Cal Football’s NFL Player of the Week: 2017 Week 15


The NFL regular season is nearing its end, and some teams are making their playoff pushes while others are acting as spoilers and playing for pride. Cal football alums made some big contributions  in the NFL this week, but one stood out among the rest.

Denver Broncos’ running back C.J. Anderson put together his best game of the season by far, and one of the best of his career in Thursday night’s defeat of the Indianapolis Colts. Despite not finding the endzone, he led the way for the offense, piling up 158 yards on 30 carries.

Anderson didn’t have one huge carry on the night, as his longest run was 16 yards. Instead, he picked up solid chunks time after time as Denver continued to pound the ball. The fifth-year running back gained at least eight yards on eight separate carries, four of which were for more than 10 yards. He also picked up nine first downs.

He set season-highs in both carries and yards. His 30 carries were the second-most of his career, behind the 32 times he toted the ball on November 30th, 2014. The 158 yards represent his third-highest single-game total, after 168 yards in the 32-carry game, and 167 the week before, on November 23rd, 2014.

Anderson had already surpassed his previous career-high for carries in a season, and extended that to 211 after week 15. He also set a new career-best in yards, gaining 858 on the year to surpass the 849 yards he ran for in 2014. He needs to average 71 yards per game over the last two weeks to reach 1,000 yards for the first time in his career.

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After suffering through an eight-game losing streak, the Broncos have won two in a row to move to 5-9 on the season.

Honorable Mentions:

On Saturday, Detroit Lions’ wide receiver Marvin Jones, Jr. made three catches for 85 yards, including a beautiful, leaping high-point catch on an airball for 58 yards. He’s up to 970 yards on the season, a career-high. His 18 yards per catch ranks as third-best in the NFL among players with at least 20 receptions.

Also on Saturday,  Keenan Allen continued his fine season for the Los Angeles Chargers. He wasn’t able to continue his streak of four consecutive 100-yard games, bu the Golden Bears’ all-time leader in catches still made five grabs for 54 yards, bringing him up to 88 catches and 1,197 yards on the year, both career-bests. Unfortunately, he left the game in the fourth quarter with a back injury, and the severity of the injury is yet to be determined.

New Orleans Saints’ defensive end Cameron Jordan only recorded one tackle, but contributed big time with four passes deflected at the line of scrimmage (he also recorded a fifth on a two-point conversion, but that isn’t reflected in official statistics). That brought him to a “triple-double” on the season, with 10 sacks, 10 tackles for loss, and 10 passes deflected.

Aaron Rodgers returned to action with the Green Bay Packers, and put together a nice performance (26-45, 290 yards, three touchdowns) despite three interceptions. He had his team in position to make a late drive to potentially tie the game, but a (questionable) catch and fumble ended their chances. His tight end and fellow Cal alum Richard Rodgers set season-highs with four catches and 77 yards, and scored his first touchdown of the year.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers put forth a valiant effort in a bid to upset the Atlanta Falcons, and safety Chris Conte contributed six tackles and forced a fumble early in the fourth quarter. He knocked the ball free from Atlanta running back Devonta Freeman, but his team couldn’t jump on the ball. Tampa Bay’s upset effort fell short, 24-21.

Next: Player(s) of the Week: Week 14

Finally, linebacker Hardy Nickerson made his first career NFL start with the Cincinnati Bengals heavily depleted at the linebacker position. He made four tackles.