Six secondary standouts from football’s week that was:
1. Mike Adams, SS, Colts (NFL) — The Colts kept their playoff hopes alive with a surprising 34-6 domination of the Vikings on the road on Sunday, after which the only debate was whether Indy’s offense or defense was the most impressive group on the field.
One compelling argument in the defense’s favor is that in the highly-anticipated return of Minnesota RB Adrian Peterson, who had been out since Week 2 with a knee injury, the Colts limited the former MVP to just 22 yards on six carries.
Adams contributed six tackles to that effort, and he forced and recovered a fumble by Peterson. Adams also had an interception.
2. Quintin Demps, SS, Texans (NFL) — Things were really no different for the Texans after they benched starting QB Brock Osweiler on Sunday in favor of backup QB Tom Savage. Houston’s defense still needed to do the heavy lifting and ultimately save the day for the Texans to secure another close victory.
With just over one minute to go in the fourth quarter and the Texans hanging into a 21-20 lead, the Jaguars had the ball with 93 yards between them and the end zone. But on the first play of the drive, Demps intercepted Jacksonville QB Blake Bortles, allowing the Texans’ D to get the team another W on a day when their O did just enough not to take an L.
3. Ron Smith, CB, San Diego State (NCAA) — The Las Vegas Bowl on Saturday had potential to be a high-scoring shootout featuring two decorated offensive stars. That potential went only half-fulfilled, thanks in part to SDSU freshman cornerback Smith.
The Aztecs got 115 yards and a touchdown from their star, RB Donnell Pumphrey, who set a new NCAA career rushing record during the 34-10 victory.
Meanwhile, it was a rough day for Houston’s star QB Greg Ward Jr. He was intercepted four times, one of them by Smith, who returned the pick 54 yards for a touchdowns. Smith also had a team-high 10 tackles for the Aztecs.
4. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Packers (NFL) — The most memorable play of Green Bay’s 30-27 win over the Bears on Sunday was QB Aaron Rodgers’ 60-yard completion to WR Jordy Nelson that set up the Packers’ game-winning field goal as time expired.
But there were two earlier defensive plays that helped Green Bay build a big enough lead that Chicago was only in position to tie the game late and not win it.
Clinton-Dix had an interception in the third quarter that set up RB Ty Montgomery’s touchdown that put Green Bay up 20-10. On the Bears’ next possession, Clinton-Dix collected another INT, which set up RB Christine Michael’s TD that gave the Packers a 27-10 lead. That was enough cushion to withstand Chicago’s eventual comeback.
5. Tarvarius Moore, DB, Southern Miss (NCAA) — The Eagles were tied at 14 with Louisiana Lafayette late in the first half of the New Orleans Bowl on Saturday, with the Ragin’ Cajuns driving for what could’ve been a momentum-swinging score.
That was before Moore, a junior, intercepted Louisiana Lafayette QB Anthony Jennings in the end zone to end the threat. Southern Miss scored first in the second half and went on to a 28-21 victory. Moore finished the game with four tackles.
6. Tony Lippett, CB, Dolphins — After their No. 1 cornerback, Byron Maxwell, left Sunday’s game in the first quarter with an ankle injury, Miami’s secondary was theoretically under more pressure to produce. Fortunately, they were playing the Jets.
Lippett stepped right into the role of standout DB, getting one interception off New York’s starting QB Bryce Petty and another INT off former-starter-turned-backup QB Ryan Fitzpatrick to help the Dolphins in a 34-13 victory.