NFL Nation: 2010 Week 16 High Energy AFC

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 16.

The supporting cast around Indianapolis' defensive stars has been playing better, and it’s spurred the team’s surge.

[+] EnlargeRobert Mathis
AP Photo/Greg TrottThe season may be winding down, but Robert Mathis seemed as fresh as ever against the Raiders.
But in a 31-26 victory at Oakland, one of those stars provided a major spark as the Raiders struggled to find any points on offense.

Robert Mathis forced two incomplete passes by hitting Jason Campbell's arm as he threw. He had 1.5 sacks. He tracked fullback Marcel Reece down on a screen pass and tackled him for no gain at the sideline. He chased Campbell down from behind on a third down to stop a scramble short of a first down. He made a tackle for no gain.

In a division where several high-quality pass-rushers haven’t been able to make it to the end -- Mario Williams (sports hernia), Aaron Kampman (knee) and Dave Ball (concussion) are all on injured reserve -- Mathis looked like he was as fresh as he was on opening day.

His energy was excellent and his ability to not only get to the quarterback, but to disrupt his passes when he gets there is uncanny.

Dominic Rhodes was a solid candidate on a weekend in which the Colts were the AFC South’s lone winner, but Mathis is our High Energy Player of the Week.

Mathis and Indianapolis are now in a win-and-in game against the Titans Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

AFC East High Energy Player of the Week

December, 28, 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 16.

The High Energy Player of the Week award has drawn voluminous response since readers took over the vote last month. The votes haven't always been close, but the discussion was lively.

[+] EnlargeRob Gronkowski
AP Photo/Don HeupelWith friends and family in the stands, tight end Rob Gronkowski had a big game, scoring two TDs.
Until this week, that is.

With just one AFC East team winning Sunday, the candidates were limited and straightforward. New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski beat out teammate Danny Woodhead.

Gronkowski recorded four receptions for 54 yards and two touchdowns in a 34-3 victory over the Buffalo Bills.

The rookie standout from suburban Buffalo was playing in Ralph Wilson Stadium for the first time.

With his parents, two brothers and friends in the stands, he should have scored a 77-yard touchdown on New England's first play from scrimmage. Gronkowski broke free up the seam and was wide open, but Tom Brady badly underthrew him.

Gronkowski said the afternoon made him "Mad excited. Playing at home, playing in front of the family, it's just great going home and scoring twice in front of them. I mean, it's a dream come true. I never thought this was going to happen when I was back in high school or college. This is amazing."
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 16:

[+] EnlargeEric Berry
AP Photo/Ed ZurgaThe Titans never recovered after Eric Berry's pick six in the second quarter.
It’s fitting that the player who gave the Kansas City Chiefs a huge dose of high energy on the day they clinched the AFC West championship is rookie safety Eric Berry.

Berry has been the showcase player of a terrific rookie class that both gave the Chiefs an immediate boost and hope for a bright future. The No. 5 overall pick put an exclamation point on a stellar season with a 54-yard interception return for a touchdown to give the Chiefs a 24-point lead over the Tennessee Titans late in the first half. Kansas City went on to win 34-14 and clinched its first division championship three hours later when the the Cincinnati Bengals upset the San Diego Chargers.

After the Chiefs took a 24-0 lead half way through the second quarter, the Titans scored a touchdown. The Titans held Kansas City scoreless in its ensuing drive. Tennessee was trying to cut the deficit to 10 points when Berry intercepted a short pass from Kerry Collins at the 50-yard line. Berry took it and rumbled right through Tennessee’s offense, stumbling and bumbling his way to the end zone. The New Arrowhead Stadium crowd erupted as teammates mobbed Berry.

It was a highlight on a day of major celebration in Kansas City.
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 16.

Of all the High Energy Players of the Week in the AFC North this season, this by far was the most surprising.

[+] EnlargeJerome Simpson
AP Photo/Ed ReinkeBengals receiver Jerome Simpson celebrates one of his two TD receptions against San Diego.
Cincinnati Bengals third-year receiver Jerome Simpson, who entered Week 16 with three career receptions, exploded with six catches for 124 yards and two touchdowns in Cincinnati's 34-20 upset win over the San Diego Chargers. Simpson is the first Bengals player to be selected this season as the division's High Energy Player.

Simpson, a second-round pick in 2008, has been slow to develop and spent a majority of this season inactive or on the bench behind veteran receivers Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens. But with both starters injured, Simpson is taking advantage of the opportunity and making a case to be part of Cincinnati's rebuilding efforts in 2011.

Surprisingly, the Bengals are on a two-game winning streak with quarterback Carson Palmer throwing to younger receivers Simpson, Andre Caldwell and Jordan Shipley. It makes you wonder how the coaching staff wasn't aware of players like Simpson until the final weeks of the season.

Previous AFC North High Energy Players

Week 1: Ray Lewis, LB, Baltimore Ravens

Week 2: Troy Polamalu, S, Steelers

Week 3: Brett Keisel, DE, Steelers

Week 4: Peyton Hillis, RB, Browns

Week 5: Ray Rice, RB, Ravens

Week 6: Lawrence Timmons, LB, Steelers

Week 7: Ed Reed, S, Ravens

Week 8: Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Steelers

Week 9: Hillis, RB, Browns

Week 10: Mike Wallace, WR, Steelers

Week 11: James Harrison, LB, Steelers

Week 12: Hillis, RB, Browns

Week 13: Terrell Suggs, DE/LB, Ravens

Week 14: Polamalu, S, Steelers

Week 15: Rice, RB, Ravens

Week 16: Simpson, WR, Bengals


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