Darius Leonard Reclaims NFL Lead In Tackles With Big Day Against Bills

Indianapolis Colts rookie linebacker Darius Leonard reclaimed the NFL’s lead in tackles with 17 stops against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. The South Carolina State product also added another fumble recovery, leading to an Indy score.

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Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard (53) comes off the field after a fumble recovery against the Buffalo Bills during the first half of an NFL football game in Indianapolis, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

INDIANAPOLIS — Darius Leonard lost the NFL lead in tackles for a whole three days before regaining it against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday afternoon.

Last week, Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker racked up eight tackles against the Denver Broncos on Thursday Night Football to move his total to 67, putting him atop the NFL leaderboard in that category.

Leonard had 62 stops at the time and was leading the league before Baker took the field Thursday — impressive considering Leonard missed the Colts' Week 5 matchup against the New England Patriots with an ankle injury.

When the Colts kicked off against the Bills at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday, Leonard once against went into "Maniac" mode, and by the end of Indy's 37-5 victory, he had racked up another 17 total tackles, including 12 of the solo variety.

Leonard continues to impress those playing with and against him.

"D is playing at an extremely high level for a very young player, and that's what we expect," Colts safety Mike Mitchell said after Sunday's game. "That's why he was drafted high, and that's why he's doing his thing."

Leonard, the second-round pick out of South Carolina State, didn't take long at all to regain the league in tackles.

He was No. 1 again by halftime of Sunday's game, as he racked up six tackles in the first two quarters, and also added a fumble recovery.

Then, as he's been known to do, the tackles really started to come in bunches, as Leonard collected seven tackles alone in the third quarter as the Bills, down 24-0 at halftime, tried to mount any sort of comeback.

Leonard's 79 tackles now leads the NFL by a wide margin; Baker is in second place, 12 tackles behind Leonard, the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Month for September.

Leonards speed was on full display against Buffalo, meeting outside runners with good angles to force them out of bounds and tracking down pass-catchers quickly after they caught the ball.

According to Pro Football Focus, it was Leonard's second best game of the season, as they assigned him an overall grade of 81.0. He had a grade of 92.6 in Week 2 when he totaled 19 tackles, 1.0 sack and a forced fumble against the Washington Redskins — a performance that earned him AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.

Sunday was the fourth game this season in which Leonard had at least 10 tackles, and his second with more than 15.

And Leonard's not only always around the ball — he's about as sure a tackler as there is in the league.

According to PFF, Leonard missed zero tackles on Sunday, and, in fact, in 420 defensive snaps on the season he's been credited with just three missed tackles.

He's also allowed his fewest yards per reception and yards after catch on the season as well. On the six receptions made on seven targets in his area, the completions went for an average of just 7.3 yards, and he allowed just 22 yards after catch.

Leonard continues to be more than just a tackling machine, however. He has seven tackles for loss, four sacks, two forced fumbles, two fumbles recovered and two pass breakups to go with his 79 tackles on the season.

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