The Karim Abdul-Jabbar Files - NFL Week 3 Under The Radar
Does anyone really remember how good he was without looking that up? Not many.
That’s why I named this segment after him.
Every week, I will select two players who played a great game, but for various reasons, flew under the radar. These guys will not necessarily be the best two performers of the week. In fact, they typically won’t be, because the very best performers are usually the men that will be praised everywhere by the media. Instead, I aim to give you the two guys that you should’ve heard about, but didn’t.
Detroit Lions TE, third-year player
Brandon Pettigrew missed a couple of days of practice this week due to a shoulder injury, but the Lions are sure glad the big tight end suited up, Sunday. In a game that the Lions trailed 20-0 at halftime, Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, and Pettigrew all came alive offensively to lead the team to its first 3-0 start since 1980.
Despite playing in a hostile, road environment where the Lions hadn’t won since 1997, Pettigrew caught 9 passes for 88 yards in the second half (he caught two additional passes for 24 yards in the first half).
The media has talked a great deal about the electrifying, pass-catch combo of Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson. That’s more than fair. Stafford and Johnson are both rising stars and have connected for six touchdowns in just three games thus far. With that said, it must be noted that without Pettigrew’s effort, Sunday, the Lions would not have won this game.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers CB, 15th-year player
Shout-out to Morgan Burnett who picked off Jay Cutler twice in Green Bay’s win, but Ronde Barber was even bigger for his team on Sunday. In Tampa Bay’s narrow victory over its AFC South rival, the Atlanta Falcons, Barber collected two crucial turnovers and seemed to be pretty much everywhere on the field.
In the third play of the game, the 36-year-old cornerback recovered a Matt Ryan fumble (off a Dekoda Watson sack) deep in Atlanta territory. This Watson sack and subsequent Barber recovery sent an early message to Matt Ryan and company: “We’re going to protect our home turf.” Then, as the Falcons were driving to get into field goal range as the first half was winding down, Barber intercepted a Matt Ryan pass with five seconds remaining. That ensured a 13-3 halftime lead for the Bucs.
Also in the first half, Barber stuffed a reverse to Julio Jones for a nine-yard loss. For good measure, the 15-year player added three additional tackles and three pass deflections. On Sunday, it appeared as if Ronde Barber was young again.
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