Six secondary standouts from football’s week that was:
Josh Shaw, DB, Bengals (NFL): The last time you probably heard Shaw’s name, it was in connection to the drama he created for himself at USC when he made up a story about jumping from a second-story balcony to save his drowning nephew, injuring both ankles in the process. (You could almost hear the “Baywatch” music in the background.)
Turns out, Shaw really hurt his ankle jumping from a balcony to avoid the cops. The injuries and accompanying suspension cost him all but three games of his senior season, but the Bengals still took Shaw with a fourth-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft and have since utilized his talents as a versatile DB who can play corner and safety.
On Sunday, Shaw had his biggest game as a pro. His touchdown-saving tackle on Jets RB Bilal Powell in the first quarter prevented Cincinnati from falling into a 14-0 hole. (The Bengals blocked a field goal on the next play.) Then in the final minute of the fourth quarter, Shaw’s sideline interception sealed the Bengals’ 23-22 victory.
Eddie Jackson, SS, Alabama (NCAA): Just like last week against USC, the Crimson Tide didn’t really break open their Week 2 rout of Western Kentucky until a pick-six well into the first half. Jackson’s 55-yard interception return for a touchdown put ‘Bama up 17-3 in the second quarter, getting the Tide rolling on its way to a 38-10 victory.
Chris Harris Jr., CB, Broncos (NFL): The biggest defense-related story line from Denver’s 21-20 win over Carolina in the NFL season opener on Thursday was how the Broncos bashed Cam Newton about the head without getting flagged.
Not talked about as much was the performance of Harris, who had three pass breakups and whose fourth-quarter interception led to Denver’s go-ahead touchdown. The 5-foot-10 Harris’ blanket coverage of 6-foot-5 receiver Kelvin Benjamin in the second half was a big part of the Broncos being able to slow down the Panthers’ offense and make a comeback.
Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State (NCAA): While the Buckeyes’ offense didn’t look great throughout Saturday’s 48-3 blowout over Tulsa, the defense took care of business by keeping the Golden Hurricanes out of the end zone and making a few visits of their own.
Ohio State had two pick-sixes, one of them a 40-yarder by Lattimore, who finished the day with two interceptions. Lattimore’s first pick was on Tulsa’s first offensive play of the game, and the one he took back to the house came in the second quarter. Lattimore, a sophomore, was named Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week.
Tyler Horton, CB, Boise State (NCAA): It was pretty impressive that Washington State QB Luke Falk threw the ball 71 times against Boise State on Saturday without his right arm going numb. It was equally impressive that Falk was only intercepted once.
That lone interception happened in the first quarter on WSU’s first offensive drive, and Horton returned it 85 yards for the game’s first touchdown. The Broncos never trailed after that and held on for a 31-28 victory. Horton, a sophomore, added five tackles.
Marcus Peters, CB, Chiefs (NFL): The eyes of NFL fans and media were fixed on every team’s sideline before every one of Sunday’s kickoffs, with it being 9/11 and with the possibility of more players joining Colin Kaepernick’s lead to protest America’s systematic racism during the national anthem.
Peters, the reigning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, made the boldest and best statement of the day before Kansas City’s game against the Chargers when he linked his left arm with a teammate (as all the Chiefs did) while raising his right arm and holding up a black-gloved fist during the anthem. It was silent, it was peaceful, and it said everything it needed to say.
Dolphins safety Michael Thomas joined three teammates in kneeling during the anthem, Patriots safety Devin McCourty joined a teammate in raising their gloved fists after the anthem, and Titans cornerback Jason McCourty (twin brother of Devin) joined two teammates in raising their fists on the sideline.
But the image of Peters, by himself but still connected to his team, drew the sharpest memories of the iconic 1968 Olympic protest by U.S. sprinters John Carlos and Tommie Smith.