Hardest Working Man  

 

Who went above and beyond the call of duty in Week 12?

  • By Jim Reineking NFL.com
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These guys might not exactly be carrying a lunch pail to the stadium each week, but they did bring a blue-collar, working-man approach to the weekend's games. Take a look at all the nominees, then vote on your choice for the Hardest-Working Man for Week 12.

Connor Barwin, Houston Texans

When your team is down to its third-string quarterback (and throw in the added bonus of said quarterback being a rookie taking his first NFL snaps), it's basically up to the defense to make a stand to deliver victory. Up 20-10 going into the half, the Texans learned they'd be without starter Matt Leinart, who'd been making his first start of the season in the place of the Texans' regular starter Matt Schaub. With untested rookie T.J. Yates now operating the offense, the Texans' defense was forced to step it up. The much-improved unit did so in a big way, led by Barwin's massive four-sack, seven-tackle effort, stonewalling the Jaguars' offense and preserving the 20-13 victory.


Julian Edelman, New England Patriots

Since the last of the legendary 60-minute men -- "Concrete" Chuck Bednarik -- paid farewell to the game, few have carried the torch of a bygone era in football, a time when players were on the field on both offense and defense. More recently, the Patriots -- decimated by injuries in the defensive secondary during the 2004 season -- had employed receiver Troy Brown as a defensive back. Fast forward a few years later, and the Patriots are borrowing a page from their recent past by using Edelman as a receiver/return specialist/defensive back. On Sunday in a 38-20 win over the Eagles, Edelman's biggest contributions came on defense, where he stopped Eagles QB Vince Young on a scramble, and then executed a textbook hit on Young on a blitz. That's just some good, old-school football on display.


Robert Francois, Green Bay Packers

Like the aforementioned Texans, the Packers suffered a key injury, but this to the quarterback of the defense, linebacker A.J. Hawk. Hawk was ruled out of the Packers' Thanksgiving Day showdown with the Lions at the half and was replaced by the unheralded Francois -- who'd been inactive for Green Bay's previous five games. Making matters more difficult, Hawk wears the defensive unit's special helmet to receive radioed calls from the sidelines. So, the Packers went old school, relaying hand signals from the bench. Francois' moment came in the third quarter with the Packers holding a 14-0 lead. Francois leapt to collect a Matthew Stafford pass for his first career interception. On the Packers' first offensive play following the turnover, Aaron Rodgers hit James Jones for a 65-yard scoring strike that essentially ended the competitive phase of the Packers' 27-15 win in Detroit.


Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland Raiders

Missing some of their key offensive playmakers, the Raiders relied on their talented kicker to help the team defeat a Bears squad using a fill-in quarterback. Janikowski kicked a team-record six field goals (which is tied for third all-time with several other place kickers). Janikowski made field goals of 40, 47, 42, 19, 37, and 44 yards to break the team record he shared with Jeff Jaeger. The Raiders did manage to add a touchdown to all of Janikowski's successful kicks to defeat the Bears, 25-20, for Oakland's third consecutive victory.


Terrell Suggs, Baltimore Ravens

In a showdown between two of the NFL's most talented defenses, it was the Ravens who made the most lasting impression, thanks to the efforts of Suggs. The Ravens battered 49ers quarterback Alex Smith for much of the night despite playing without Ray Lewis, the team's leading tackler and emotional leader for more than a decade. Suggs helped fill that massive void, registering three sacks for the Ravens. As a team, the Ravens had a franchise-record nine sacks in the 16-6 victory that ended the 49ers' eight-game winning streak.

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