Who was that?!? Check out the NFL’s Quarter 3 unheralded ballers – NFL Nation


We all know the NFL stars who fuel conversation on SportsCenter with weekly monster games, showing off their eye-popping highlight skills. But what about the performances that make us say, “Who was that?”

It could be the undrafted rookie who becomes his team’s leading receiver, the backup quarterback who leads his team to upset road victories or the journeyman defensive end who out of nowhere becomes the sack bogeyman.

This is for them.

Introducing the NFL’s Quarter 3 unheralded ballers, starting with a pair of rock-strong defensive tackles in the center of the NFL’s best scoring defense, a career day for a veteran safety and some major tight-end love.

Doers of dirty work on Patriots’ top-ranked scoring defense, No. 2 passing and total defense, No. 10 rushing defense

Why it matters: The Patriots’ primary defense might best be defined as a 2-4-5 nickel, and one of the keys to running it is being stout enough against the run despite being lighter up front. That’s where Guy (6-foot-4, 315 pounds) and Shelton (6-foot-2, 345 pounds) play pivotal roles in helping control the line of scrimmage.

Although they each have a sack this month, the stat sheet seldom reflects their value. They are often setting up players behind them to make plays by occupying multiple blockers. When the Patriots consistently stuff star running backs and create one-on-one pass-rush opportunities, Shelton and Guy often are a big part of it.

Two interceptions, including a pick-six, in 26-24 win over Chargers on Nov. 7

Why it matters: It’s a story of resilience for Harris, who went undrafted in 2012 out of Division II California University of Pennsylvania and spent three years in the CFL before getting his first true NFL chance in 2016. This season, he has emerged as a playmaking starting safety for the Raiders.

Harris, 29, has three interceptions this season, including two pick-sixes. He made his biggest splash in that Nov. 7 prime-time game when he picked off two Philip Rivers passes in the first half. He had a third interception that half negated by an offside penalty. It’s a continued ascension for a player few thought could have this kind of NFL future.

15 catches for 170 yards and two TDs in November, replacing the injured Chris Herndon

Why it matters: The Jets have risen from the dead, winning three consecutive games, and the reemergence of the tight end in Adam Gase’s offense has been a big part of that. That rebirth happened because Griffin stepped up.

Griffin, a veteran who spent the past six seasons with Houston, was signed by the Jets on the eve of training camp. He was supposed to be a hold-the-fort guy until Herndon returned from a four-game suspension, but Herndon’s injuries necessitated Griffin taking that role for the season. He has succeeded in it, and the Jets rewarded him with a three-year extension on Saturday.

Four sacks in Nov. 17 win over Bengals

Why it matters: The rookie fourth-round pick out of Eastern Michigan is on a November rampage, notching 5.5 of his 7.5 sacks this month, and he’s helping to provide pass rush the Raiders desperately need.

If it weren’t for the incredible play of Nick Bosa and Josh Allen, Crosby could have worked himself into the Defensive Rookie of the Year conversation. Either way, Crosby’s emergence is a big plus short-term and long-term for Oakland.

14 catches, 121 yards, three TDs in past three games

Why it matters: Losing Will Dissly for the season was a huge blow, but Hollister has helped Seattle’s offense continue to flow by picking up some of that production. Hollister, a third-year undrafted free agent from Wyoming, has thrived in some of the red zone situations that made Dissly a breakout player in the first six games of the season.

This Seahawks team is starting to look scary, and the variety of weapons it can unleash will make it a difficult out in the NFC playoffs.

2.5 sacks in the past four games

Why it matters: It’s a bit of a revival for Golden, who was off to a promising NFL career with the Arizona Cardinals, notching 12.5 sacks in 2016, before a torn ACL in 2017 slowed him down. He struggled to return from the injury in 2018 and signed a one-year, prove-it deal with the Giants the past offseason.

With 7.5 sacks this season, on pace to reach double digits again, Golden is proving it just in time for another payday.

ESPN NFL Nation reporters Mike Reiss, Rich Cimini and Jordan Ranaan contributed to this story.

Source : ESPN