Facing stiff competition from New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, it was Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder who emerged as the Eastbay NBA Player of the Week. The reason? Sheer quality of wins. Both the Knicks and Thunder went 4-0 on the week, but the Thunder rolled off three very impressive wins against Western Conference contenders and potential playoff foes. Durant played a key role in OKC’s big week, averaging 30 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.
Durant scored at a high level in each of the team’s four games, but nothing gets as big as sniping the defending champion Los Angles Lakers in their gym. Poised to get the Lakers back on the winning track, Kobe Bryant poured in 31 points, but Durant matched with 31 of his own. The efficiency of Durant’s night is what really bothered the Lakers. He connected on 11 of his 15 shots from the field and knocked down all eight of his free throws to rack up the 31 en route to a 120-106 win. With the victory, Oklahoma City is still within striking distance of landing the third seed out west.
Surprisingly, this is the first time Durant has walked away with Eastbay Player of the Week honors this season, while teammate Russell Westbrook has gotten the nod on three occasions.
Over the last two NFL seasons, the Minnesota Vikings vs. Green Bay Packers games have been highly publicized due to the battle at quarterback between Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. Sunday’s affair was more of a sparring session for the Packers, and while Rodgers was stellar, one of his favorite targets made his job fairly easy. The recipient of Eastbay’s Week 11 NFL Player of the Week honors is Green Bay wide receiver Greg Jennings.
Jennings was a human highlight reel on Sunday, making acrobatic catches and athletic runs on a demoralized Vikings defense. With the Packers down 3-0 in the second quarter, Jennings caught a deep 47-yard fade pass that set up a Mason Crosby field goal to put Green Bay on the board. On the team’s next possession, Jennings reeled in an 11-yard catch to put the Packers on top. They wouldn’t relinquish that lead for the rest of the game.
Just as he did in the first half, Jennings set the tone for the second. On Green Bay’s first drive, Jennings caught a short pass on a simple comeback route, but managed to make cornerback Asher Allen miss the tackle on his way to a 46-yard touchdown. “When you throw just a comeback to him and he turns it into a big-time touchdown, that makes you look like a lot better quarterback,” Aaron Rodgers said. Jennings also scored on a 22-yard fade pass in the 4th quarter to ice the Vikings for the game and most likely the rest of the season.
On the day, Jennings caught 7 balls for 152 yards, averaging nearly 22 yards per catch. The three touchdown receptions mark a new career high for the wide receiver. These numbers almost surely move his previously ranked Top 10 Pro Performances down a notch. What do you think?
For more on Greg Jennings, check out Part 1 and Part 2 of our ‘Off the Field with Greg Jennings’ feature.
Last week, South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore ran away with Eastbay College Football Player of the Week honors. This week, the title will stay with the running backs. In a highly publicized game that took place at the Chicago Cubs’ Wrigley Field between Illinois and Northwestern, it was Illinois running back Mikel Leshoure who stole the show. Leshoure carried the ball 33 times for 330 yards, reaching the endzone twice on the day.
Leshoure set the tone early, scoring touchdowns on Illinois’ first two possessions. The team’s third touchdown in the first quarter was not scored by Leshoure, but it was his 70-yard scamper that set the Illini up inside the 5-yard line. That trend continued for the duration of the game, as Leshoure produced big time runs and set up scoring drives for Illinois. His day on the ground also helped Illinois dominate the time of possession by a lopsided tally of 41 minutes to 19. Leshoure’s 100-yard 4th quarter performance set up two more scores for the team, which proved to be the difference. Illinois went on to win the Wrigley Bowl by a score of 48-27.
The 330-yard performance is an Illinois school record, breaking Robert Holcombe’s 1996 mark of 315 yards. Additionally, Leshoure’s day is the biggest in college football since Navy’s Shun White cranked out a 348-yard day in 2008. “The No. 1 thing was to get the win, help my team out and get to that bowl game,” said Leshoure. “I’m happy the stats were the way they were, but that definitely wasn’t on my mind going into the game.”
Illinois will travel to play the Fresno State Bulldogs in the regular season finale on December 3rd.
Early on Monday, it was announced that Washington Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb had been signed to a 5-year, $78 million dollar contract extension. By Monday night, people were left asking, “If McNabb is worth $78 million, what is Michael Vick worth?” In a Monday Night Football match-up between former teammates, Vick absolutely dazzled, connecting on 20 of his 28 passes for 333 yards and four touchdown. Additionally, Vick ran for 80 yards and two touchdowns to help the Eagles rout the Washington Redskins by a score of 59-28.
The Eagles dominated because of the tone Vick set early. On the first play of the game, he found speedy wide receiver DeSean Jackson with an 88-yard touchdown pass. Philadelphia was able to find the endzone on each of their four 1st quarter possessions, with Vick personally having a hand in three of them.
Much like the game started, the Eagles were able to find paydirt on the first play of the second quarter. After taking a snap in the shotgun, Vick found wide receiver Jeremy Maclin deep for a 48-yard touchdown pass. Later in the quarter, Vick added a 6-yard TD run to bring his total to 5 at the half, where the Eagles led 45-15. He added another TD pass to receiver Jason Avant in the 3rd quarter before the Eagles took their foot off the gas in the 4th.
In addition to the big win, Vick made a little history of Monday night. Vick became the first player in NFL history with at least 300 yards passing, 50 yards rushing, four passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns in a game. Additionally, his 80 yards on the ground helped him move past Steve Young for second place in NFL history for rushing yards by a quarterback. He now trails former Eagles quarterback Randall Cunningham by 633 yards.
The Eagles will host the New York Giants on Sunday night for 1st place in the NFC East.
Last week, Texas A&M linebacker Michael Hodges tackled anybody that stood in his way of earning Eastbay’s College Football Player of the Week honors. This week, we salute South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore, who steamrolled through the Florida Gators’ defense in the SEC East title game with a career-high 212 yards on 40 carries, scoring three touchdowns on the day.
Lattimore made the exact contribution you need from a big play guy. He put South Carolina ahead early and threw in a dagger late in the game to seal the deal. In between, he carried the ball effectively to help the Gamecocks sustain long drives and keep Florida’s offense off the field. They won the time of possession battle by a whopping tally of 41 minutes to 19 minutes. With 2:43 left to play, Lattimore capitalized on a Florida fumble by scoring his third touchdown of the day on an 11-yard trot. That touchdown put South Carolina up three scores and nailed the door shut on the program’s first ever SEC East Title.
Next in line for the Gamecocks is the #2 ranked Auburn Tigers. These two will square off in the SEC Title game on December 4th, with the winner earning a spot in the Bowl Championship Series.