Seven closing-line underdogs ended up winning outright in Week 9 of the 2021 NFL season. The Cleveland Browns started proceedings by knocking off the Cincinnati Bengals in impressive fashion, and the Derrick Henry-less Tennessee Titans finished things off by rolling past the Los Angeles Rams in prime time.
Now that the first run of PFF analysis has been finalized and made available in PFF's Premium Stats, it’s time to highlight Week 9’s top performers. Here, we present PFF’s Team of the Week and player awards from Week 9 of the 2021 NFL season.
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PFF TEAM OF THE WEEK
QB: Justin Fields, Chicago Bears
RB: Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts
WR: DeVonta Smith, Philadelphia Eagles
WR: Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers
TE: George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers
Flex: Cordarelle Patterson, Atlanta Falcons
LT: Terron Armstead, New Orleans Saints
LG: Matt Feiler, Los Angeles Chargers
C: Andre James, Las Vegas Raiders
RG: Wyatt Teller, Cleveland Browns
RT: Ryan Ramczyk, New Orleans Saints
DI: Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams
DI: Jeffery Simmons, Tennessee Titans
Edge: Kwity Paye, Indianapolis Colts
Edge: Chris Jones, Kansas City Chiefs
LB: Leighton Vander Esch, Dallas Cowboys
LB: Kyzir White, Los Angeles Chargers
CB: Denzel Ward, Cleveland Browns
CB: J.C. Jackson, New England Patriots
S: Xavier McKinney, New York Giants
S: Cam Bynum, Minnesota Vikings
Flex: Jalen Ramsey, Los Angeles Rams
Offensive Player of the Week: G Wyatt Teller, Cleveland Browns
Browns guard Wyatt Teller demolished anything and everything in front of him against the in-state rival Cincinnati Bengals, earning a 93.8 PFF grade for the game. Teller lost only one rep in pass protection, posted a 92.0 run-block grade and recorded five big-time blocks, the most in a single game by an offensive lineman all year.
Wyatt Teller is going to get paid this offseason pic.twitter.com/M27M0nDMTI
— Anthony Treash (@PFF_Anthony) November 8, 2021
Teller has been on an absolute tear over the last five weeks. Since Week 5, the Browns guard has earned an NFL-high 94.5 PFF grade and is looking like the guard we saw in 2020 when he led the position in PFF grade for the year.
Teller is on track to get paid this offseason, as he is slated to hit free agency after earning a mere $2.18 million in 2021.
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Defensive Player of the Week: CB Denzel Ward, Cleveland Browns
While Teller dominated in the trenches, Ward was an impact player on the back end and made the best play of the entire week to help the Browns pull away to a big lead.
Cincinnati drove the ball down the field on their opening drive, only to be spoiled by a Denzel Ward 100-yard pick-six that shifted the game. Wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase tried to get the score on a goal-line pivot route, but Ward didn’t bite:
Play of the Week: Ward’s house call to spoil Cincinnati’s opening drive
this play alone took Cincy’s win probability from 70.5% down to 47.8%.
proving to be a costly mistake as they are down 24-7 near the end of the first half. https://t.co/EEIgQYyJyv
— Anthony Treash (@PFF_Anthony) November 7, 2021
Ward went on to allow only one catch for 11 yards while forcing two other incompletions, paving the way for a 93.1 coverage grade for the game. The Ohio State product has made his name known as one of the NFL's best single-coverage corners ever since he was drafted fourth overall in 2018, which showed in Sunday’s big win.
Rookie of the Week: WR DeVonta Smith, Philadelphia Eagles
Smith joins fellow first-rounders Ja’Marr Chase, Kyle Pitts and Kadarius Toney as the only rookie pass-catchers to earn a 90.0-plus PFF grade this year. Smith posted a 92.3 receiving grade and averaged 5.27 yards per route run against the Los Angeles Chargers, career-high marks by over 18 grading points and 2.9 yards.
All five of his receptions went for a gain of 15-plus yards, making him one of nine players in the NFL to have at least five such plays in a single game this season.
Can’t guard DeVonta ????
— PFF (@PFF) November 7, 2021
Offensive Line of the Week: Indianapolis Colts
Running backs Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines took advantage of the wide-open holes in the ground game thanks to a dominant performance from the big men up front. The Colts' offensive line helped provide 188 yards before contact for the game, which is 92 more than any other team in a single game this season. There were five runs where the running backs saw at least 10 yards before contact, tying for the most in a single game since 2018. On those plays, the backs rushed for 171 yards and three touchdowns.
Indy’s pass protection was also crisp, as the line combined for the second-best offensive line pass-block grade for the week. The Colts were one of five offensive lines for the week that weren’t responsible for a sack allowed, and they allowed just five pressures overall on 33 snaps.
Secret Superstar of the Week: DI Taylor Stallworth, Indianapolis Colts
Taylor Stallworth began his time in the NFL as an undrafted free agent back in 2018, and he had minimal success in his career prior to Week 9 of the 2021 season. Stallworth only produced 13 pressures in total across 474 such snaps from 2018 through Week 8 of 2021 with the Saints and Colts.
The former South Carolina Gamecock came alive on Thursday Night Football, generating two sacks, one hit and one hurry on 20 opportunities en route to a 90.5 pass-rush grade. Stallworth also got his hands up for a batted pass that linebacker Bobby Okereke grabbed for an interception.
Considering this was just the second time he received double-digit pass-rush snaps in a single game this year, this was one of the biggest surprise performances of the season.
Taylor Stallworth is a player I've never watched before last night but he made a notable impact on just 22 snaps, including these 3 HQ reps as a rusher, including 1 HQ sack, all using different moves. Very impressive. pic.twitter.com/VDJeqafo6Q
— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) November 5, 2021
Biggest Game-Changing Moment: Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan’s big-time throw to Cordarrelle Patterson
The Falcons were in prime position to win outright on the road as 6.5-point dogs early on in the fourth quarter, as they took a 24-6 lead with just over 10 minutes left to play. But, as the minutes wound off the clock, it looked as though the trademark Falcons collapse was inevitable.
New Orleans ended up taking a one-point lead with just over a minute to play, and Atlanta looked poised for defeat as they lined up at the 25-yard line following a touchback with 61 seconds left on the clock. Matty Ice and Swiss Army knife Cordalle Patterson had other plans:
OFFENSIVE WEAPON ????????
— PFF (@PFF) November 7, 2021
Falcons’ Win Probability Change: +41.7%
This was one of four big-time throws from Ryan, who earned a 78.8 passing grade for the game. He now has a 91.7 passing grade since Week 4, the highest in the NFL. Patterson, meanwhile, is the second-most-productive receiver in the NFL, with 3.33 yards per route run generated.