INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts' reigning First-Team All-Pros continued their campaigns for yet another year of recognition last Sunday against the Buccaneers, as linebacker Darius Leonard was named to Pro Football Focus' "NFL Week 14 Team of the Week," while guard Quenton Nelson was once again among the highest-graded players at his position.
Despite falling short, 38-35, in their Week 14 matchup at Raymond James Stadium, the Colts' defense was able to take advantage of a Buccaneers offense that led the league in turnovers, while the Indy offense was able to come up with some explosive plays of its own, leading to the pair of second-year studs being recognized.
In order of highest grade first, here are the Colts players who earned top-10 grades at their respective positions on Sunday:
Linebacker No. 1 (94.1), 78 snaps (100 percent)
What a day for the NFL's reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year. At this rate the Colts' star linebacker is likely to keep stacking hardware, most recently joining PFF's "NFL Week 14 Team of the Week."
Leonard had a higher grade than any NFL defender in Week 14, also earning the highest single-game grade of his young career. He finished the game with nine tackles (one for loss), two interceptions (that he combined to return 91 yards) and the first defensive touchdown of his career. According to PFF, as a pass rusher Leonard had three quarterback hurries, and he earned four "stops," which they constitute as a play that's "failure" for the offense. In coverage, Leonard was targeted eight times, allowing five catches for 36 yards (7.2 avg.) and a passer rating 33.3 when targeted. Per PFF:
"Darius Leonard made the biggest defensive play of the game by dropping back from close to the line of scrimmage to intercept a Winston pass and take it back for a touchdown. That play was a highlight of an overall great day in pass coverage for Leonard... There wasn't much that Leonard didn't do against the Bucs. He picked off two passes, including a pick-six, and he collected a couple of stops in the run game. He also didn't allow a single first down on eight targets in his coverage, and he only missed one tackle on 11 attempts."
Guard No. 6 (77.1), 63 snaps (100 percent)
Also coming in near the top of the positional rankings at guard is Nelson, a mainstay on the weekly PFF review. He earned the second highest run-blocking grade among all guards in Week 14 (85.0), and the fifth highest among all offensive linemen. In pass protection, Nelson was docked for allowing three quarterback hurries, although he did not allow any hits or sacks on Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett.
The Colts had success running behind Nelson, but they were not very productive as a whole, totaling just 66 rushing yards and one touchdown on 22 carries (3.0 avg.) against the second-best rush defense in the league. In the passing game, Brissett had his fifth-most passing yards of the season to go along with two passing touchdowns, and was sacked just once.