“Splash plays” are at the center of this week’s HBCU NFL Report.
What Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and just about any football coach refers to as ‘splash plays’ are big plays that many times are keys to winning.
These plays change momentum or turn around games, breathe life and energy into a team. They are sudden, game-changing plays.
Here’s an old list of ‘splash plays’ tweeted from one keen NFL observer, Sam Sturm (@SportSturm).
Sturm’s list doesn’t include kick return TDs (punt or kickoff), long running or passing TDs, interceptions, blocked kicks, fumble return TDs, etc. The list of ‘splash plays’ could be endless.
HBCU NFL Report: Hamilton, Williams make splashes
Seven-year NFL veteran Antonio Hamilton of Arizona out of South Carolina State made a ‘splash’ vs. New Orleans Thursday. It was in only his second game back from a preseason burn incident that caused him to miss the Cardinals’ first five games.
Hamilton has been primarily used as a special teams ace in his seven-year NFL career. But he got his first career interception on an end zone pick of New Orleans quarterback Andy Dalton Thursday night. It came during the Cards’ 42-34 win over the Saints. See the interception here.
The second quarter interception and touchback came with Arizona trailing 7-3. It led to a 28-yard field goal by Rodrigo Blankenship that pulled the Cards to within 7-6. Hamilton ended up tying for the team high with six tackles, all solos, on the evening.
Hamilton’s bigger story
The bigger story to Hamilton’s interception is his comeback from the burn incident in his home in the preseason. Hamilton was frying shrimp in his home a week before the NFL season started. That’s when, in a freak accident, he spilled hot oil on his lower body. He suffered second degree burns on his thighs and feet. Hamilton initially thought the incident would end his career.
The accident was particularly challenging because Hamilton had the best preseason of his career. He was slated to be a starter in the Cardinals’ backfield once the season started.
The recovery, with the indispensable aid of his then seven-month’s pregnant wife Tiara, has been challenging but remarkable. He graciously handed the ball from the interception to Tiara. His wife was in the stands for Thursday night’s game vs. New Orleans.
HBCU NFL Report: Joshua Williams
There is no bigger ‘splash’ than a rookie making one of the key plays mentioned.
Kansas City rookie defensive back Joshua Williams was the first HBCU player taken in the 2022 NFL Draft. He went to the Chiefts in the fourth round out of Fayetteville State. Fellow rookie Cobie Durant of the LA Rams out of SC State made a similar splash with his first career interception earlier in the season vs. Atlanta.
Williams got his first NFL interception, but unlike Hamilton, it didn’t take him seven years to do it. It came as the Chiefs moved to 5-2 with a 44-23 win over San Francisco. See the Williams interception here.
Williams, who has played the majority of the snaps for the Chiefs at left cornerback over the last two games, picked off a pass from San Francisco QB Jimmy Garoppolo at the goal line. Williams pilfered the second quarter pass intended for tight end George Kittles and returned it six yards.
The pick was particularly pleasing for Williams who was beaten twice for touchdowns a week earlier in the Chiefs’ loss to the Buffalo Bills. Williams also gave up a TD pass in the San Francisco game, but says he’s learning and growing while still making mistakes. The video of his postgame interview is here.
HBCU NFL Report: Grover Stewart
With Indianapolis all-pro linebacker Shaquille Leonard out of South Carolina State missing his sixth game, it has been necessary for other Colts on the defensive side of the ball to step up their play.
That’s exactly what Grover Stewart, the Colts’ sixth-year defensive tackle out of Albany State, has done. In the Colts’ 19-10 loss to Tennessee Sunday, Stewart posted a career-high 12 tackles to lead Indy. Seven of his stops were of the solo variety. Stewart logged 75 percent of the Colts’ defensive plays.
HBCU NFL PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
For game of Oct. 20-24, 2022
– #33 ANTONIO HAMILTON, DB, Arizona (7th season, SOUTH CAROLINA STATE) – In 42-34 win over New Orleans Thursday, Hamilton tied for the team lead with six tackles, all solos, got his first interception as a professional and defended two passes. He was in on 35 plays on defense (49%) and 19 on special teams (59%).
– #23 JOSHUA WILLIAMS, DB, Kansas City (1st season, FAYETTEVILLE STATE) – In 44-23 win over San Francisco, Williams had one solo tackle, an interception at the goal line, and three passes defended. It was the first interception of his young career. He was in on 63 defensive snaps (80%) and eight (29%) snaps on special teams.
– #90 GROVER STEWART, DT, Indianapolis (6th season, ALBANY STATE) – In 19-10 loss to Tennessee, Stewart led the Colts with 12 total tackles, seven solos. Stewart played 44 downs on defense (75%) and seven on special teams (29%).
– #72 TERRON ARMSTEAD, LT, Miami (10th season, ARKANSAS-PINE BLUFF) – Started at left tackle in Dolphins’ 16-10 win over Pittsburgh. Miami rushed for 111 yards and passed for 261 and one TD. Armstead was in on 62 plays on offense (100%).
– #6 JAMIE GILLAN, P, New York Giants (5th season, ARKANSAS-PINE BLUFF) – In 23-17 win over Jacksonville, Gillan punted twice for 80 yards (40.0 yard average) with a net of 30.0 yards per punt. He had a long punt of 46 yards with one touchback. Gillan was in on seven plays on special teams (32%).
OTHER TOP PERFORMANCES
#71 TYTUS HOWARD, OT, Houston (4th season, ALABAMA STATE – In 38-20 loss to Las Vegas, Howard started at left tackle as Texans ran for 108 yards and passed for 302 yards and two TDs while giving up one sack. Howard was in on 64 plays on offense (98%) and five on special teams (8%).
– #60 NICK LEVERETT, OL, Tampa Bay (2nd season, NORTH CAROLINA CENTRAL) – In 21-3 loss to Carolina, Leverett was in on 20 offensive plays (30%).–
– #78 TRENT SCOTT, OT, Pittsburgh (5th season, GRAMBLING STATE) – In 16-10 loss to Miami, Scott did not play.
– #47 DE’SHAAN DIXON, DE, Jacksonville (1st season, NORFOLK STATE) – In 23-17 loss to the NY Giants, Dixon had one assisted tackle. He played in two plays on defense (3%) and 11 on special teams (50%).
– #45 JOE THOMAS, LB, Chicago (8th season, SOUTH CAROLINA STATE) – In 33-14 win over New England, Thomas had one assisted tackle on special teams while playing ?? snaps on defense and ?? on special teams.
– #56 QUINTON BELL, OLB, Atlanta (2nd year, PRAIRIE VIEW A&M) – Was not active in 35-17 loss to Cincinnati.
– #53 SHAQUILLE LEONARD, LB, Indianapolis (5th season, SOUTH CAROLINA STATE) – Leonard was not active in 19-10 loss to Tennessee.
– #41 MARKQUESE BELL, DB, Dallas (1st season, FLORIDA A&M) – Bell was not active in Cowboys 24-6 win over Detroit.
– #12 KHADAREL HODGE, WR, Atlanta (5th season, PRAIRIE VIEW A&M) – In 35-17 loss to Cincinnati, Hodge had two special teams’ tackles. He was in on two plays on offense (4%) and 15 on special teams (60%).