Six secondary standouts from football’s week that was:
Harrison Smith, FS, Vikings (NFL): Back on the field after missing the better part of three games with a knee injury, Smith — along with fellow returning starters LB Anthony Barr and DT Linval Joseph — sparked Minnesota’s defense in Sunday’s 49-17 rout of the Giants. Smith had five tackles and 35-yard interception return for a touchdown as the Vikings clinched a playoff berth and will next play the Packers for the NFC North title.
Jimmy Smith, CB, Ravens (NFL): Smith had a 101-yard pick-six that not only would’ve been the signature moment of Sunday’s 20-17 upset victory over the Steelers, it would’ve probably been the highlight of the Ravens’ season if it hadn’t been called back to to a teammate lining up offsides. Even without that play in the books, Smith still shined with one interception (that counted), two pass breakups, and limiting Pittsburgh star WR Antonio Brown to seven catches for 61 yards and no TDs.
Rontavious Atkins, SS, Western Michigan (NCAA): Atkins’ interception in the fourth quarter was sandwiched by a pair of 1-yard touchdown runs by RB Jamauri Bogan that lifted the Broncos to a 45-31 victory over Middle Tennessee State in the Bahamas Bowl. The senior Atkins also had seven tackles.
Darrelle Revis, CB, Jets (NFL): The media did its best to whip up some bad blood between Revis and former teammate Tom Brady before their Sunday’s matchup between the Jets and Patriots. For their part, both professionals downplayed any sort of personal rivalry. But if we wanted to make it a 1-on-1 thing, Revis got the W this round thanks to an interception and helping keep every New England wide receiver under 70 yards in New York’s 26-20 overtime victory.
Kris Givens, CB, Akron (NCAA): Givens broke up one pass by Utah State QB Chuckie Keeton that seemed like a sure touchdown and intercepted another in the Zips’ 23-21 victory over the Aggies in the Idaho Potato Bowl on Dec. 22. The senior corner added six tackles.
Jerraud Powers, CB, Cardinals (NFL): You’d never know Arizona’s secondary was banged up — missing starting safeties Rashad Johnson and Tyrann Mathieu due to injuries — the way they played in Sunday’s 38-8 rout of the Packers. Blanket coverage and aggressive ball-hawking forced Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers into one of his worst games as a pro, as he went 15-of-28 for 151 yards with a touchdown and an interception, got sacked eight times, fumbled three times, and posted a QB Rating of 9.4 out of 100. Powers played his part with two fumble recoveries, one of which he returned for a touchdown.