Fighting Illini alumni had some serious impact on several games in the NFL last weekend, with one scoring the decisive touchdown.
My favorite Illini moment of the week in the NFL would have thrilled more Illini fans if it hadn’t been to the detriment of the Chicago Bears. Arrelious Benn scored his first touchdown since 2011, capping off a long comeback from three consecutive seasons missed entirely due to various injuries. The 2007 Big Ten Freshman of the Year never lost hope, and his persistence paid off as took a pass 51 yards to the house to give the Jacksonville Jaguars a 17-16 lead that they never relinquished with under 3 minutes to go. Here’s a link to the video of the decisive play. It was Benn’s third reception of the season.
The Sunday Night game between the Colts and the Texans had five Fighting Illini, though two had little to no action. Texans guard Jeff Allen was inactive following a concussion the prior week, while fullback Jay Prosch recorded no stats for Houston. Rookie Josh Ferguson was in at running back on a few snaps for the Colts but got no offensive stats; he did return a kick 23 yards though.
Linebacker Whitney Mercilus for Houston and corner Vontae Davis for Indianapolis were big players in this game. On one sequence near the end of the third quarter, the Colts faced 3rd and 1 at Houston’s 8 yard line up four points. Mercilus stopped Andrew Luck for no gain, then sacked him on the fourth down attempt. On the second play of the ensuing drive, Vontae Davis reached back for a tremendous interception of Brock Osweiler. Davis would finish with five tackles and two pass breakups, while Mercilus would finish with 6 tackles, including two for loss and one sack as Houston won 26-23 in overtime.
Jihad Ward recorded only one tackle for the Oakland Raiders as their offense did them no favors in a 26-10 loss to Kansas City. Clayton Fejedelem got in some snaps at safety in Cincinnati’s 35-17 loss to the New England Patriots, recording two tackles. Rookie guard Teddy Karras has apparently lost his starting job with the Patriots, but played snaps on special teams. Safety Tavon WIlson split time at the position for the Detroit Lions, recording three tackles as the Detroit secondary struggled mightily with Case Keenum and the Los Angeles Rams, but pulled out a 31-28 win. Defensive tackle Corey Liuget helped the San Diego Chargers shut down the Denver Broncos in a 21-13 victory with a tackle and a pass breakup.