It’s awards time. It’s time for awards.
This is the spot where I fill a few paragraphs explaining what the awards are. After 10 prior weeks, I don’t really need to do it.
So we can get right to it. Five award winners. Plenty of other finalists for each one.
Offensive player of the week: Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce.
Kelce, a first-ballot Hall of Famer and, in the opinion of quarterback Patrick Mahomes, arguably the greatest tight end of all time, earned at least finalist status by wearing an awesome “Football, Family, and Fonzie” T-shirt during pregame warmups.
Kelce then put on a show for a crowd that included Henry Winkler, who played the iconic character, at one time the most popular figure on all of American television. Six catches, 115 yards, and three touchdowns, including the game winner.
Even without Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs offense keeps rolling. It keeps rolling in large part because it still has Travis Kelce.
Other finalists: Titans running back Derrick Henry (87 rushing yards, one touchdown, 45 receiving yards, two completions, one passing touchdown), Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (307 passing yards, two touchdowns), Falcons running back Cordarrelle Patterson (52 rushing yards , 103-yard kickoff return for a touchdown), Lions running back Jamaal Williams (three rushing touchdowns), Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (355 passing yards, four touchdowns, two interceptions), Bengals running back Samaje Perine (three receiving touchdowns), Cowboys running back Tony Pollard (189 yards from scrimmage, two touchdowns), Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (329 passing yards, three touchdowns).
Defensive player of the week: Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons.
A week after being neutralized by a heavy running attack that kept the pass rush from getting going, the neo-Doomsday Defense shut down the Minnesota offense, sacking quarterback Kirk Cousins a career-high seven times. Parsons was the unquestioned leader of the pack.
It started on the opening drive. Parsons chased down Cousins and forced a fumble. Although the Cowboys scored only three points on the short field, it set the tone for what became a blowout — the biggest road win in franchise history.
Other finalists: Patriots linebacker Matthew Judon (1.5 sacks), Lions defensive end Aidan Hutchinson (interception, fumble recovery), Lions defensive lineman Alim McNeill (one sack, three tackles for loss), Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby (two sacks, forced fumble ), Bengals defensive end Trey Hendrickson (two sacks).
Rookies of the week: Lions defensive end Aidan Hutchinson.
The rookie usually does his best work when chasing the quarterback. On Sunday, he pretended to do so before dropping into coverage and made an impressive interception that sparked an upset road win over the Giants.
It came with less than seven minutes in the first half. The Giants led the game, 6-3. On the second and six play that started at the New York 31, Hutchinson started to rush and then backpedaled, snatching the all at the line to gain and returning it inside the 20.
Hutchinson also recovered a fumble. The interception made him the second player since 1982 with at least five sacks and two interceptions in his first 10 career games, joining Leslie O’Neal, who did it in 1986.
Other finalists: Titans receiver Treylon Burks (seven catches, 111 yards), Packers receiver Christian Watson (two receiving touchdowns), Bills running back James Cook (86 rushing yards), Chiefs receiver Skyy Moore (five catches, 63 yards), Saints receiver Chris Olave (five catches, 102 yards, one touchdown).
Coach of the week: Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy.
A week after returning to Green Bay and presiding over the first game in franchise history that resulted in blowing a lead of 14 or more points entering the fourth quarter, McCarthy got his team ready to burst the bubble of a Minnesota team that kept finding ways to win late games.
The best way to prevent a magical, late-game comeback is to build an early lead and keep building it, making fourth-quarter magic impossible. That’s exactly what the Cowboys did.
Obviously, it’s easier said than done. The Cowboys, however, made it look easy on Sunday.
Other finalists: 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, Commanders coach Ron Rivera, Bills coach Sean McDermott, Lions coach Dan Campbell, Titans coach Mike Vrabel.
Play of the week: 86-yard punt return for touchdown by Patriots defensive back Marcus Jones.
Once Jones got clear along the sideline, he broke inside to elude punter Braden Mann, and off Jones went.
It is possible, if not probable, that the touchdown was cemented by an illegal block in the back. But it’s not a foul if it isn’t called, and it wasn’t called.
The end result? The Patriots secured a win by scoring only three points. Thanks to Jones and the teammates who cleared a path for him.
Other finalists: Titans running back Derrick Henry’s three-yard touchdown pass to tight end Austin Hooper, Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert’s 51-yard touchdown pass to Joshua Palmer, Bears tight end Cole Kmet’s one-handed 26-yard catchCowboys running back Tony Pollard’s 68-yard catch and run for a touchdown, Cowboys receiver CeeDee Lamb’s toe-tap sideline catchthe walk-off touchdown throw from Raiders quarterback Derek Carr to receiver Davante Adams, Commanders defensive back Kendall Fuller’s pick sixFalcons running back Cordarrelle Patterson’s 103-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.