Bleacher Report's NFL Awards Week 12: Handing out Hardware
The football of Thanksgiving weekend is in the books, and now it's time to hand the awards to reflect on the action that took place.
There were all the hallmarks of a classic week of play, including some close finishes, some unlikely heroes and some outstanding playmaking.
In addition to the standard awards recognizing the best and worst players and games, this week's awards will also recognize the best replacement of a replacement and best set of kickers.
Here are the awards for the action of Week 12.
Game of the Week: Dallas Cowboys vs. Miami Dolphins
Families home at Thanksgiving got a real treat Thursday, as the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins put on a great game that went down right to the finish.
The Cowboys, down 17-19 with only 2:59 left in the game, were led to a winning field goal on a nice drive from quarterback Tony Romo and running back DeMarco Murray.
Romo connected with tight end Jason Witten twice for a total of 29 yards, while Murray added five carries for another 26 yards.
After taking a two-yard loss to set up kicker Dan Bailey, he finished the game with a 27-yarder as time expired.
A great game, and definitely a win for Cowboys fans to be thankful for as they take the edge on the New York Giants (who play Monday night). Fans of the Dolphins should be thankful that the team hasn't done more damage to its draft position.
Honorable Mention: Arizona Cardinals vs. St. Louis Rams, Denver Broncos vs. San Diego Chargers
Stinker Game of the Week: New England Patriots vs. Philadelphia Eagles
This was a slightly difficult category to select this week, as most of the games were competitive deep into the fourth quarter.
With that in mind, the stinker game of the week was the matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots.
The matchup, one of only four to be decided by double digits, turned into a blowout pretty early.
While the Eagles took a healthy 10-0 lead to start, the Patriots responded with 21 straight points, and by the early portion of the third quarter had the game easily in hand.
Dishonorable Mention: Houston Texans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Fake-out of the Week: Marc Mariani and Tommie Campbell
The Tennessee Titans pulled a fast one on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, executing a perfect reverse on a kickoff return to score a touchdown.
The Titans' Marc Mariani initially took the kick, and he moved it 16 yards out of the end zone before handing the ball off to Tommie Campbell, who sprinted it the remaining 84 yards.
Campbell went in nearly untouched, and the return would be a huge difference, as the Titans would win 23-17.
"Nice Catch Guy!" Award: Sherrod Martin
In what is the first time this award has gone to a defensive player, Carolina Panthers safety Sherrod Martin came up huge with this catch against the Indianapolis Colts.
With the Colts on the Panthers' goal line with less than a minute to play, a pass toward the end zone was tipped up in the air.
Martin was able to not only grab the floating pass, but keep his two feet in the end zone with only inches to spare.
The catch ensured the Panthers' win and will go down as another missed opportunity for the Colts to escape a more likely winless season.
Honorable mention: Brad Smith, Anthony Armstrong
Big Play of the Week: Red Bryant
Sometimes there are players whose actions on the field are so massive it's impossible to ignore, and that sentiment is a fair way to describe the play of Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Red Bryant.
In what would be a game decided by less than one touchdown, Bryant was able to block two kicks from the Washington Redskins' Graham Gano.
He blocked a sure 26-yard attempt, and his extra-point block in the fourth quarter kept the Redskins lead to three points late in the fourth quarter.
This is the second time Bryant has received this huge award. He scooped up the award in Week 7 after he blocked two field goals in the Seahawks' game against the Cleveland Browns.
"And the Oscar Goes To…" Award: Jerome Simpson
This award, recognizing special acting on the playing field, was clearly made for the Cincinnati Bengals' Jerome Simpson.
In a scrum for a ball against the Cleveland Browns Sunday, Simpson pulled out the Cleveland Browns Scott Fujita, who immediately tapped him to acknowledge his displeasure with his grab.
Sensing the upcoming hit, Simpson took it upon himself to fling himself like a rag doll.
The referee, seeing Simpson's dramatic lunge, took the only sensible action (I say this with tremendous sarcasm) and threw a flag for the "push."
Take a bow, Jerome Simpson. You deserve a thunderous applause for your tremendous acting skills.
V.I.Pee Award: Nick Novak
When you gotta go, you gotta go, and for San Diego Chargers kicker Nick Novak that meant relieving himself on the team's sideline (all caught by CBS cameras).
While he must surely have felt better after addressing his No. 1 priority, his missed kick in overtime against the Denver Broncos surely left plenty of home fans peed off at this whiz kid's performance.
The Chargers would end up losing 16-13.
Celebration of the Week: Stevie Johnson
The NFL has a reputation of being the No Fun League, so it's nice every once in a while to see a well-thought-out celebration move.
The Buffalo Bills fit the—er—bill Sunday, as Steve Johnson celebrated a touchdown against the New York Jets (who this offseason acquired Plaxico Burress, who had been sent to prison after he shot himself in the foot at a nightclub).
Catching a touchdown pass, Johnson appeared to be shooting in the air, until he accidentally hit himself in the leg with an imaginary bullet.
He then spread his arms and moved down the end zone, mocking the end-zone celebration most frequently used by Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes (although he was flagged for excessive celebration after disobeying league rules on celebrating on the ground).
Overall, a very satisfying celebration to watch. Nicely done.
Read of the Week: Sam Farmer
In one of the league's most interesting matchups this weekend, the Baltimore Ravens, coached by John Harbaugh, played against the San Francisco 49ers, coached by Jim Harbaugh.
It was the first time in league history that a pair of brothers had worked as rival head coaches (and it was their parents' 50th wedding anniversary!).
While it was a close game for most of the evening (albeit very defensively oriented), John's Ravens were able to take the win 16-6.
A profile on the brothers, from the LA Times' Sam Farmer, captures the rivalry that the two have and how they prepared for the big matchup.
"Ouch!" Award: Melissa Kellerman
Dallas Cowboys cheerleader Melissa Kellerman was minding her business on the sideline Thursday afternoon when she was blindsided by Cowboys tight end Jason Witten.
Both were OK after the nasty spill, and they seemed to have a laugh about the collision in the immediate aftermath.
She later tweeted about the incident, which surprisingly irked team officials enough that she was later forced to delete her Twitter account.
Shane Falco Shane Falco Replacement Replacement Award: T.J. Yates
Last week, I announced Tennessee Titans rookie Jake Locker as the winner of the Shane Falco Replacement Award, named in honor of Keanu Reeves' character in the movie The Replacements.
This week, the award goes to Houston Texans quarterback T.J. Yates, who was not only a replacement, but a replacement of a replacement (after quarterback Matt Leinart hurt his collarbone in an injury that may take him out for the year).
He may have had terrible numbers (completing eight of 15 passes for 70 yards and no touchdowns), but he kept the Texans in the game.
He may not have been good, but he was good enough. As the Washington Sentinels learned in the movie, sometimes it's all about surviving to play another game.
Shane Falco Replacement Award: Jared Allen
Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen was called into action Sunday to replace injured long snapper Cullen Loeffler after Loeffler hurt himself early in the team's game against the Atlanta Falcons.
Not only did Allen handle his snap perfectly, he made a tackle on the Falcons' punt return.
"Can I Kick It?" Award: Oakland Raiders
This award, recognizing tremendous kicking, is given to the Oakland Raiders this week in its win over the Chicago Bears.
The team got inspired play from its kicker Sebastian Janikowski and punter Shane Lechler.
Janikowski made six field goals, from 40, 47, 42, 19, 37 and 44 yards, breaking a team record he had previously held with Jeff Jaeger. He also added an extra point.
Lechler was spectacular in his punting, holding off Bears kick returner Devin Hester (a regular in this award column this season) to seven yards on two returns.
He received a huge applause from the home crowd after booming an unreal 80-yard punt.
Clearly, these guys wiped their feet really good on the rhythm rug.
Unclutch Moment of the Week: Caleb Hanie
Caleb Hanie, in his first start since taking over for quarterback Jay Cutler (out for the season with a broken thumb), had done an adequate job of keeping the team competitive against the Oakland Raiders.
His end to the game, however, will be something he'll want to forget.
Moving the team down the field with time slowly running out, Hanie appeared to be spiking the ball to stop the clock.
But as he took the snap, he froze, then decided to throw the ball down. The referees, noticing the pause, threw down a penalty flag.
In addition to getting penalized for the intentional grounding, the play resulted in a 10-second run-off of the clock that ended the game. The Raiders won 25-20.
Dirty Hit of the Week: Ndamukong Suh
In what will be one of the big stories of the next week, the Detroit Lions' Ndamukong Suh was responsible for one of the dirtiest plays of the week.
After getting into a scuffle with Green Bay Packers offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith, Suh was seen slamming Dietrich-Smith's head into the turf.
To make matters worse, Suh was almost seen stomping on Dietrich-Smith's arm as he was getting separated from him.
For his efforts, Suh was immediately ejected from the Thanksgiving Day classic. The Packers would end up winning 27-15.
While he later apologized, it will be interesting to see how the league (who has fined Suh several times for his hits) will punish him. Some have suspected he may see a suspension of as many as two games.
Hurdle Award: Roy Helu
There's a lot to be said for players who can get up for the big matchups, so this award for the jump of the week goes to Washington Redskins running back Roy Helu.
With the team's offense sputtering against the Seattle Seahawks, Helu's touchdown run (which included this spectacular hurdle move), was a major momentum-shifter.
The 28-yard touchdown would bring the Redskins to within three points, and from there another touchdown (a nice catch from wide receiver Anthony Armstrong) and a field goal would give the Redskins a 23-17 win.
Honorable Mention: LeGarrette Blount
Polarity Award: Tim Tebow
This award, recognizing the most polarizing player in the game, goes to Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow.
Tebow, while pedestrian in the passing game, took an NFL quarterback-record 22 carries for 67 yards.
With the Broncos taking the win this week against the San Diego Chargers, Tebow brought his record as a starter to 5-1 this year. While he certainly has his share of detractors (myself included), it's hard to complain about the results.
To clarify, Tebow's run as a starter this season has shown him as two things:
1) A tremendously flawed passer who is better served by a rushing ability that, when tried by other quarterbacks, has historically led to injury and ineffectiveness.
2) A quarterback who can win games.
While it may not be enjoyable to watch if you're a football purist, it's certainly a lot of fun for Broncos fans who previously had little hope for the postseason.
They're currently one game behind the AFC West-leading Oakland Raiders.
MVP: Beanie Wells
The St. Louis Rams clearly planned on limiting the Arizona Cardinals' passing game (and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald), and that strategy left plenty of room for running back Chris "Beanie" Wells to tally up some major yardage.
At the end of the day, he totaled 228 yards on 27 carries, including monster gains of 71 and 53 yards.
The total was a new Cardinals franchise record.
The rushing success was a much-needed boost to an offense that wasn't at its best with John Skelton under center.
Honorable Mention: Tom Brady, Chris Johnson, Patrick Peterson (whose fourth punt return touchdown tied the record for most in a season)
LVP: Blaine Gabbert
It was a tough day for rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert, who found himself on the receiving end of a lot of pressure, which forced plenty of mistakes.
Overall, Gabbert completed less than half of his passes and threw an underwhelming interception pass.
He was also sacked six times in the game.
He was eventually replaced by (previous LVP winner) Luke McCown. The Jaguars would end up losing 20-13.
Dishonorable Mention: John Skelton, Alex Smith, Tyler Palko