Another week in the NFL comes and goes and Iowa’s tight end group continues to shine. And that’s with George Kittle on a bye. Let’s go!
Last week, Hockenson was a trade deadline day mover, heading from the Detroit Lions to the Minnesota Vikings in a somewhat surprising deal. We had to do a quick edit to last week’s Hawks in the NFL story to account for it. In all, it figured to be a good move for Hockenson, going from now 2-6 Detroit to 7-1 and first-place Minnesota.
Most figured it would take a little time for Hockenson to blend into the Minnesota offense. NO SIR! Hockenson immediately fit in with Kirk Cousins, Dalvin Cook, et al, as he pulled in 9 catches for 70 yards in a 20-17 win at Washington, one of several close games in a chaotic (read: awesome) morning window.
The biggest catch was the last one, a 6-yard reception on 3rd and 4 that picked up a crucial first down that allowed the Vikings to run more clock and kick the winning field goal in the last 15 seconds to win yet another close game.
Hockenson’s 9-70 day moved him to 35 receptions for 465 yards and 3 touchdowns for the season.
Also sitting in first is Noah Fant and the Seattle Seahawks. Fant’s had a quiet few weeks, catching just 3 passes for 26 yards in the last two games as Seattle surged to first in the NFC West. Against the floundering Arizona Cardinals, Fant led the Seahawks in receiving, catching 5 of his 6 targets for 96 yards in Seattle’s 31-21 win. He really likes playing the Cardinals - in two games against Arizona (both wins), Fant had 11 receptions for 141 yards. He is now at 27 receptions for 272 yards and a touchdown. It hasn’t been a hugely productive year for Fant, but he’s still third on the team in yardage behind Tyler Lockett and DJ Metcalf.
Shout out to Austin Blythe, as he returned from a knee injury suffered against the New York Giants last week to start again. Seattle’s reboot is legitimately impressive - they invested in their offensive line, they nailed the Kenneth Walker III pick, and the chemistry is great with Geno Smith at the helm. Behind Blythe and their rebuilt line, Seattle is 10th in rushing per game but they average over 5 yards a carry, currently 3rd in the league. Keep an eye on Seattle’s December 15 game against San Francisco. There are a lot of Iowa players involved there and, oh yeah, it will now likely have playoff implications.
Wirfs continued his stellar play, with this stat maybe the most impressive out of any former Iowa player in the NFL.
Pressure rate allowed leaders— Rob Searles (@RobBob17) November 7, 2022
1. Tristan Wirfs — 0.7%
2. Michael Onwenu — 1.3%
3. Josh Myers — 1.7%
4. Jason Kelce — 1.8%
5. Cesar Ruiz — 2.0%
0.7 percent??? Amazing. He’s one of the few bright spots for the Bucs right now, though they kept their season afloat with a 16-13 win over the Los Angeles Rams. For some reason, the Bucs and Seahawks play next week in...Munich? I guess that’s necessary.
Former Iowa defenders had a nice week. Christian Kirksey and Desmond King started again for the disastrous Houston Texans in their 29-17 loss to Philadelphia. Kirksey logged 7 tackles and 1 for loss, while King registered 4 tackles and 2 for loss. Recently-signed Jaleel Johnson picked up a tackle and also recovered a fumble.
A.J. Epenesa also picked up a fumble recovery in the Bills’ shocking 20-17 loss to the New York Jets (I probably shouldn’t say shocking; the Jets are 6-3 and would be a slam dunk playoff team if guys like Breece Hall hadn’t been lost for the year to a knee injury). He had a scary moment shortly before halftime, but only missed one play.
#Bills AJ Epenesa left ankle injury.— Banged Up Bills (@BangedUpBills) November 7, 2022
Can’t tell much from this angle, but looks to get the left ankle stepped on or kicked as he comes through the line.
Missed one play & then returned without apparent issue. pic.twitter.com/emerzWT3s6
But we probably need to talk about the Bills - the run defense has looked bad the last two weeks and Josh Allen had an obvious elbow injury at the end of the game. Buffalo - can’t have nice things!!