A dozen weeks are in the books. It’s time to acknowledge those who made the biggest impact on the game during Week 12.
It’s the weekly PFT awards. One winner for each of five categories, with plenty of finalists who at least merit having their names named.
All winners and finalists appear below. Feel free to provide feedback in the comments.
Offensive player of the week: Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts.
On Sunday night against the Packers, Hurts became only the fourth player to accomplish one very specific feat.
In the same game, 150 yards passing and 150 yards rushing.
Hurts has become a short-list MVP candidate for his abilities and his leadership, helping propel his team toward 10-1. He has become a much better passer, but his running combines the raw athletic skill of Lamar Jackson and Justin Fields with the uncanny ability of Patrick Mahomes to understand how his body moves in space relative to the players trying to tackle him.
Hurts helped lift the Eagles to 336 rushing yards against Green Bay, and to keep them ahead of the Cowboys for the division title, and the Vikings for the No. 1 seed.
Other finalists: Raiders running back Josh Jacobs (303 yards from scrimmage), Jets quarterback Mike White (315 passing yards, three touchdowns), Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson (nine catches, 139 yards, touchdown), Jaguars receiver Zay Jones (11 catches, 145 yards, two-point conversion), Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (321 passing yards, three touchdowns), Bengals receiver Tee Higgins (seven catches, 114 yards, one touchdown), Panthers receiver DJ Moore (four catches, 103 yards, touchdown), Browns running back Nick Chubb (116 rushing yards, touchdown).
Defensive player of the week: 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa.
His stat line doesn’t scream out dominance -- one sack, one tackle for loss, two quarterback hits. But the 49ers pitched a shutout on Sunday against the Saints, and Bosa was the most important part of the defensive effort that delivered it.
Ultimately, Bosa’s sack came with the 49ers leading 13-0 and the Saints facing fourth and goal from the four.
Enter Bosa. Exit the Saints. And for a fourth straight game, the 49ers haven’t given up a point in the second half. In this one, they didn’t give up a point in the first half, either.
Other finalists: Browns defensive end Myles Garrett (1.5 sacks, one tackle for loss, three quarterback hits), Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons (two sacks, two tackles for loss, two quarterback hits), Bengals defensive lineman Sam Hubbard (one sack, two tackles for loss, two quarterback hits), Bills defensive tackle Ed Oliver (one sack, two tackles for loss, two quarterback hits), Panthers linebacker Brian Burns (two sacks, one tackle for loss, three quarterback hits), Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby (1.5 sacks, one tackle for loss, six quarterback hits).
Rookies of the week: Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett.
Kenny Pickett is ready for prime time. And to continue to be a starting quarterback in the NFL.
The numbers weren’t eye popping. He completed 20 of 28 passes for 174 yards against the Colts. But he looks the part, making throws when they need to be made -- and running when running is the only option. He gained 30 yards on the ground against Indy.
His best throw of the night, combining lateral mobility and needle-threading accuracy, secured a two-point conversion and a seven-point lead.
Every rep he gets this year will prepare him for next year. And while it may be too late to climb back into the 2022 playoff race, it’s never too early to get a head start on 2023. The Steelers and Pickett are doing just that.
Other finalists: Jets receiver Garrett Wilson (five catches, 95 yards, two touchdowns), Jets running back Zonovan Knight (103 yards from scrimmage), Titans receiver Treylon Burks, Commanders running back Brian Robinson (125 yards from scrimmage, touchdown).
Coach of the week: Bengals coach Zac Taylor.
The Bengals had managed to stay under radar for most of the season. After beating the Titans in Tennessee, they’re blipping conspicuously in the heart of the screen.
Taylor’s team beat the Titans in large part by shutting down running back Derrick Henry. Defensive lineman Sam Hubbard (one of the finalists for defensive player of the week) told PFT by phone after the game that the goal was to get to Henry quickly, given that he leads the league in yards after contact.
“We really put an emphasis on tackling well and swarming them,” Hubbard said. “It’s gonna take more than one to get him down.”
Henry busted a long gain on a screen pass. “We said, ‘That’s it, no more big plays,’” Hubbard said. “We did a good job rallying after that.”
Hubbard also echoed a message that Taylor had for the locker room after the game. Even though other AFC teams may get the hype, the Bengals can’t be ignored.
“Everyone’s got to play us,” Hubbard said. “Whatever anyone else says about other people, at the end of the day they got to play us. That’s our mentality.”
It’s a lot like their mentality from 2021. And that mentality took them to the Super Bowl.
Other finalists: Jets coach Robert Saleh, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell, Jaguars coach Doug Pederson.
Play of the week: Raiders running back Josh Jacobs’ 86-yard touchdown run in overtime.
Nearly 35 years to the day after Raiders running back Bo Jackson ran 91 yards for a touchdown at Seattle and disappeared up the tunnel of the long-gone Kingdome, Jacobs had a walk-off 86-yard run in overtime to cap a franchise-record 303 yards from scrimmage.
As Jacobs told Peter King of Football Morning in America, Jacobs (who has found plenty of general motivation from being in a contract year, thanks to the new regime not picking up his fifth-year option) drew specific motivation from a Seahawks fan who had a sign that said, “3-7. NOT BAD FOR A TEAM WITH NO TALENT.”
“He was screaming at us, all this bad stuff,” Jacobs said. “I just looked up at him and said, ‘Thank you for that. I needed that today. You turnt me up.’”
And, in one play, Jacobs turned out the Seahawks.
Other finalists: Titans receiver Treylon Burks’ 51-yard catch, and his fumble recovery in the end zone for a touchdown, Jets receiver Garrett Wilson’s 54-yard touchdown catch, Commanders cornerback Kendall Fuller’s game-saving interception, two-point conversion by Jaguars for the win, two point conversion by the Chargers for the win, Vikings running back Kene Nwangwu’s 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, Browns quarterback Jacoby Brissett’s game-tying touchdown throw to tight end David Njoku on fourth and 10.