By Nick Shook
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Not too shabby this week, road teams. Five visitors produced wins, and one ended in a tie, which is gross but part of competition in instances in which neither road or home kickers can do their job effectively.
No worries. We still have stars from the road winners, including a big comeback win in the Peach State. These are your best performers away from home in Week 7.
Greatest on the Road
Denzel Perryman, San Diego Chargers
Is Perryman the first linebacker to earn this honor? I can’t confirm or deny. But he was the man who turned the Sunday’s game against the Falcons in San Diego’s favor.
Philip Rivers was in the midst of leading the Chargers back from the brink of defeat, leading a 15-play, 7:24 drive that ended in a Melvin Gordon touchdown reception. But San Diego desperately needed a stop. Matt Ryan was again driving the Falcons into San Diego territory to ice the game with another score, but Perryman jumped in front of a Ryan pass on the Chargers‘ 34, changing possession and sucking the air out of the Georgia Dome.
San Diego drove down the field, and after Antonio Gates couldn’t come up with a touchdown grab, settled for a game-tying field goal. The contest moved to overtime, where Perryman came through in the clutch yet again.
The situation: fourth-and-1 from Atlanta’s own 45. The Falcons had first possession of overtime, so a failure wouldn’t immediately sink them, but they chose to go for it with a run to the left. Perryman shot the gap, undercut tackle Jake Matthews (who was searching for Perryman to seal him off and open the lane for Devonta Freeman) and dropped the running back a yard behind the line of scrimmage. The turnover set up San Diego in Atlanta territory, from which Josh Lambo eventually kicked the winning field goal.
Perryman’s first big play gave the Chargers new life and the stop they needed late. His second set them up to win. He finished with six tackles, including the tackle for loss on Freeman, and an interception. The Chargers exited with their second-straight win.
Also considered …
Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Winston has been a mixed bag under center in Tampa Bay, but even with that considered, he shows flashes of why he was the first-overall selection in 2015. The man can ball.
Winston shook off an early interception to connect with Mike Evans often, finding his big wideout eight times for 96 yards and two touchdowns. Winston also hooked up with Russell Shepard five times for 77 yards and a score on a well-executed route from Shepard, who freed himself on a precise corner-post. The second-year signal caller commanded an offense that was down early on the road and looked well beyond his years, steadily chipping away until the game was Tampa Bay’s.
This week has selections from games that could have produced multiple nominees. Rivers and Gordon could have been chosen for the top spot from that game. This could have gone to Mike Evans or Jacquizz Rodgers, who is getting an abnormal amount of carries and gaining an equally stunning number of yards in his two games as the lead back for Tampa Bay. But it goes to Winston because he piloted an offense that faced a 14-point deficit and didn’t blink, outscoring San Francisco 34-3 in the remainder of the game.
T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts
It’s been a roller coaster ride of a season for Hilton. One week, he’ll explode for eight catches, 174 yards and one touchdown. The next, he’ll finish with seven grabs for 42 yards and a score. On Sunday, Hilton was the first of the two, much to Tennessee’s disdain.
Andrew Luck continued his dominance against the Titans, finding Hilton seven times for 133 yards and one touchdown. His longest reception was a 37-yard grab that ended in that score. With much thanks due to Luck and Hilton, Indianapolis bounced back from the crushing collapse against Houston a week prior, staying in the thick of the AFC South with a record of 3-4.