Six secondary standouts from football’s week that was:
Bradley Roby, CB, Broncos (NFL): While he did get beaten a few times by Pittsburgh’s Antonio-Brown-less receiving corps in Sunday’s AFC divisional-round playoff game, Roby stepped up and made the single biggest play of the game. The Broncos were trailing the Steelers in the fourth quarter when Roby dislodged the ball from RB Fitzgerald Toussaint, forcing a fumble that set up QB Peyton Manning to drive Denver down for the go-ahead score in their 23-16 victory.
Rashad Johnson, FS, Cardinals (NFL): The bad? Johnson and All-Pro CB Patrick Peterson were the ones who allowed Packers WR Jeff Janis to catch that impossible Hail Mary touchdown that forced overtime in Saturday’s NFC divisional-round playoff game. The good? The Cardinals were still able to get the W, and Johnson had Arizona’s only interception (that counted) against QB Aaron Rodgers as well as adding five tackles in Arizona’s 26-20 overtime victory.
Dee Delaney, CB, The Citadel (NCAA): The sophomore cornerback won the 2015 FCS Elite Defensive Back Award on Wednesday, which is essentially the Jim Thorpe Award for smaller college programs. Delaney recorded 46 tackles this season with five interceptions, eight pass breakups, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one blocked kick. He was a productive playmaker on a defense that finished third among FCS schools with 31 takeaways, for a Bulldogs team that finished 9-4 after losing to Charleston Southern in the second round of the FCS playoffs and scored an upset win over South Carolina of the SEC.
Logan Ryan, CB, and Patrick Chung, SS, Patriots (NFL): Ryan and Chung tied for the team lead with nine tackles each in New England’s 27-20 victory over Kansas City in Saturday’s AFC divisional-round playoff game.
Josh Norman, CB, Panthers (NFL): For the first half of Sunday’s NFC divisional-round playoff game against the Seahawks, the Panthers’ defense was impenetrable, pitching a shutout as Carolina took a 31-0 lead into halftime. The second half was an entirely different story, as the Panthers’ offense couldn’t score and the Seahawks put up 24 points before running out of time to complete another miracle comeback. Only one of Seattle’s second-half drives didn’t result in a score, and that was the one in which Norman (5 tackles) sacked Russell Wilson after realizing no receiver was in his zone and improvising a pass-rush to bring down the elusive quarterback.
Cortland Finnegan, CB, Panthers (NFL): During the Panthers’ flawless first half, Finnegan picked off Wilson to set up a field goal that gave Carolina a 24-0 lead. Finnegan also had six tackles.