PoF: Best Single Games - Safeties
Welcome to the Pro Football Focus Page of Fame for cornerbacks, where only the best one-off performances during our time grading (2007 – Present) are mentioned.
If this is your first visit to a “PFF PoF” then the rules are pretty simple. Each game is it’s own island, and only the highest grades make it onto the list.
Anything at or over a +5.5 grade for this position will get the recognition it deserves!
1. Troy Polamalu, 2008 – CC, BAL @ PIT: +7.5
Pass Rush: 0.0, Coverage: +5.6, Run Defense: +1.8, Penalties: +0.1
It never hurts to save your best performance of the year for one of the most important games of the season. Polamalu did just that with the top graded performance for 2008 in the Conference Championship game. He was a nuisance in this game as he picked up a pick and pass deflection and allowed just one completion into his coverage for 2 yards. Fine work.
2. Kerry Rhodes, 2012 – WK13, ARZ @ NYJ: +7.0
Pass Rush: -0.1, Coverage: +6.5, Run Defense: +0.5, Penalties: +0.1
Things didn’t end on a particularly amicable note between Rhodes and Rex Ryan’s New York Jets. So it wasn’t that much of a surprise that when this opportunity presented itself, Rhodes earned his best grade since PFF started doing our thing. He walked away with two interceptions, another pass deflection and allowed just two balls into his coverage (on five targets) for an insignificant 5 yards. That was good enough for the highest grade of any performance in 2012 by a safety.
3. Ed Reed, 2011 – DP, HST @ BAL: +6.8
Pass Rush: +0.9, Coverage: +5.0, Run Defense: +0.8, Penalties: +0.1
If T.J. Yates didn’t know about the range of Ed Reed before this one, he sure did afterwards. Reed, determined to see the Ravens through to the Conference Championship game, was all over the field in allowing zero of the four balls into his coverage to be complete. What’s more, he intercepted one of those balls and deflected another three of them. At his best.
4. Sean Taylor, 2007 – WK6, WAS @ GB: +6.5
Pass Rush: 0.0, Coverage: +6.2, Run Defense: +0.2, Penalties: +0.1
Taken too soon, Taylor was a truly special player for the Redskins. Way back in 2007 this performance against the Brett Favre-led Packers highlighted that. His coverage was tested five times and he responded with a stunning two interceptions and three pass defenses.
5. Troy Polamalu, 2011 – WK3, PIT @ IND: +6.2
Pass Rush: +2.9, Coverage: +2.5, Run Defense: +0.7, Penalties: +0.1
An all-action display from an all-action safety. Polamalu smelt blood in the water as soon as he saw Kerry Collins opposite him, and proceeded to get two hits and two hurries on the Colts’ quarterbacks (Curtis Painter would sub-in late). If that wasn’t enough, he allowed zero of the three passes into his coverage to be complete, defensing two of them.
6. Troy Polamalu, 2011 – WK17, PIT @ CLE: +6.0
Pass Rush: 0.0, Coverage: +4.2, Run Defense: +1.7, Penalties: +0.1
Showing he was 100% healthy, Polamalu finished the 2011 regular season in fine form. The Browns really should have stayed away from throwing anywhere near him, as he picked off one and pass defensed the other two passes thrown into his coverage as he took away the short stuff in aggressive fashion.
7. Ed Reed, 2010 – WK12, TB @ BAL: +5.9
Pass Rush: 0.0, Coverage: +5.6, Run Defense: +0.2, Penalties: +0.1
A safety is inevitably the last line of defense. A guy there to provide help over the top. Take the play of Reed against the Bucs here. He was targeted only twice, yet he wound up with a staggering five pass defenses as he read Josh Freeman time and time again to break up a play.
8. Troy Polamalu, 2011 – WK16, SL @ PIT: +5.8
Pass Rush: +0.9, Coverage: +2.5, Run Defense: +2.3, Penalties: +0.1
It was Christmas Eve and Polamalu was in a mood for giving. Giving the Rams’ offense headaches that is. In a fine all-around display he allowed no completions into his coverage, with two pass defenses ensuring that case. In addition, he added three defensives stops for good measure.
=9. Kam Chancellor, 2013 – DP, NO @ SEA: +5.7
Pass Rush: 0.0, Coverage: +2.3 Run Defense: +3.3, Penalties: +0.1
No Seahawk dominated in the postseason like Chancellor. The Saints felt this first hand as Chancellor picked up seven tackles and allowed only 15 yards on the seven balls thrown into his coverage. It didn’t hurt that he broke up two passes as Jimmy Graham was kept very quiet.
=9. Troy Polamalu, 2013, WK12, PIT @ CLE: +5.7
Pass Rush: +1.1, Coverage: +1.8, Run Defense: +2.7, Penalties: +0.1
Proving he still had it when many had written him off, Polamalu took it to the Browns with a game built for him. In tricky conditions he picked up a sack, two defensive stops, a pass break up and a fantastic strip of running back Chris Ogbonnaya that had to be seen to be believed.
11. Eric Berry, 2012 – WK15, KC @ OAK: +5.6
Pass Rush: 0.0, Coverage: +1.5, Run Defense: +4.0, Penalties: +0.1
It took Berry some time to get back to his best after a debilitating injury cost him all bar five snaps of his 2011 year. By the season’s end though he was starting to show why the Chiefs spent the fifth overall pick in the 2010 draft on him. Against Oakland he was a tackling machine with a stunning seven defensive stops in the run game. That meant on 15.6% of his run defense snaps he was making a stop. Wow.
11. Husain Abdullah, 2014 – WK15, NE @ KC: +5.6
Pass Rush: +0.3, Coverage: +3.5, Run Defense: +1.7, Penalties: +0.1
The Patriots went after Abdullah, but he was no weak link. Instead the 11 balls thrown into his coverage went for just 39 yards with one pick going the other way. Consider this examination passed.
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