Cal Football Player of the Week for the Regular Season Finale

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 31: Tyson Alualu /

The NFL’s regular season has come to an end, and some Cal football alum made some big impacts in the season’s final weeks.

With Pittsburgh Steelers’ Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Heyward sitting out on Sunday, former Cal football star Tyson Alualu was pressed into service. His performance in Sunday’s win over the Cleveland Browns (which completed the second 0-16 NFL season in history) wasn’t only his best game of the season, but statistically the best of his career.

Alulalu recorded two sacks for the first time in his NFL career, and set a new career-high with eight total tackles, including six solo tackles. He also recorded four tackles for a loss, setting a new career-best in that category as well.

The former 10th overall pick wasted no time getting on the stat sheet, dropping Browns’ quarterback DeShone Kizer on Cleveland’s first offensive play of the game. Alualu wasn’t picked up by a lineman on an inside stunt, and bowled through a running back to get to the quarterback. He added two tackles for loss before the first quarter ended. His second sack came early in the fourth quarter, bringing Kizer down again for a seven-yard loss.

Despite having a decreased workload in Pittsburgh – his five games started and 42 percent defensive snap count were both the second-lowest of his eight-year career – Alualu was a solid contributor in his first season in the Steel City. He set a career-high with four sacks, and his 39 total tackles were his most since 2013.

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Around the league, it was a day of milestones for former Golden Bears. The biggest milestone belonged to Oakland Raiders’ running back Marshawn Lynch, who joined an exclusive club. With an 11-yard run in the fourth quarter, Lynch reached 98 yards on the day, the exact total he needed to reach 10,000 yards in his NFL career. He’s the 31st player, and first Cal Bear, to reach that mark. He finished the day with 101 yards, matching his best game of the season and reaching the century mark for the 33rd time in his career.

C.J. Anderson had a tough day running the ball for the Denver Broncos, averaging only 3.4 yards per carry against the Chiefs. He did gain 61 yards on the ground, bringing his season total to 1,007 rushing yards, his first NFL season with at least 1,000 yards. He is one of just nine players to reach that total this season.

The Los Angeles Chargers needed a win to keep their playoff hopes alive, and wide receiver Keenan Allen did his best to help. He made nine catches for 133 yards, his seventh game with at least 100 yards this season, and made a touchdown catch. He surpassed 100 catches for the first time in his career, finishing fourth in the NFL with 102 catches. His 1,393 yards is also a career-high, and good for third in the league.

A week after securing his first career interception, Allen came up with another improbable play. Chargers’ running back Melvin Gordon fumbled after a big gainer, but the ball flew right into Allen’s hands and he went untouched to the endzone. The Chargers did their part and won, but didn’t get enough help to sneak into the playoffs.

Cameron Jordan finished his excellent season for the New Orleans Saints with another sack, his 13th of the season to surpass his previous best of 12.5 set in 2013. He ends the 2017 season tied for fourth in football in sacks, as well as tied for third with 17 tackles for loss, and tied for second among linebackers and defensive lineman with 12 pass defenses. He’s a Pro Bowler this season, but he’s hoping that, with his Saints in the playoffs, that he won’t be eligible to play the week before the Super Bowl.

Wide receiver Trevor Davis had his best day yet in the passing game for the Green Bay Packers. He entered 2017’s season finale with only five catches for 38 yards, but against the Lions, he made three grabs for 56 yards. He made catches of 29 yards and 21 yards, the two longest receptions of his young career. Davis also returned two punts for 46 yards, including a 36-yard scamper. He averaged 12 yards per punt return this season, good for third-best in the NFL.

Linebacker Hardy Nickerson had a nice day as the Cincinnati Bengals upset the Baltimore Ravens and knocked them from playoff contention. The undrafted rookie came through with seven tackles, all solo, and also recorded his first career pass defense.

Next: Player of the Week for Week 16

Finally, a congratulations to every former Golden Bear moving on to the playoffs: Alex Mack (Atlanta Falcons), Lorenzo Alexander (Buffalo Bills), head coach Ron Rivera (Carolina Panthers), Mitchell Schwartz (Kansas City Chiefs), Jared Goff (Los Angeles Rams), Jordan, Daniel Lasco (Saints – IR), Mychal Kendricks (Philadelphia Eagles), Bryce Treggs (Eagles – Practice Squad), Alualu, Brian Schwenke and Khalfani Muhammad (Tennessee Titans).