one of the few positives. If he keeps this up, he'll be in the mix for rookie of the year voting. I'll hold a High Energy ceremony for Bryant at Valley Ranch on Monday -- if he makes eye contact with me in the locker room.
NFC High Energy: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A look at a player who gave his team a significant boost in Week 10.

[+] EnlargeJacob Tamme
AP Photo/AJ MastJacob Tamme has gathered 24 passes for 245 yards since stepping in to replace Dallas Clark.
Colts tight end Jacob Tamme had another solid outing as the Colts continue to get production out of the tight end position without Dallas Clark.

In Sunday’s 23-17 home win over Cincinnati, Tamme was targeted by Peyton Manning 10 times and caught seven passes for 73 yards -- all team highs.

More significant, Manning leaned on Tamme heavily in the first half as the Colts built a 20-10 lead. Nine of the 10 passes and six of the seven catches came before intermission.

Tamme is certainly not Clark. But as he took over for the Pro Bowler when Clark went on injured reserve with a wrist injury, we knew Tamme had good speed and nice hands. He has made the most of both as he already has turned into a reliable target for Manning.

On a day when the Colts got eight catches and 71 yards combined from Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon and had a five-turnover performance from the defense carry the day, Tamme supplied a quality spark.
NFC High Energy: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A look at a player who gave his team a significant boost in Week 10.

In a game where there were few bright spots for the Pittsburgh Steelers, second-year receiver Mike Wallace put on a show in a losing effort.

[+] EnlargeMike Wallace
AP Photo/Tom E. PuskarMike Wallace caught eight passes for 136 yards in Sunday's loss to New England.
Wallace recorded career highs with eight receptions for 136 yards and two touchdowns in a 39-26 loss to the New England Patriots. Pittsburgh captain and veteran receiver Hines Ward was knocked out of the game with a concussion in the first quarter, and Wallace stepped up as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's new favorite target. Wallace caught two touchdown passes from Roethlisberger for 33 and 15 yards.

The Steelers traded former Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes this offseason because they were confident Wallace could fill those shoes. Wallace has done the job, recording 30 receptions for 643 yards and seven touchdowns. In his first year as a starter, Wallace already has three 100-yard receiving games and is on pace for his first 1,000-yard season.

But Wallace wasn't thrilled in the locker room Sunday night, despite his career game. Pittsburgh was throttled by New England and Wallace was part of last year's team that collapsed at this same point last season. Pittsburgh is 1-2 in its past three games.

"We got to stop it early," Wallace said of avoiding a losing streak. "Last year we just let it come up on us too fast. Things got in over our heads too fast and it was hard to bounce back, especially in the division that we're in.

"Now we know exactly what's coming, and we will talk about not getting down like last year."
NFC High Energy: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

If you could draw up the ideal use for Devin Hester, circa 2010, it would go something like this:
    [+] Enlarge
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesDevin Hester flashed his dangerous return skills against Minnesota, gaining 147 special-teams yards.

  • Offense: Four catches for 38 yards, including a quick slant turned into a 19-yard touchdown
  • Punt returns: Two for 47 yards, including a 42-yarder
  • Kickoff returns: Two, covering 68 and 32 yards

Maybe one day ...

Oh, you're right.

Hester, in fact, put together that exact game in the Chicago Bears' 27-13 victory last Sunday over the Minnesota Vikings, a day that coincided with the team's decision to resurrect him as a kickoff returner. By maximizing his special-teams touches and finding a reasonable number of offensive plays for him, the Bears finally found a blueprint for using his skills moving forward.

If anything, Bears coaches were slow to recognize Hester's resurgent skills. After going two years without a touchdown return, Hester had two in the first six games of this season. He also has an NFL-high five punt returns of 20 or more yards after managing just three in 16 games last season.

It's all good now, however. Even if Hester doesn't return another kick for a score this season, he has at least ensured the king's treatment from opponents. Squib kicks and short punts out of bounds, both tools for limiting Hester's impact, still result in better field position for the Bears.

NFC West High Energy Player of the Week

November, 16, 2010
NFC High Energy: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A look at a player who gave his team a significant boost in Week 10.

Matt Hasselbeck couldn't wait to get back on the field after a concussion sidelined him for the Seattle Seahawks' humiliating 41-7 defeat to the New York Giants.

[+] EnlargeMatt Hasselbeck
Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesMatt Hasselbeck had his most productive game of the season in Sunday's win over Arizona.
It showed Sunday during a potentially pivotal 36-18 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

Hasselbeck's presence and overall strong play energized a Seattle offense that hadn't exceeded 164 yards in either of its previous two games.

The Seahawks finished with 490 yards, easily a season high. Hasselbeck passed for 333 yards, his highest total since 2007 and tied for the 10th-highest total of his career. He averaged 9.8 yards per attempt, his highest average in a game since 2005.

"When I look back at this game, the thing that stands out the most is really Matt's performance," coach Pete Carroll told reporters Monday.

Before this season, Hasselbeck had almost never played with a wide receiver possessing Mike Williams' combination of size and strong hands. Most of Hasselbeck's throws relied more on timing than exploiting physical mismatches in the secondary. The one time Hasselbeck did have a super-sized target at wide receiver, in 2005, he helped Joe Jurevicius set a career single-season high for receptions.

Williams has allowed Hasselbeck to throw more aggressively without risking interceptions. The two connected 11 times Sunday for 145 yards.

Seattle's offense dropped off when Hasselbeck left the game after suffering two cracked bones in his left wrist. Hasselbeck found Williams four times for 54 yards after returning in the second half. The Seahawks expect him to start against New Orleans in Week 11. As Hasselbeck showed Sunday, they'll need him.
NFC High Energy: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A look at a player who gave his team a significant boost in Week 10.

He began the season slowly, not even getting his first career start until Oct. 10. But Tampa Bay rookie wide receiver Arrelious Benn has come on fast in recent weeks and that became even more obvious Sunday.

Benn caught a touchdown pass from Josh Freeman in the first half of Tampa Bay’s victory against Carolina. It was further proof that the second-round draft pick from Illinois is on his way to success in the NFL.

It marked the second straight week Benn has caught a touchdown pass. He and fourth-round pick Mike Williams are starting to give the Buccaneers a dynamic young tandem at wide receiver.

Throw in veteran tight end Kellen Winslow and it looks like the Bucs have done a nice job of giving Freeman the kind of receiving corps that should make the quarterback very productive.
NFC High Energy: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A look at a player who gave his team a significant boost in Week 10.

[+] EnlargeKnowshon Moreno
Ron Chenoy/US PresswireKnowshon Moreno had his first NFL game with more than 100 yards rushing.
During pregame warm-ups in Denver on Sunday, I noticed a player on the field, bouncing up and down. Players often show vigor before a game, but Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno was moving around like he couldn’t wait for the game to start.

The guy must have known something.

The No. 12 overall pick in 2009 had his best NFL game. Moreno notched his first 100-plus rushing game as he finished with 106 yards on 22 carries in Denver’s 49-29 win over the first-place Chiefs. Moreno added 50 yards on three catches, including a 23-yard play in which he showed he could pound his way into the end zone.

Moreno ran as hard as he has since he started his NFL career. Moreno and his offensive line are finally healthy, so perhaps this is a sign of things to come. Denver, which had a season-high 154 rushing yards Sunday, certainly needs Moreno to keep it up. It entered Sunday’s game ranked dead last in the NFL on the ground.