Six secondary standouts from football’s week that was:
Eric Berry, FS, Chiefs (NFL): He had already beaten cancer, made it back to the NFL, and made it back into Kansas City’s starting lineup. In the Chiefs’ 23-13 win over the Steelers on Sunday, Berry reached another milestone when he grabbed his first interception since being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma last December. The three-time Pro Bowler also had a team-high six tackles.
Lance Austin, DB, Georgia Tech (NCAA): Last week, it was Michigan State freshman DB Jalen Watts-Jackson whose unbelievable special-teams play — a 38-yard touchdown return of a botched punt as time expired to beat Michigan — seemed like a lock for college football’s play of the year. This week, it was Georgia Tech sophomore Austin who made another miracle happen. The Yellow Jackets were tied with Florida State with six seconds left as the favored Seminoles lined up for a 56-yard field goal. The kick was blocked, and Austin picked it up. Seventy-eight yards later, with no time on the clock, he crossed the goal line to give Tech a wild 22-16 victory.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Giants (NFL): For as much as he has bounced around the league — he’s now on his fourth NFL team in eight seasons as a pro — DRC has consistently shown a knack for making big plays on big stages. In the Giants’ 27-20 win over the Cowboys on Sunday, Rodgers-Cromartie had two interceptions (giving him 23 for his career) and took one of them back 58 yards for a touchdown (his seventh career TD).
Houston Cougars (NCAA): You might have seen Houston’s 59-10 rout of Central Florida crawl across a TV screen on Saturday and pictured an offensive onslaught, but it was the defense — the secondary in particular — that both set the tone and maintained the dominance to keep the Cougars undefeated this season. Junior cornerback Brandon Wilson opened the scoring with an 85-yard fumble return for a touchdown; senior cornerback William Jackson III and sophomore safety Khalil Williams each had interceptions that set up scores late in the first half; and senior safety Adrian McDonald recorded eight tackles and one interception.
Kyle Wilson, CB, Saints (NFL): For Griff Whalen, the Colts receiver who was involved in the now-infamous “WTFake Punt” last week against the Patriots, his run of SMH-worthy plays extended to Sunday’s game against the Saints. Whalen fumbled a kickoff return that was recovered by Wilson. Soon after that, Wilson put the capper on Colts QB Andrew Luck’s horrendous first half by intercepting one of Luck’s passes in the end zone. That play kept Indianapolis scoreless going into halftime, and the Saints held on in the second half for a 27-21 victory.
Deondre Singleton, S, Duke (NCAA): In the fourth overtime of Saturday’s thriller against Virginia Tech, the Blue Devils allowed a touchdown that gave the Hokies a 43-37 lead. But on the (mandatory) two-point conversion attempt, Singleton broke up the pass thrown by QB Michael Brewer. That play opened the door for Duke to win the game 45-43 after converting its two-point try following the tying touchdown. Singleton, a junior, also had 12 tackles in the victory that made Duke bowl-eligible.