From here on out every Wednesday, I will be giving Hajek’s Handouts to the prime performers from the past weekend of football for the rest of the season. Awards that will be given, will be in categories such as best air performance and best ground performance. The winners of these awards are not just based on stats, but also based on the magnitude of the game and how their performance helped their team win.
- Through the Air- This award goes to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback, Josh Freeman. Freeman threw for 303 yards and 2 touchdowns with no interceptions. Coming off a big loss to the 49ers, the Bucs needed a bounce back game as team, but more importantly needed a bounce back performance from their quarterback to lead them to victory. That is exactly what he did by controlling the ball, not turning it over, and putting up points on the board. This victory was not against any slouch either, they beat a division rival, the New Orleans Saints. With this win it kept the Bucs on the top of the NFC South and undefeated in their division.
- On the Ground- What an easy choice this was. Frank Gore literally ran away with this award with his spectacular performance against the Detroit Lions on Sunday. Gore came up huge for the 49ers rushing for 141 yards and a touchdown, not to mention that he did not put the ball on the ground once. With his clutch performance it gave his quarterback, Alex Smith, breathing room against a fierce Lions defense. Gore had 9.4 yards a carry, and helped the 49ers keep the Lions offense in check.
- Best Hands- This might come as a surprise to many, but the player that earned this award goes to Devin Hester. He was electrifying right from the first possession of the game, and kept his energy up the whole game. On the very first possession of the game, Jay Cutler, threw a 48 bomb to Hester who had beaten the defense by a few steps. This one play by Hester set the tone for the rest of the night, and it was only three minutes into the game. He ended up having 5 catches for 91 yards and a touchdown, but that is not the only place where he left his mark on the game. He also had a 98 yard kick return for a touchdown as well and a 27 yard punt return that ended up being a field goal for the offense. Hester basically beat the Vikings by himself scoring 14 points, but creating 17 points all together compared to the Vikings 10 total points.
- Shutdown Defense- Surprisingly the Philadelphia Eagles get the award for Shutdown Defense. This should not be a surprise with the lineup they have on paper, but with the way they have been playing, and against the red hot Washington Redskins, this definitely came as a surprise. The Eagles defense forced 4 turnovers, all coming on interceptions. This was a much needed performance preventing them from becoming 1-5 and are now 2-4 because of it. Not only that, but they forced the Redskins to make a quarterback switch that now looks like will be permanent for the rest of the season.
- Clutch Performance- Maybe for the first time in his career, however, Alex Smith gets the Clutch Performance award for week 6. Even though Smith had a couple turnovers, he came up clutch in a big game when the pressure was on. He threw a perfect slant pass to Delanie Walker, inside two minutes to take the lead. Smith stood strong under center the whole game against a vicious defensive line, and he managed the game perfectly throughout all 4 quarters. He never got rattled even after committing a couple of turnovers. This was a side of Alex Smith that we had never seen before and I want to say congratulations Alex Smith.