NFL Nation: 2010 Week 13 High Energy NFC

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 13.

Part of it might be his position. But part of it is just the way Brent Grimes plays the game.

Grimes
Grimes
The Atlanta cornerback always seems to be around the ball and that was especially true in Sunday’s victory against Tampa Bay. With the Buccaneers driving with a chance to take the lead late in the game, Grimes made sure that didn’t happen.

On the first play after the two-minute warning, Grimes intercepted Josh Freeman at the 19-yard line and returned the ball 33 yards. That allowed the Falcons to run out the clock and improve to 10-2.

Grimes also was credited with seven tackles and six passes defended. He also made a very acrobatic play on what appeared to be an interception earlier in the game. Officials initially said Grimes made the interception. But the call was overturned on a replay challenge.
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 13.

[+] EnlargeSidney Rice
Bruce Kluckhohn/US PresswireSidney Rice's two spectacular touchdown grabs helped Minnesota beat the Bills.
Green Bay Packers receiver Donald Driver had the play of the week in the NFC North, rumbling and stumbling for a 61-yard highlight-reel touchdown in a blowout of the San Francisco 49ers. Were it not for that play, however, I think more people would be talking about the pair of spectacular catches Minnesota Vikings receiver Sidney Rice made in a blowout of the Buffalo Bills.

In his first two games after returning from hip surgery, Rice quietly caught four passes for 76 yards. But on Sunday, he gathered in a 31-yard touchdown over two Bills defenders, made a diving 6-yard touchdown reception and finished with five catches for 105 yards.

It was not only a reminder of the kind of play Rice made routinely during his breakout season in 2009, but also a good encapsulation of what the Vikings missed during the first nine games of the season. In many ways, their struggles started when Rice couldn't overcome the injury during offseason rehabilitation and eventually was forced to have surgery in late August.

Who knows how the Vikings' season would have gone if Rice's ability to turn bad throws into great catches had been available from the start.

NFC West High Energy Player of the Week

December, 7, 2010
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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 13.

The Seattle Seahawks needed someone to put them over the top following a lackluster start against previously 1-10 Carolina.

[+] EnlargeSeattle Seahawks Lofa Tatupu
AP Photo/Ted S. WarrenLofa Tatupu's interception for a touchdown sparked the Seahawks to a a 31-14 victory against Carolina.
Lofa Tatupu was that someone.

The Seahawks' middle linebacker picked off Jimmy Clausen's pass intended for fullback Tony Fiammetta and returned the interception 26 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. Seattle never trailed again, cruising to a 31-14 victory that kept the Seahawks tied for the NFC West lead.

"I was fortunate enough to be the man with man coverage on the fullback at the time," Tatupu told reporters after the game. "It was kind of like a pick-route, which usually allows the fullback to get over out into the flat, usually by himself or with a man trailing. I just got over clean enough where I said, 'If the quarterback throws this ball and I turn around, I’m going. And I'm just going to take my shot.' And so I did."

Playing hurt and behind a depleted defensive line, Tatupu hasn't played to his three-time Pro Bowl form this season. He almost appeared to jog into the end zone on his interception return, but that might not have been intentional. Tatupu is that beat up. He finished the game Sunday with only two tackles.

But when the Seahawks needed him to make a difference, Tatupu delivered.

"That’s just a classic for him to make, and it couldn’t happen to a better guy," coach Pete Carroll said. "It was a big statement."

NFC East High Energy Player of the Week

December, 7, 2010
12/07/10
3:00
PM ET
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 13.

[+] EnlargeTashard Choice
Scott Boehm/Getty ImagesTashard Choice made a case that he's the best running back on the Cowboys' roster.
Perhaps we'll never know why it took so long for the Dallas Cowboys to give Tashard Choice some significant playing time this season. You'd think all those 2-yard carries for Marion Barber might have done the trick, but interim coach Jason Garrett was firm in saying last week that Choice was the team's third tailback.

Choice forced Garrett to eat those words when he finished with 100 yards on 19 carries in the Cowboys' 38-35 overtime win over the Indianapolis Colts. And I don't think Garrett minded one bit that Choice made the coaches look bad with his performance Sunday. Owner Jerry Jones said last week that Choice wasn't doing enough on special teams. But if he's the first or second back on this team, someone like Lonyae Miller can pick up those special-teams duties.

"I think if you go back and look at Tashard, how he’s played when he’s gotten opportunities, he’s played fairly well," said Garrett. "So seeing him make the runs, both inside and outside, that’s stuff that we’ve seen from him before. He’s a good football player. There’s no question about that."

I think Choice may be the Cowboys' most complete running back at this point. And with his performance in Week 13, he pretty much assured everyone that Barber won't be back in 2011.

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