Two past Hoss Of The Week winners, J.J. Watt and Everson Griffen, both had big days on Sunday. Both guys had two sacks in a win. Both guys also scored touchdowns, with Watt catching a 1-yard out and Griffen returning a blocked punt. But neither guy would be this season's first repeat winner. That's because I felt like Jaguars defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks, while not scoring a touchdown, came up the biggest for the team that needed a win the most this past weekend.
Unless you are really into the NFL, you may have never heard of Sen'Derrick Marks. That's what happens when the first six seasons of your career are split between the Titans and the Jaguars at a time when neither team is winning all that much. If you are aware of Marks, then you know he is a pretty good young player who looks to be really coming into his own this season. Jacksonville is mired in yet another disappointing season, but if and when they get things turned around, it's likely that Marks will be a huge part of that resurgence.
With two more sacks last Sunday, Marks now has seven on the season, easily his career best, bettering the four sacks he notched last year, his first with the Jags. If he can continue at this pace for the final four weeks of the season, double digit sacks are definitely within reach for him. That would be quite an accomplishment for a guy playing on a team that only has two wins, because the Jaguars rarely play with a lead. That means by the end of the game most teams don't even have to continue throwing the ball, which means fewer opportunities for Marks to rush the passer.
Last Sunday against the Giants, Marks showed up in crunch time when his team really needed him, and his efforts helped them finish New York off to earn their second victory of the season. One thing you may not know about the game if you didn't watch it, and let's face it, most of you didn't (at least not willingly), is that the score was 21-3 Giants at halftime. For all intents and purposes this looked to be another skull dragging that the Jags have come to experience all too often of late. Then a curious thing happened after halftime -- the Jaguars defense started to get stops on third down.
Marks did his part with a sack of Giants quarterback Eli Manning at the 10:05 mark of the third quarter with New York facing a 3rd-and-2. This wasn't an easy win either as the Jaguars lined up with a funky alignment on the play. They had three people to the center's left, including Marks lined up between the center and left guard. He started with a speed rush then countered to a bull rush once the center bailed. Just as Marks got to the level of the quarterback, he ripped inside and took Manning down which forced the Giants to punt on the next play. (GIF via Big Cat Country)
Mind you, this was the very next drive after Manning was sacked and fumbled into the endzone and then Giants running back Rashad Jennings made a stupid mistake and tried to pick up the ball leading to Jaguars linebacker J.T. Thomas pouncing on it for a touchdown. That fumble recovery put the score at 21-10 and swung all the momentum to Jacksonville. I also would point out that Marks jumped on Giants tight end Daniel Fells and knocked the ball out of his grasp so he couldn't recover it before Thomas jumped on it. That's something that was huge factor in the outcome of the play, but will never show up in any stat sheet.
Later in the game after Jaguars rookie receiver Marqise Lee caught a 30-yard touchdown to make the score 21-16 (a two-point try failed), Marks again made a big play to help derail a Giants drive. Near the beginning of the fourth quarter with 14:32 left in the game and the Giants nearing mid field, New York decided to run a counter play on 1st-and-10. Right guard John Jerry pulled to his left, but the problem was Marks was lined up on Jerry at the time. Giants center J.D. Walton was supposed to block back on Marks and wall him off, but he was no match for Marks' quickness off the ball. Walton was barely out of his stance before Marks was making contact with Giants rookie running back Andre Williams. And let me tell you, he came out of his hips on that tackle. That means he hit him with full force and took him right off his feet. (GIF via Big Cat Country)
Williams went down hard for a loss of four yards and it turned into a Jaguars feeding frenzy from there.
Jags defensive tackle Tyson Alualu got a sack on the next play and on 3rd-and-15, Giants tight end Larry Donnell fumbled as he was flipped on a tackle by Jaguars cornerback Aaron Colvin, who returned it for a touchdown. What had started off looking like a very promising drive eventually went up in flames and it all got started with that tackle for loss by Marks on first down.
Now I don't know about you, but I love to see a player make a play to end the game for the opposing team. Marks made just one of those plays with 28 seconds left in the game. The Jaguars had just driven down to kick a field goal and take their first lead of the game at 25-24 on the previous drive. The Jags could not allow Manning to hit a couple of passes and get his team in field goal range. Marks said to hell with it and got a sack/forced fumble, recovered by Jags defensive end Chris Clemons to effectively seal the win.
Marks ran a Tex game with Clemons against right tackle John Jerry and right guard Dallas Reynolds, and he absolutely ran over Jerry on his way to sacking Manning. He made contact just as Manning went to pump fake and the force of the hit shook the ball loose. Once Clemons recovered it, the Giants were dunzo.
In honor of Sen'Derrick Marks continuing to ball out in spite of his team's fortunes and helping his Jaguars to seal the deal over the Giants this past weekend, I hereby bestow on him the Hoss Of The Week award for Week 13 of the NFL season. Hopefully more people will pay attention to his game now.