Rookie safety Reed Blankenship got an extended run in the Philadelphia secondary on Sunday night after NFL interceptions leader C.J. Gardner-Johnson left the Eagles’ game against the Green Bay Packers with a rib injury in the first quarter.
The former West Limestone High School star responded by tying for the team lead with six tackles and getting his first NFL interception in Philadelphia’s 40-33 victory.
Blankenship picked off a pass by Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers on a first-and-10 snap at the Eagles 28-yard line. Blankenship had a 4-yard return to the Philadelphia 22-yard line as the Eagles retained a 20-14 lead with 11:12 left in the second quarter.
“That was a big-time play,” Philadelphia coach Nick Sirianni said. “And he made some big-time tackles.”
After five seasons as a starter at Middle Tennessee, Blankenship entered the NFL as a rookie free agent and earned a spot on Philadelphia’s regular-season roster despite his undrafted status.
“A couple of guys I coached with at Indy were at Middle Tennessee State,” Sirianni said, “and when we signed him to a rookie free-agent deal, they said, ‘This guy’s a stud. You don’t understand this guy. We love this guy. You don’t understand how special that kid was for us.’ And then we did something our last preseason game and I saw he was like a five-year starter. His stat line was unbelievable.
“But you noticed him earlier. And here’s where you really noticed him: When we went live with our young guys … and it just seemed like every time he was coming up and making tackles. We liked him without pads on, now we really liked him when he’s able to show his physicality out in the field. I think that’s where we really started talking about him more and more and more.”
Entering Sunday night, Blankenship had played in four of Philadelphia’s 10 contests and had three tackles after getting on the field for two defensive snaps and 53 special-teams plays.
The Eagles’ victory lifted their NFL-best record to 10-1.
Blankenship was among the 34 players from Alabama high schools and colleges (excluding Alabama and Auburn) who got on the field on the 12th Sunday of the NFL’s 103rd season.
Three other former state players were involved in the Green Bay-Philadelphia game:
· James Bradberry (Pleasant Grove, Samford) started at cornerback for the Eagles. Bradberry made two tackles, including one behind the line of scrimmage.
· Eagles defensive tackle Anthony Rush is on the practice squad and not eligible to play.
· Quez Watkins (Athens) started at wide receiver for the Eagles. Watkins caught three passes for 35 yards and one touchdown. Watkins scored for the second straight game when he caught a 30-yard touchdown pass with 13 seconds left in the first half as Philadelphia took a 27-20 lead.
In the other Sunday games:
Carolina Panthers 23, Denver Broncos 10
· Panthers running back Spencer Brown (Mortimer Jordan, UAB) is on the practice squad and not eligible to play.
· Panthers cornerback Tae Hayes (Decatur) played but did not record any stats
· Broncos punter Corliss Waitman (South Alabama) had an average of 52.4 yards on seven punts, with a 46.1-yard net. Waitman had a 51-yard punt returned 21 yards to the Denver 41-yard line, a 58-yarder returned 8 yards to the Carolina 29, a 37-yarder recovered by Denver at the Carolina 27 after a muff, a 53-yarder for a fair catch at the Carolina 17, a 48-yarder returned 9 yards to the Carolina 28, a 56-yarder returned 6 yards to the Carolina 15 and a 57-yarder downed at the Carolina 25. Waitman posted the third highest-average of any player with at least seven punts in a game in Denver history.
· Montrell Washington (Samford) started at wide receiver for the Broncos. Washington had a 1-yard run, a reception that lost 3 yards and two kickoff returns for 48 yards.
Cleveland Browns 23, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17 (OT)
· Chris Hubbard (UAB) made his first start of the season as a sixth offensive lineman.
· Rakeem Nunez-Roches (Central-Phenix City) started at defensive end for the Buccaneers. Nunez-Roches made four tackles, including his second sack of the season.
· Browns wide receiver Chester Rogers (Lee-Huntsville) is on the practice squad and not eligible to play.
· Buccaneers safety Nolan Turner (Vestavia Hills) was designated as a game-day inactive.
· Browns defensive end Alex Wright (Elba, UAB) broke up a pass.
Jacksonville Jaguars 28, Baltimore Ravens 27
· Josh Allen (Abbeville) started at weakside linebacker for the Jaguars. Allen made five tackles, including one behind the line of scrimmage.
· Ravens outside linebacker Jeremiah Moon (Hoover) is on the practice squad and not eligible to play.
· Ravens defensive tackle Michael Pierce (Daphne, Samford) is on injured reserve and not eligible to play.
· Jaguars tight end Gerrit Prince (UAB) is on the practice squad and not eligible to play.
· Jaguars defensive end/outside linebacker Jordan Smith (UAB) is on injured reserve and not eligible to play.
· Darious Williams (UAB) started at cornerback for the Jaguars. Williams made three tackles.
· Jaguars center Darryl Williams (Bessemer City) is on the practice squad and not eligible to play.
Miami Dolphins 30, Houston Texans 15
· Texans defensive end Mario Addison (Tarrant, Troy) made two tackles and recorded one sack. Addison’s first sack of the season was the 68th of his career.
· Nico Collins (Clay-Chalkville) started at wide receiver for the Texans. Collins caught six passes for 44 yards.
· Dolphins outside linebacker Trey Flowers (Columbia) is on injured reserve and not eligible to play.
· Tyreek Hill (West Alabama) started at wide receiver for the Dolphins. Hill caught six passes for 85 yards and had a 5-yard run.
· Tytus Howard (Monroe County, Alabama State) started at right offensive tackle for the Texans.
· Dolphins running back LaMical Perine (Theodore) is on the practice squad and not eligible to play.
· Texans cornerback Tremon Smith (Saks) returned two punts for 43 yards and two kickoffs for 33 yards.
New York Jets 31, Chicago Bears 10
· Jets linebacker Kwon Alexander (Oxford) made four tackles and forced one fumble, which Chicago recovered.
· Bears fullback Khari Blasingame (Buckhorn) was targeted once but did not have a reception.
· Jets defensive end Bryce Huff (St. Paul’s Episcopal) recorded one sack to push his total for the season to 3.5.
· Bears wide receiver Velus Jones Jr. (Saraland) ran for 6 yards on two carries and made a tackle on special teams.
· Darnell Mooney (Gadsden City) started at wide receiver for the Bears. Mooney suffered an ankle injury that caused him to miss most of the game.
· Nicholas Morrow (Huntsville) started at linebacker for the Bears. Morrow made eight tackles, including one behind the line of scrimmage.
· Quincy Williams (Wenonah) started at linebacker for the Jets. Williams made five tackles, including one behind the line of scrimmage.
Cincinnati Bengals 20, Tennessee Titans 16
· Titans linebacker Zach Cunningham (Pinson Valley) is on injured reserve and not eligible to play.
· Bengals cornerback Allan George (Andalusia) is on the practice squad and not eligible to play.
· Titans center Ben Jones (Bibb County) was designated as a game-day inactive. Jones missed his second straight game because of a concussion after missing one game in the previous 10 seasons of his NFL career.
· Bengals kicker Evan McPherson (Fort Payne) made a 47-yard field goal with 11:30 left in the first half to tie the game at 3-3 and a 38-yard field goal with 2:35 left in the third quarter as Cincinnati took a 13-10 lead. McPherson also made two extra points.
· Titans linebacker Monty Rice (James Clemens) played but did not record any stats.
· Cam Taylor-Britt (Park Crossing) started at cornerback for the Bengals. Taylor-Britt made eight tackles and knocked the football away from Tennessee running back Derrick Henry, although the Titans recovered the fumble in the end zone for a touchdown.
Washington Commanders 19, Atlanta Falcons 13
· Bobby McCain (Oxford) started at free safety for the Commanders. McCain made two tackles.
· Commanders running back J.D. McKissic (Central-Phenix City) is on injured reserve and not eligible to play.
· Commanders safety Jeremy Reaves (South Alabama) made a tackle on special teams.
Los Angeles Chargers 25, Arizona Cardinals 24
· Chargers tight end Gerald Everett (UAB/South Alabama) had four receptions for 18 yards and scored the winning points when he caught a 2-point conversion pass with 15 seconds remaining in the game.
· Cardinals center Rodney Hudson (B.C. Rain) is on injured reserve and not eligible to play.
· Cardinals cornerback Christian Matthew (Samford) made a tackle on special teams.
· Cardinals offensive lineman Lachavious Simmons (Selma) is on the practice squad and not eligible to play.
Las Vegas Raiders 40, Seattle Seahawks 34 (OT)
· Raiders running back Ameer Abdullah (Homewood) ran three times for 16 yards and caught three passes for 39 yards and one touchdown. Abdullah scored his first touchdown of the 2022 season on an 18-yard reception as Las Vegas tied the scored at 7-7 with 9:24 left in the first quarter.
· Raiders defensive tackle Neil Farrell Jr. (Murphy) was designated as a game-day inactive.
· Mike Jackson (Spain Park) started at left cornerback for the Seahawks. Jackson reached a career high with eight tackles and broke up a pass. Jackson surpassed his previous best of seven tackles on Oct. 30 in a 27-13 victory over the New York Giants.
Kansas City Chiefs 26, Los Angeles Rams 10
· Rams offensive lineman Chandler Brewer (Florence) is on injured reserve and not eligible to play.
· Chiefs wide receiver Justyn Ross (Central-Phenix City) is on injured reserve and not eligible to play.
· Chiefs defensive tackle Taylor Stallworth (Murphy) made one tackle.
· Chiefs wide receiver Kadarius Toney (Blount) was designated as a game-day inactive. Toney was out with a hamstring injury.
San Francisco 49ers 13, New Orleans Saints 0
· Forty-Niners tight end Jordan Matthews (Madison Academy) is on injured reserve and not eligible to play.
· Forty-Niners defensive back Jimmie Ward (Davidson) made three tackles and broke up a pass.
· Saints quarterback Jameis Winston (Hueytown) dressed for the game but did not play.
Week 12 started on Thursday with three Thanksgiving games. The Buffalo Bills defeated the Detroit Lions 28-25, the Dallas Cowboys defeated the New York Giants 28-20 and the Minnesota Vikings defeated the New England Patriots 33-26.
Week 12 concludes on Monday, when the Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts square off at 7:15 p.m. CDT at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. ESPN and ESPN Deportes will televise the game.
Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at @AMarkG1.