NFL Nation: 2010 Week 4 High Energy

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 4.

[+] EnlargeShaun Phillips
AP Photo/Denis PoroyChargers linebacker Shaun Phillips terrorized Arizona's QBs.
San Diego linebacker Shaun Phillips was all over the field Sunday in a 41-10 Chargers victory against visiting Arizona.

Phillips had four of San Diego's nine sacks. He also made his impact felt on the scoreboard with an incredible two-play sequence late in the second quarter.

On the first play, he brought down Arizona quarterback Derek Anderson for his second sack of the game. On the next play, Phillips dropped back into coverage and hurt the shell-shocked Anderson again. Phillips caught an errant pass and darted 31 yards for a touchdown to give the Chargers a commanding 28-7 lead. Anderson never saw the field again as he was replaced by rookie Max Hall.

Phillips made Hall pay too, with two more sacks.

Phillips stepped up big when his team needed him. The Chargers had only four healthy linebackers as fellow outside linebackers Shawne Merriman (calf) and Larry English (foot) were out of the game. But in the end, Phillips more than made up for the two linebackers’ absence.
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 4:

[+] EnlargeTiquan Underwood
AP Photo/Stephen MortonTiquan Underwood was instrumental in the Jaguars' game-winning drive.
Maurice Jones-Drew ran well. David Garrard made smart and safe throws. Anthony Smith and Gerald Alexander combined on a couple of takeaways. And Josh Scobee boomed a 59-yard field goal as time expired to give Jacksonville an upset over the Colts at EverBank Field on Sunday.

The one significant contributor we haven’t talked about a lot who did a great deal to spark the final scenario was receiver and return man Tiquan Underwood.

He brought Pat McAfee's kickoff back 29 yards to the Jaguars’ 23-yard line with 48 seconds left in regulation, then was the target on all four of Garrard’s throws on the final drive.

Underwood accounted for 28 of the team’s 36 yards that positioned Scobee for the game-winning kick, including a 22-yard reception in which he got between Indianapolis defensive backs Jacob Lacey and Antoine Bethea to make the catch on the left sideline and get out of bounds to stop the clock.

The second-year receiver was a seventh-round draft pick from Rutgers and qualifies as Jacksonville’s deep threat. But the Jaguars conceded in this game that Garrard wasn’t going to throw the ball down the field effectively, and kept him in his comfort zone with short stuff.

Another second-year receiver, Mike Thomas, is better suited to such an approach and he was targeted seven times, leading the team with five catches for 68 yards. Garrard looked to Underwood five times, connecting on three of the attempts.

The 22-yarder at the end was the team’s longest pass play of the game.
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 4.

[+] EnlargeFred Robbins
Elsa/Getty ImagesSt. Louis' Fred Robbins was a regular in Seattle's offensive backfield on Sunday.
Sam Bradford's two touchdown passes and Steven Jackson's gritty play became dominant storylines following the St. Louis Rams' 20-3 victory over the Seattle Seahawks.

How about a little recognition for the defense?

Defensive tackle Fred Robbins edges out equally deserving defensive end James Hall as my choice for NFC West High Energy Player of the Week.

Robbins disrupted the Seahawks' running game, which averaged only 2.7 yards per attempt. He tackled Leon Washington for a 1-yard loss on third-and-1. He stopped Washington for no gain another time. Robbins tipped two passes, knocked down Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck once and made the game-clinching fumble recovery.

Overall, Robbins gave the Rams exactly what they wanted from him when St. Louis signed the veteran as a free agent from the New York Giants.

Hall was also impressive. He capitalized on the Seahawks' problems at offensive tackle, collecting 2.0 sacks and forcing the fumble Robbins recovered.
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 4.

[+] EnlargeCarney
Chuck Cook/US PresswireJohn Carney made it look easy on Sunday, connecting on all three of his field goal attempts.
A little over a week ago, 46-year-old John Carney was sitting on his couch in San Diego and watching football on television.

On Sunday, he made all three field goal attempts, including a last-second, game-winning kick for the New Orleans Saints. The game marked the third, and most unlikely, stint with the Saints for Carney. Retirement seemed like a real possibility after Carney didn’t get any offers to sign in the offseason and the preseason didn’t create any new openings.

But Carney continued working out on his own and waiting for the phone to ring. It did after Garrett Hartley missed a short overtime kick in a Week 3 loss to Atlanta. Carney was a logical choice because of his ties to the Saints and the fact that he and Hartley have worked together in the past.

The Saints still are hoping Hartley can work out his accuracy issues and are keeping him on the roster. Carney may only be a short-term solution as well as a mentor for Hartley.

But, at least for one week, Carney was able to come in and give the Saints a spark -- and a victory.

NFC East High Energy Player of the Week

October, 5, 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 4.

Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan drafted running back Ryan Torain from Arizona State in 2008 and he was quite familiar with the player's injury history. Because of that knowledge, Shanahan gambled that he could hide Torain on the practice squad to start this season.

[+] EnlargeTorain
Howard Smith/US PresswireRyan Torain set the tone for the Redskins on offense against the Eagles.
When the running back was promoted to the 53-man roster in Week 3, he made an immediate impact against the St. Louis Rams with seven carries for 46 yards. On Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles, Torain set the tone for an upset win by bowling over safety Quintin Mikell on his way to a 12-yard touchdown in the first quarter. This was an offense searching for an identity and Torain's 18 carries for 70 yards and a touchdown provided that in a huge game.

"I guarantee he will not be put on the practice squad the rest of this season," Shanahan said after Sunday's game.

Torain ran with power and speed. He may end up saving Shanahan, because the coach made the curious decision to sign veterans Larry Johnson and Willie Parker -- both since cut -- this past offseason. If Clinton Portis continues to have injury issues, there's a good chance Torain will become the feature back for the Redskins.

On Sunday, it was his punishing style that helped stake Washington to a 17-6 halftime lead. And that's why he edges out NFC East stalwarts Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck, Albert Haynesworth and Lorenzo Alexander for this week's award.
NFC High Energy: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

He's been the bully of the AFC North this season, punishing defenders and breathing life into an otherwise struggling Cleveland Browns offense.

[+] EnlargePeyton Hillis
Matt Sullivan/Getty ImagesPeyton Hillis has rushed for at least 100 yards in each of the past two games.
Burly 250-pound running back Peyton Hillis -- coming off back-to-back 100-yard performances -- is this week's High Energy Player in the division. He's eighth in the NFL in rushing with 322 yards and averaging 4.9 yards per carry, which is tops in the AFC North.

The Browns (1-3) are certainly not without issues, but one thing they have is an offensive identity. Hillis gives Cleveland a go-to player on offense as the team deals with injuries at quarterback and lack of talent at receiver. Opposing defenses know they will get a steady dose of Hillis, but the Browns remain effective running the football.

Hillis has been the best roster move made so far by first-year Browns president Mike Holmgren and general manager Tom Heckert. Cleveland traded quarterback Brady Quinn to the Denver Broncos this offseason for Hillis and a sixth-round draft pick.

After four games, there's no question Hillis has quickly established himself as Cleveland's best offensive skill player.

AFC East High Energy Player of the Week

October, 5, 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 4.

Never in a bazillion years did Dolfans think they ever would gaze onto the Sun Life Stadium field and wonder "Man, why did we cut Rob Ninkovich?"

The Miami Dolphins, in fact, waived Ninkovich twice in 2008. He landed with the New England Patriots last year as a role player at outside linebacker.

He played a huge role Monday night, enjoying the greatest game of his career against a former team. Relatively speaking, his game almost was bigger than his entire career to date.

Rob Ninkovich
Marc Serota/Getty ImagesRob Ninkovich produced a pair of interceptions and a sack against his former team Monday night.
Ninkovich, a fifth-year pro who'd never started a game until this year, recorded his first two NFL interceptions and added a sack in New England's 41-14 blowout at Miami.

Ninkovich caught more balls than Randy Moss did.

"Yeah, if we ever have injuries at receiver or tight end or need guys there I guess we can call on Rob," Patriots receiver Wes Welker said. "He has great hands. He had a great game, and everything that was in the air he pounced on."

How rare is it for any player to have a pair of interceptions and a sack in a game? Ninkovich was the first to do it this year.

Green Bay Packers cornerback Charles Woodson was the only one to do it last year, and he was the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year while Ninkovich was compiling a grand total of 10 tackles for the season.

A two-interception, one-sack game has been recorded once before in Patriots history: by Otis Smith in 2002.

And here's another reason the Dolphins could've used Ninkovich on Monday night. He's a solid special-teams performer. In case you hadn't heard, the Dolphins had problems on kickoffs, punts and field goals Monday night.

"You know, I was here as a practice-squad guy," Ninkovich said. "Now that I'm here playing against them, it feels pretty good."




Thursday, 9/18
Sunday, 9/21
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