Sunday had it all in the NFL, including an incredible game between the Seattle Seahawks and Houston Texans, where even with the high-scoring offenses putting up ridiculous numbers, still saw some outstanding individual defensive performances. Despite some terrible conditions around the league, we still saw plenty of impressive days on the defensive side of the ball, so with that in mind, here are the Sunday Standouts on defense in Week 8.
DI Geno Atkins, Cincinnati Bengals, 94.4 overall grade
Geno Atkins was a man on a mission for the Cincinnati Bengals yesterday, and made some big plays against the run. Playing just 17 snaps in run defense, Atkins registered four tackles, all resulting in defensive stops, giving him a 23.5 run stop percentage.
Edge Frank Clark, Seattle Seahawks, 87.0 overall grade
The only time the Seattle Seahawks were able to have any success against Deshaun Watson was when they put him under pressure, and edge defender Frank Clark was key to that. With two sacks and seven hurries from 27 snaps as a pass-rusher, his 26.9 pass-rushing productivity rating was the highest among edge defenders.
Edge Jadeveon Clowney, Houston Texans, 96.6 overall grade
With all the points scored in Seattle yesterday, it might be surprising to see edge defender Jadeveon Clowney as the Houston Texans highest graded player, but such was his dominance against the Seattle Seahawks offensive line. Clowney rushed the passer 44 times, registering a sack, a hit and seven hurries, good for a pass-rushing productivity rating of 16.3.
CB Vernon Hargreaves, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 88.0 overall grade
While they didn’t get the win, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have been encouraged by another impressive performance from former first-round draft Vernon Hargreaves. From 34 snaps in coverage, Hargreaves allowed just two receptions for 13 yards, surrendering an NFL passer rating of just 39.6 on throws into his coverage.
S Micah Hyde, Buffalo Bills, 88.9 overall grade
The Buffalo Bills made one of the best under-the-radar signings this offseason when they added safety Micah Hyde, as the former Green Bay Packers player leads the NFL in interceptions so far this year. Yesterday, Hyde saw five passes where he was the primary coverage defender, giving up just seven yards and coming away with another interception.
LB Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers, 86.8 overall grade
Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly impressed in their win on Sunday, shining against the run and in coverage. Against the run, he registered four tackles, with two of those tackles resulting in a defensive stop. Coming on 19 snaps against the run, that gave him a run stop percentage of 10.5.
DI T.Y. McGill, Cleveland Browns, 87.2 overall grade
T.Y. McGill played just 26 snaps for the Cleveland Browns in the loss to the Minnesota Vikings, but stood out both against the run and as a pass rusher. Seeing just nine pass-rushing snaps, he registered a hit and two hurries, good for a 32.1 pass-rushing productivity rating.
Edge Melvin Ingram, Los Angeles Chargers, 87.8 overall grade
The Los Angeles Chargers edge rushing duo both had big games yesterday, but it was Melvin Ingram who impressed the most in the loss to the New England Patriots. Rushing the passer 42 times, Ingram may not have registered a sack, but with two hits and eight hurries his 17.9 pass-rushing productivity rating was the third-highest from an edge defender this week.
CB Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks, 88.8 overall grade
Another Seahawks defender who stood out, Richard Sherman had two huge interceptions, including one on the Texans final offensive play to seal the victory. On the day, Sherman allowed a reception just once every 9.8 snaps in coverage.
CB Ahkello Witherspoon, San Francisco 49ers, 88.1 overall grade
The San Francisco 49ers are still looking for their first win of the season, but if they are looking for signs that they have some pieces to build around, they need look no further than Ahkello Witherspoon’s performance on Sunday. Targeted eight times in coverage, he allowed three catches for 66 yards, including a touchdown, but also had an interception.