Pick Six: Players of the Week


Six secondary standouts from football’s week that was:

Steven Parker, SS, Oklahoma (NCAA): With under a minute to go in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game against TCU, the Sooners were clinging to a seven-point lead before giving up a touchdown. But instead of going for the extra point and the tie, TCU went for two and the win. That’s when the sophomore Parker made the play of the day, leaping in front of Horned Frogs QB Bram Kohlhausen and knocking down a pass intended for a receiver who was open in the end zone. Parker’s perfectly-timed play preserved a 30-29 victory for Oklahoma and kept them in the national championship playoff picture.

Bene Benwikere, CB, Panthers (NFL): Still-undefeated Carolina was dang-near flawless in all facets of Sunday’s 44-16 victory over Washington. QB Cam Newton threw five touchdowns to lead the offense, while the defense forced five turnovers. Benwikere made his mark on the first play from scrimmage of the second half when he sacked Washington QB Kirk Cousins, forced a fumble and recovered the fumble all on the same play. That set the table for Newton’s fifth TD pass, and the Panthers would cruise to a 10-0 record.

Chris Conte, FS, Buccaneers (NFL): The second-most impressive NFL team performance of the week was surprisingly turned in by Tampa Bay in its 45-17 rout of Philadelphia. Rookie QB Jameis Winston threw for five TDs, RB Doug Martin rushed for 235 yards, and Conte was one of the defense’s top playmakers with 10 tackles (one for a loss) and one interception.

Cyrus Jones, CB, Alabama (NCAA): The senior had three tackles and one fumble recovery in his final home game at famous Bryant-Denny Stadium, but his biggest impact was made on special teams. Jones, who ranks No. 2 in the nation in punt-return yards (403) this season and now ranks No. 1 in punt-return touchdowns (three), scored twice on punt returns of 43 and 72 yards in Saturday’s 56-6 rout of Charleston Southern.

Brandyn Thompson, CB, Ottawa (CFL): The former Boise State standout and 2011 NFL Draft pick shined in the Redblacks’ 35-28 victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Sunday, collecting six tackles and one interception to help Ottawa earn a spot in next Sunday’s Grey Cup championship game.

Jamar Summers, CB, UConn (NCAA): Good defensive backs have a talent for ruining feel-good stories. Greg Ward Jr., the quarterback who had led Houston to a 10-0 start and had the Cougars knocking on the playoff selection committee’s door, did not start Saturday against UConn due to an ankle injury. But when the Cougars trailed the Huskies late in the fourth quarter and replacement QB Kyle Postma got knocked out of the game with an ankle injury of his own, Ward answered the call to duty. What was building up to be a scene from a Hollywood script — the star QB hobbling back onto the field and gutting out a dramatic victory — fell flat when Summers intercepted Ward on Houston’s final drive to give UConn the 20-17 upset win.

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