Week 11 brought many superb and even jaw-dropping NFL player performances to enjoy.
Although, since we can’t cover ever single player that turned heads this past weekend, we will focus on the most remarkable ones that caught our attention. These men should be recognized for their tremendous contributions in Week 11.
Doug Martin, running back, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Martin was nothing short of fabulous in his Week 11 performance, unleashing 235 rushing yards on the unsuspecting Philadelphia Eagles defense on Sunday.
Martin’s rushing yardage was the second-most in franchise history, only to fall short of his own personal-best of 251 against the Oakland Raiders in his rookie season.
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) November 22, 2015
Martin’s big day has him needing only 59 more yards to hit the 1,000-yard mark. On course to finish 2015 with 1,505 rushing yards, it is exciting to see Martin’s return back to his exhilarating rookie form again this season after a couple of disappointing campaigns.
DeAndre Hopkins, wide receiver, Houston Texans
Hopkins has truly been amazing all season and did not disappoint in Week 11 when he teamed up with his second-string quarterback T.J. Yates for 118 yards and two touchdowns.
Making one-handed catches look second nature, Hopkins hauled in this beauty when he ransacked “Revis Island.”
— NFL (@NFL) November 22, 2015
His performance is even more remarkable considering Hopkins was catching passes from Yates, who hasn’t started in an NFL game since 2011. He is now only the third wide receiver of the season to cross the 1,000-yard threshold.
On pace to complete the 2015 season with 1,672 yards and 14 touchdowns, Hopkins’ ability to overcome adversity — working under three different (and mediocre) quarterbacks — this season has simply been remarkable.
One can only wonder how far Hopkins’ capabilities would stretch if he had the opportunity to work with an upgrade at quarterback, like Tom Brady.
Cam Newton, quarterback, Carolina Panthers
In his best performance of this season, “Superman” passed for a career-high five touchdowns against Washington in Week 11. Helping maintain the Panthers’ undefeated status at 10-0, Newton and Co. were unstoppable, scoring 44 points against a surprisingly ineffective defense.
And, Newton, who doesn’t like being termed as a “running” quarterback, set the record straight as to how others should refer to him, via ESPN.
“I have labelled myself as a pocket passer with the ability to run.”
In top form all day long, Newton completed 61.8 percent of his passes for 246 yards and five passing scores to five different receivers. At least this week he did look like a true pocket passer, limiting his rushing attempts to only four for 16 yards.
Newton’s 26 total touchdowns for the season have him only one shy of Carson Palmer, who leads the league with 27 heading into Monday night.
Kyle Rudolph, tight end, Minnesota Vikings
Rudolph, who hasn’t done much this season (only 182 total yards and three touchdowns) came out of hibernation in Week 11.
Targeted nine times by Teddy Bridgewater in a home game against the Green Bay Packers, Rudolph tallied six catches for 106 yards and one touchdown. Unfortunately, the Vikings lost to Green Bay, 30-13, but not due to any lack of effort by Rudolph.
Displaying his ability to make every catch count, Rudolph led the Vikings in receiving yards at an average of 17.67 per reception, with wide receiver Stefon Diggs turning his six catches into only 66 yards.
The fact that Rudolph was able to score against a Green Bay defense that had only allowed four tight end touchdowns all season was quite impressive.
Still positive after the Vikings let a tie for the NFC North lead slip to the Packers, Rudolph is ready to turn things around, via the Vikings official website.
“The bottom line is we have 6 games left, we’re both 7-3 and we still get to go there.”
Playing for a team not known for its passing game, Rudolph’s touchdown was one of the only eight Bridgewater has completed thus far. It will be interesting to see if this spike in Rudolph’s targets will be a continuing trend. He clearly has the talent to make an impact.
Jamies Winston, quarterback, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Winston kept the acrobatics out of his performance in Week 11 and stuck to the pocket for the most part, passing for a career-high five touchdowns — tied for the rookie record — against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.
Winston’s five passing touchdowns were a breath of fresh air considering the quarterback hadn’t passed for a score in his previous two games. Overall, Winston achieved a 131.6 quarterback rating, completing 19-of-29 passes for 246 yards, the five scores and zero interceptions.
Overall, the Eagles’ defense was atrocious, allowing Winston and Martin — mentioned earlier — basically get away with the farm when the Buccaneers ran up 45 total points compared to Philly’s 17 on Sunday.
And, one of the things that makes Winston’s awesome performance stand out even further is the fact that his counterpart Mark Sanchez posted one of the worst performances of his career, throwing three interceptions.
Thomas Rawls, running back, Seattle Seahawks
The undrafted rookie out of Central Michigan was called to duty once again in Week 11 with Marshawn Lynch out due to an abdomen injury.
Making his team forget all about Beastmode, Rawls took the San Francisco 49ers defense by storm when he totaled 255 all-purpose yards at CenturyLink Stadium on Sunday. Breaking down Rawls’ performance, he carried the ball 30 times for a total of 209 yards and a touchdown at a pace of 6.97 per carry. He also had three catches for 46 yards and a receiving score.
Rawls was responsible for 49.5 percent of the Seahawks’ total of 515 offensive yards. Truly exhibiting his skills as an all-purpose back, Rawls was effective in short-yardage situations and long plays, including four, 20-plus yard runs.
Rawls also excelled at breaking tackles and staying within bounds during sideline dashes.
“I have never run out of bounds,” Rawls said per ESPN’s Sheil Kapadia. “It’s just my make-up. It’s my whole mentality. I think I would feel less of a person just running out of bounds instead of being physical, showing toughness and [having] a different mentality at the running back position.”
With Lynch’s immediate future clouded by what could be a sports hernia that may require surgery, Rawls should be a consistent force on Seattle’s offense, at least for the short term.
And, for those who play fantasy football, Rawls will indeed be the hottest waiver wire target for Week 12.
J.J. Nelson, wide receiver, Arizona Cardinals
While we’re spreading around some rookie love in Week 11, Nelson (a fifth-round draft pick) must be recognized for his eye-catching performance against the Cincinnati Bengals in his first career start.
Nelson received a season-high six targets by Carson Palmer resulting in four receptions for 142 yards and his first NFL touchdown. With fellow wide receiver Michael Floyd sidelined due to an injury, it was Nelson’s opportunity to showcase his amazing 4.28 40-yard dash speed in Sunday’s prime time game.
Impressed by Nelson’s performance that included an amazing 64-yard touchdown, Palmer commented on the rookie, via Kevin Patra of NFL.com.
“I think everybody expected him to make the plays that he did, and I’m just glad to see him do it. I think he started to realize he’s not just a player, he’s a big-time player.”
— Down In Front Prod. (@DIFPBham) November 23, 2015
After Nelson’s breakout performance, we can be sure the Cardinals will want to involve the 5-foot-10, 160-pound speedster in more offensive plays moving forward.