The NFL announced its players of the week across the AFC and NFC. Here’s a rundown of the award winners who were honored for some outstanding performances during the first weekend of the 2016 season.
Offensive Player of the Week: DeAngelo Williams, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Williams allows Steelers fans to forget about Le’Veon Bell quite easily. He’s accustomed to stepping in for Bell in dire straits and delivered once again during Pittsburgh’s 38-16 beating of the Washington Redskins on Monday night. Williams rushed for 143 yards on 26 carries and also scored twice. Williams will have two more games as the starter before Bell returns from suspension.
Defensive Player of the Week: Whitney Mercilus, DE, Houston Texans
While J.J. Watt shook off the rust, Mercilus destroyed the Bears offensive line. He recorded 2 sacks and 4 tackles in Houston’s 23-14 win. Mercilus was a force throughout the afternoon. Just imagine what Houston’s defense could look like when Watt gets back to his incredible self.
Special Teams Player of the Week: Stephen Gostkowski, kicker, New England Patriots
This will likely be the first of many awards for Gostkowski. The accurate kicker was a vital part of New England’s Week 1 upset of the Arizona Cardinals, converting three field goals from 32, 47 and 52 yards Sunday night. He scored 11 of New England’s 23 points on the night.
Offensive Player of the Week: Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Winston began his second professional season in style. He threw for 281 yards and 4 touchdowns while leading his Buccaneers to an impressive 31-24 road victory against division rival Atlanta. Winston also spread the ball around to eight different receivers and threw each of his four touchdowns to a different target.
Defensive Player of the Week: Eric Kendricks, LB, Minnesota Vikings
Kendricks made arguably the play of the game during Minnesota’s 25-16 victory against Tennessee. The Vikings offense struggled, but Kendricks gave his team the lead with an outstanding pick-six to give Minnesota a 13-10 advantage. Kendricks read Marcus Mariota’s dump-off pass beautifully and returned the interception 77 yards. It was the first of two defensive touchdowns to propel the Vikings. Kendricks finished with 6 total tackles.
Special Teams Player of the Week: Sam Martin, punter, Detroit Lions
The Lions and Colts lit up the scoreboard Sunday afternoon at Lucas Oil Stadium. But Lions punter Sam Martin got plenty of opportunities to shine during his first game after earning an impressive contract extension. Martin punted four times and posted an excellent net punting average of 55.5 yards. Two punts were downed inside the 20-yard-line and the Colts had only 13 punt return yards on two returns. Martin earned every penny of his four-year, $13.6 million extension last week.