Six secondary standouts from football’s week that was:
1. Xavier Rhodes, CB, Vikings (NFL) — Clinging to a 13-10 lead late in the first half and backed up against their own goal line, Minnesota needed a big play to avoid falling behind to the Cardinals in what could’ve been their fifth straight loss.
Rhodes made that play.
His interception at the goal line and 100-yard return for a touchdown allowed the Vikings to go ahead 20-10, and they would never trail in Sunday’s 30-24 victory. Rhodes had another interception in the second half, finishing the game with three tackles and two picks.
2. Malik Hooker & Gareon Conley, Ohio State (NCAA) — Hooker, a sophomore safety, intercepted the pass that would’ve given Michigan State a lead on a 2-point conversion attempt late in the fourth quarter. Conley, a junior cornerback, intercepted the pass that turned out to be the Spartans’ final play as the 2nd-ranked Buckeyes held on for a 17-16 victory on Saturday.
3. Rafael Bush, S, Lions (NFL) — Detroit needed its special teams and defense to carry the load for most of Sunday’s 26-19 win over the Jaguars until the offense woke up in the fourth quarter. Bush did his part with a 39-yard interception return for a touchdown that broke a 9-9 tie in the third quarter.
Rafael looked more like Reggie Bush on his pick-six, throwing some video-game jukes on Jacksonville’s would-be tacklers, tip-toeing the sideline and breaking another tackle on his way into the end zone.
Bush also had four tackles, including one tackle for loss.
4. Kevin King, CB, Washington (NCAA) — Until somebody does something better, every one-handed catch must now be ranked on the Odell Beckham Jr. Scale of One-Handed Catches. King’s one-handed interception against Arizona State on Saturday wasn’t quite OBJ-level, but was pretty impressive for the vertical leap, body control and sideline footwork involved.
King should also get high marks for the fact that he’s a DB and not a receiver, and extra credit for the play’s importance. The interception prevented a touchdown and is credited with being the spark that pushed the slow-starting Huskies to a 44-18 victory that kept them in the national championship playoff picture.
5. Chris Conte, SS, Buccaneers (NFL) — Conte’s fourth-quarter interception in the end zone prevented the Chiefs from getting a go-ahead touchdown when the Bucs were on the verge of losing a two-point lead, and his 53-yard return helped set up the Tampa Bay touchdown that gave the Bucs some breathing room in Sunday’s 19-17 victory. Conte finished with a team-high seven tackles.
6. Tristan Jackson, DB, Ottawa (CFL) — Any media member responsible for telling the story of Ottawa’s 35-23 win over Edmonton in the CFL’s Eastern Final on Sunday had to have had a tough time resisting the obvious “dashing through the snow” line.
Jackson’s 76-yard punt return for a touchdown on the snow-covered field didn’t look nearly as difficult.
The 5-foot-8 speedster from Central Arkansas caught the punt, surveyed the scene briefly, found his lane and burst through the middle of the Eskimos’ coverage team untouched for the score. A part-time defensive back and full-time kick returner, Jackson is a big-play X-factor who will help the Redblacks try to win the Grey Cup championship after the team fell short in last year’s title game.