Week 11 of the NFL is in the books and alumni of the University of Illinois continue to put in work. None came up with a play as decisive as the game-ending interception made by Detroit Lion Tavon Wilson on a desperation drive by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Up a touchdown with eight seconds to go, the Lions defense looked to stop Blake Bortles from moving into Hail Mary range on 3rd and 10. He threw behind Marqise Lee, bouncing the ball off his foot. Tavon Wilson swooped in to catch the deflected ball, locking up the game for the Lions, who now share first place in the NFC North with their Thanksgiving guests, the Minnesota Vikings. Arrelious Benn recorded no stats for the Jaguars, checking in late in the game only to be removed with an apparent cramp.
The Houston Texans maintain a narrow lead in the AFC South despite their 27-20 loss to Jihad Ward’s Oakland Raiders. Ward was part of a disruptive defensive line, and while he only recorded one tackle, his presence allowed the outside linebackers to get into the backfield. Former Illini Jeff Allen got the start at right guard for Houston, while fullback Jay Prosch actually managed a two yard carry. Whitney Mercilus had only three tackles at outside linebacker for the Texans. They hold a one-game lead on Vontae Davis and the Indianapolis Colts in the divisional race. Davis helped the Colts fend off a late rally by the Tennessee Titans as they won 24-17. He recorded four tackles and a pass breakup. Josh Ferguson, who’s seen his roles on offense and special teams diminish lately, recorded no stats in the game.
Defensive lineman Akeem Spence and safety Clayton Fejedelem each recorded a tackle for the Buccaneers and the Bengals respectively, with Spence’s squad prevailing over Kansas City and Fejedelem’s team losing to Buffalo.
Geronimo Allison had only one target in the Green Bay Packers’ 42-24 loss to the Washington Redskins. Aaron Rodgers sailed the ball way over the head of a wide-open Allison, who just managed to get a fingertip on it. He was visibly frustrated, kicking the ball a couple yards after the play. Former Fighting Illini and 2014 Heart of Dallas bowl villain Houston Bates made an appearance, blocking on a two-yard Robert Kelley touchdown run.
Corey Liuget’s last-place San Diego Chargers had a bye this week. Counting Teddy Karras, who remains on New England’s active roster despite losing his starting job, four of the eight current division leaders have former Fighting Illini playing for them. This translates to a strong chance for some Illini action in the playoffs.