In a move that should surprise no one, Justin Simmons was named the NFL’s Special Teams Player of the Week.
The rookie safety was the main catalyst (thanks to some outstanding blocking from Jared Crick) for a Broncos’ 25-23 comeback win against the Saints on Sunday.
Just as Saints’ kicker Wil Lutz lined up to kick what could have been a game-winning extra point following a touchdown, Simmons hurdled the long snapper, dove in front of the ball to block it so teammate Will Parks could scoop and run all the way back to the Saints end zone for two points.
It was the first time a team had won on a play like this since the two-point return rule was implemented before the 2015 season. Previously any blocked PAT or intercepted two-point conversion was a dead ball. It was just the third time such a play had even been done since the new rule.
Simmons, a rookie out of Boston College, has played extensive time on defense this season in a nickel and reserve safety role. This past week special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis actually worked with Simmons on the blocking play based on film they had watched.
Simmons, a former track star who had a 40-inch vertical at the Combine, said it still hasn’t quite hit him the magnitude of executing that play well and bringing a win for the Broncos.
This award marks the 26th time a Broncos player has earned the honor since it was created in 1993. Kicker Matt Prater was the last player to win the award back in 2013. Simmons joins former defensive end Shane Dronett as the last Broncos player to win the award after blocking the kick.
Although Darian Stewart would certainly have deserved winning the Defensive Player of the Week for his three takeaways in the Saints game, the NFL gave it to Chiefs’ Eric Berry for the safety’s pick-six in the fourth quarter to help rally Kansas City to a 20-17 win over the Panthers.
— Darian Stewart (@darianstewart26) November 16, 2016
Apparently Stewart needed a fourth.