PFT’s Week 14 2022 NFL awards

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Fourteen weeks are in the books. Five more awards are due to be, um, awarded.

Here are the five awards for the most recent week of NFL action, with various finalists who did enough to at least merit a mention.

If you disagree with any of our decisions, sound off in the comments. It won’t change anything, but maybe it will make you feel a little better.

Offensive player of the week: Rams quarterback Baker Mayfield.

He was a Panther on Monday. A Ram on Tuesday. He played on Thursday. After passing the eyeball test, he ultimately woke up (feeling dangerous) a team that had scored only three points in more than 56 minutes before racking up two touchdowns, the second of which came on a 98-yard drive starting with 90 seconds left, and no timeouts.

It provided one of the most authentic and original moments of true joy during the 2022 season, especially since the Rams have no realistic shot at parlaying that win into a playoff berth.

And it immediately gives Mayfield a shot at becoming a starter in 2023. Maybe with the very team he beat.

If you think that sounds crazy, remember these facts: (1) the Raiders can rip up Derek Carr’s contract just after the Super Bowl and walk away from any further financial obligation; and (2) just before the 2018 draft, Raiders coach Josh McDaniels (then with the Patriots) secretly worked out Mayfield.

McDaniels surely doesn’t forget that. And he’ll definitely never forget what played out in front of him last Thursday night. Few others who witnessed it will, either.

Other finalists: Jaguars tight end Evan Engram, Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, Lions quarterback Jared Goff, Eagles running back Miles Sanders, 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey, Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts.

Defensive player of the week: Bill defensive end Greg Rousseau.

Days after the Bills learned that Von Miller won’t be back at all this year, other defensive players had to step up. And they did, led by the second-year, first-round pick.

Rousseau had two sacks and a forced fumble during a game that saw the usually potent Buffalo offense score only 20 points. It was part of a broader overall effort that relentlessly harassed both New York quarterbacks, Mike White and Joe Flacco, throughout the day.

After the 20-12 win, Rousseau explained by phone to PFT the mindset that propelled the defense, once they knew they’d have to do it the rest of the day without Miller.

And while he won’t be back in 2022, expect him to be back in 2023.

“I was talking to him the other day actually,” Rousseau said. “He’s in good spirits, man. He’s already working on his rehab.”

And the Bills are still working on that first Super Bowl win. As Christmas approaches, they’re in pretty good position to get it.

Other finalists: Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham, Ravens linebacker Roquan Smith, 49ers linebacker Dre Greenlaw, Panthers cornerback Jaycee Horn, Patriots pass rusher Josh Uche.

Rookies of the week: Jaguars edge rusher Travon Walker.

The first overall pick in the 2022 draft came up with a big performance at the perfect time, helping the up-and-down Jaguars to surprisingly upend the AFC South-leading Titans.

Walker had a sack that forced a fumble at a key early moment in the game. He was otherwise effective throughout the day as a pass rusher. And John Shipley of points out what could be the big difference for Walker — starting the play from a three-point stance, versus standing up.

Per Shipley, Walker played only 14 snaps in a three-point stance through his first 12 games. On Sunday, he put a hand on the ground eight times.

Other finalists: Lions defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy, Patriots cornerback Marcus Jones, Patriots running back Pierre Strong.

Coach of the week: Panthers coach Steve Wilks.

Panthers owner David Tepper said on October 10 that Wilks can win the permanent gig if he does an incredible job. On Sunday in Seattle, he definitely did.

In racking up Carolina’s first road win in more than a year, Wilks called for a run-heavy approach that racked up 223 rushing yards and upset Seattle in one of the toughest places to play.

Now 5-8, the Panthers can win the NFC South by winning their final four games. Even if they don’t, Wilks should get a shot at keeping the job for 2023 and beyond. Even if it’s unfair (and it is) to require him to meet such a high, and subjective, bar to earn it, he is.

Other finalists: 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, Ravens coach John Harbaugh, Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson.

Play of the week: The Patrick Mahomes knuckleball touchdown pass to running back Jerrick McKinnon.

When another quarterback makes a ridiculous throw, many now say that the Internet would break if Mahomes did that. Mahomes made a ridiculous throw on Sunday, and the Internet definitely bent.

For good reason. Rolling to his right and by all appearances preparing to start one of those stop-motion, man-among-boys, slicing-and-dicing-with-a-dull-knife runs through and around the Denver defense, Mahomes did a no- look flip of the ball toward running back Jerick McKinnon, who found himself all alone after his man decided to join what would have been an inevitably futile pursuit of Mahomes.

McKinnon caught the ball and exploded to the end zone, racking up a 56-yard touchdown.

The more I watch that play, the more I think that, if McKinnon were a bit farther to the inside, Mahomes would have flipped the ball behind the back. One of these days, he will.

Other finalists: Panthers receiver Terrace Marshall catching a pass between his legs; Dolphins receiver Tyreek Hill’s fumble recovery and return for a touchdown; the game-winning touchdown pass from Rams quarterback Baker Mayfield to receiver Van Jefferson; Chiefs linebacker Willie Gay’s pick six; Lions tackle Penei Sewell’s catch on third-and-seven with two minutes left to ice the game; Eagles quarterback Jalens Hurts’s touchdown pass to receiver Devonta Smith on fourth and seven; Lions quarterback Jared Goff’s 48-yard touchdown pass to receiver DJ Chark; Bills tight end Dawson Knox’s touchdown somersault.

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