Hardest Working Man  

 

Who went above and beyond the call of duty in Week 16?

  • 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 16.

David Akers, San Francisco 49ers

Akers earns a spot here on two fronts: 1. For four field goals, including the winner, in the 49ers' hard-fought 19-17 win over the Seahawks; 2. For a season's worth of success on three-pointers, which puts him at an NFL-best and 49ers-record 156 points this season (Akers is the first player to have 150-plus points in a season since LaDainian Tomlinson broke Paul Hornung's long-standing mark with 186 in 2006). Akers set a new NFL record with his 42nd field goal of the season on Saturday. However, it was his 39-yarder with 2:57 left that helped the 49ers edge the Seahawks and remain in the driver's seat for the No. 2 playoff seed in the NFC.


Jairus Byrd, Buffalo Bills

As a team, the Bills had four interceptions of Broncos QB Tim Tebow in a decisive 40-14 win Saturday. However, it was Byrd's interception and return for a touchdown that set off back-to-back pick sixes for the Bills, who also got an interception return for a touchdown from Spencer Johnson. The plays sealed what was the most dreadful performance of Tebow's short NFL career and also ended Buffalo's embarrassing seven-game losing streak in emphatic fashion.


Victor Cruz, New York Giants

The Giants proved that actions speak louder than words, capping a week of back-and-forth trash talk with a thorough defeat of their crosstown rivals. The victory was highlighted by Cruz's 99-yard catch and run for a touchdown. That play helped Cruz set two new Giants team records. Cruz -- who finished with three receptions for 164 yards -- broke Amani Toomer's single-season mark for yards receiving (1,358 to 1,343), and also set a new team record for longest touchdown reception. With Tom Brady and Wes Welker hooking up for a 99-yard TD play in Week 1, this season also marks the first time in NFL history with two 99-yard TD passes.


Jerome Simpson, Cincinnati Bengals

Simpson didn't exactly have the most outstanding statistical day (five catches for 42 yards), but it was his touchdown play that will be relived for years to come. Simpson got open for a catch-and-run to the goal line. With the Cardinals' Daryl Washington standing between him and the end zone, Simpson jumped and somersaulted over the linebacker, landing on both feet in the end zone and raising both arms like a triumphant gymnast. There was no Russian judge in sight to keep Simpson from his perfect 10 on this play.


Joe Webb, Minnesota Vikings

With both the starting quarterback (Christian Ponder) and running back (Adrian Peterson) out of the game, the Vikings called on backups Joe Webb and Toby Gerhart to help them try to avoid the worst season in franchise history (the team is currently 3-12, and a win next week would put them ahead of the 1984 Minnesota team that went 3-13). Webb, who entered the game early in the second half, was an inspiring presence for the Vikings, running for a touchdown and then passing for two more as the Vikings overcame the Redskins, 33-26. It was the first multi-TD game of Webb's short career.

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