Two of the winners of the NFL’s Player of the Week awards announced on Wednesday have Alabama football roots.
Former Alabama All-American Derrick Henry is the AFC Offensive Player of the Week and Greenville High School alumnus Za’Darius Smith is the NFC Defensive Player of the Week for Week 8 of the NFL’s 2022 season.
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In the Tennessee Titans’ 17-10 victory over the Houston Texans on Sunday, Henry ran for 219 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries and caught a 9-yard pass.
In the Minnesota Vikings’ 34-26 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, Smith made seven tackles, recorded three sacks, registered four tackles for loss and broke up a pass.
Until Sunday, no player in NFL history had scored at least two rushing touchdowns or recorded at least 150 rushing yards in four consecutive games against the same opponent. Henry achieved both those feats as he recorded his fourth consecutive game with at least 200 rushing yards against the Texans.
Henry is tied with O.J. Simpson and Adrian Peterson for the most games with at least 200 rushing yards in NFL history with six.
Henry had at least two rushing touchdowns in each of those games. No other player in NFL history has more than three games with at least 200 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns in each. Henry has more than that many in his past four games against the Texans.
Henry also became the franchise’s career touchdown leader, moving out of a tie with Earl Campbell and passing Eddie George by reaching 75 TDs.
Henry has won seven AFC Offensive Player of the Week awards. He has won the most NFL weekly awards in Titans’ history and is tied with Shaun Alexander for the most won by a former Alabama running back. With 15, former Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Derrick Thomas has the most NFL weekly awards among Alabama alumni.
Smith became the sixth player this season to make three sacks in one game. The outside linebacker’s final sack on Sunday came with Arizona at the Minnesota 37-yard line, and he dropped Cardinals QB Kyler Murray for a 7-yard loss with 10 seconds left in the game.
While lifting his sack totals to 8.5 in 2022 and 53 in his career, Smith won an NFL weekly award for the third time and became the first Minnesota linebacker to win the NFC Defensive Player of the Week Award since Eric Kendricks in Week 1 of the 2016 season. Smith was the AFC Defensive Player of the Week for Week 6 of the 2018 season with the Baltimore Ravens and the NFC Defensive Player of the Week for Week 4 of the 2020 season with the Green Bay Packers.
Smith recorded the fourth game in his career with at least three sacks.
The other award winners for Week 8 of the 2022 season were San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey, NFC Offensive; Denver Broncos defensive end Dre’Mont Jones, AFC Defensive; Seattle Seahawks tight end Will Dissly, NFC Special Teams; and New England Patriots kicker Nick Folk, AFC Special Teams.
Five other players with Alabama football roots have won a Player of the Week award this season. Pittsburgh Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama) was the AFC Defensive Player of the Week for Week 1, Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama) was the AFC Offensive Player of the Week for Week 2, Denver Broncos punter Corliss Waitman (South Alabama) was the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for Week 3, Cincinnati Bengals kicker Evan McPherson (Fort Payne) was the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for Week 4 and New York Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams (Wenonah, Alabama) was the AFC Defensive Player of the Week for Week 6.
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Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at @AMarkG1.
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