Six secondary standouts from football’s week that was:
1. Eric Berry, SS, Chiefs (NFL) — After spending three quarters as supporting cast members on a Cam Newton highlight reel, Berry and the Chiefs defense stepped up in the fourth quarter on Sunday to pave the way for a stunning 20-17 comeback victory over the Panthers.
Kansas City was trailing 17-6 before Berry intercepted a Newton pass and took it back 42 yards for a touchdown. During the return, Berry broke three or four tackles and used two spin moves to get free.
That would turn out to be the Chiefs’ only touchdown of the game, sandwiched between four field goals. Berry finished with a team-high nine tackles, including one tackle for loss, and two pass breakups to go with the pick-six.
2. Horace Richardson, CB, Southern Methodist (NCAA) — The senior cornerback had two pick-sixes in the Mustangs’ 55-31 win over East Carolina on Saturday. Richardson’s 70-yard interception return gave SMU a two-touchdown lead in the second quarter, and his 80-yard INT return made it a three-TD margin in the third quarter.
It was Richardson’s second two-INT game of the season. He also had two picks in SMU’s season-opening win over North Texas. After getting a total of four interceptions in three previous years at SMU, Richardson has seven INTs this season alone.
3. Kareem Jackson, CB, Texans (NFL) — It is no piece of deep football analysis to say the Texans’ offense needs as much help as it can get from the team’s defense to have a chance at winning games. Houston’s D was again up to the task in Sunday’s 24-21 win over the Jaguars, in which Texans QB Brock Osweiler was able to put a W on his resume despite throwing for only 99 yards.
Jackson put Houston on the scoreboard on the fifth play of the game, when he intercepted a pass by Jags QB Blake Bortles and returned it 42 yards for a touchdown — nearly getting caught by the turf monster and then shaking Bortles into #MannequinChallenge mode on the same play. Jackson added six tackles and helped Houston improve to 6-3 and stay in first place in the AFC South.
4. Adoree Jackson, CB, USC (NCAA) — Jackson’s Saturday night experience in Seattle could be edited down into a how-to manual for young defensive backs on the importance of having a short memory.
Early in the second quarter, two-sport star Jackson flashed some of his future-Olympian-potential leaping ability to intercept notoriously accurate Washington QB Jake Browning — who came into the game with 34 TDs versus just three INTs — and set up the Trojans’ first touchdown.
But just in case Jackson was feeling himself a little too much from that play, Huskies WR John Ross did enough damage to humble Jackson over the next several possessions.
Ross, whose speed could put him in Olympic contention if he decided to take up track and field, beat Jackson more than a few times in their one-on-one matchup to finish with eight catches for 154 yards. The highlight of the night for Ross and the lowlight for Jackson came in the third quarter when Ross literally shook Jackson to the ground and burned him for a 70-yard touchdown.
And yet Jackson managed to put that behind him and bounce back. In the fourth quarter, with USC holding onto a lead, Jackson picked off Browning again to help preserve the 20th-ranked Trojans’ 26-13 win over the 4th-ranked Huskies.
5. Denver Broncos (NFL) — Simply put, Denver’s DBs won Sunday’s game against the Saints.
Free safety Darian Stewart had one interception in the first quarter when New Orleans was threatening to score, and another interception in the second quarter that was the result of CB Bradley Roby making a fantastic play on the ball and deflecting it into the air. In the fourth quarter, Roby forced a fumble by Saints WR Michael Thomas that was recovered by Stewart. That set up a game-tying touchdown for Denver.
Later in the fourth, Broncos strong safety T.J. Ward recovered another Thomas fumble, setting up a field goal that put the team ahead by six.
The Saints scored a touchdown with about 1:20 to go that tied it up, but then Denver rookie safety Justin Simmons blocked the extra point, and fellow rookie DB Will Parks picked up the loose ball and ran it back 84 yards for a two-point conversion that proved to the difference in the Broncos’ 25-23 victory.
6. Tony Lippett, CB, Dolphins (NFL) — Lippett snagged two of the four interceptions thrown by Chargers QB Philip Rivers during the fourth quarter of the Dolphins’ 31-24 victory on Sunday.
The first pick ended a goal-line stand early in the fourth, with Lippett intercepting Rivers in the end zone on San Diego’s fifth crack from or inside the 5-yard line. Lippett, who finished with seven tackles, made his second INT on the sideline to end the Chargers’ final drive with about a minute to go.