OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Kevin Smith / RB / Detroit Lions
Two Sundays ago, Smith wasn't even on an NFL roster. In Week 11, Smith rushed for a career-high 140 yards in the Lions' 49-35 comeback victory. Smith, who gained 976 rushing yards for Detroit as a rookie in 2008, had his career slowed by injuries. The Lions signed him on Nov. 7 and he returned to have the game of his life. Smith's 140 rushing yards came on 16 carries (8.8-yard average), and he added two touchdowns. He also had four catches for 61 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown catch. "Credit to Kevin, he never lost faith, he persevered," head coach Jim Schwartz said. "His talent never went away, and when he was able to get healthy and get another opportunity, he took advantage of it. I think it's a great story." A rushing attack has eluded the Lions since Jahvid Best got hurt, but Smith could be the answer.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Von Miller / OLB / Denver Broncos
It has been clear that Miller is the leading candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year, but he is also making a case to be an All-Pro player in his first season. In a 17-13 win over the Jets on Thursday night, Miller led the team with 10 tackles, 1½ sacks, three tackles for loss and four QB hits. He added a pass defensed and a forced fumble in another stellar defensive effort, making life miserable for Jets QB Mark Sanchez and New York's offensive tackles. Miller leads all rookies with 9½ sacks. "He's got a lot of God-given abilities that it takes to be able to do what he does," head coach John Fox said. Led by Miller, Denver's defense forced five three-and-outs. "We just wanted to play solid defense," Miller said. "It's the same formula that we've had every week." Thanks to Miller, the Broncos are one game out of the lead in the AFC West.
SPECIAL-TEAMS PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Jon Ryan / P / Seattle Seahawks
In a game in which the Seahawks suffocated the Rams' offense, Ryan came up huge. Ryan had nine punts for 447 yards, good for an average of 49.7 yards a punt. If you ignore a 30-yard punt that was partially blocked, Ryan averaged 52.1 yards per punt. He boomed a 71-yard punt at the beginning of the fourth quarter, and the Rams went three-and-out on their ensuing drive. That 71-yarder was Ryan's only touchback of his nine punts and is tied for the second-longest punt in the NFL this season. Four of Ryan's punts landed inside the 20, and he had a net average of 44.9 yards, as Rams WR Austin Pettis' longest punt return was nine yards out of the three punts he fielded. Ryan allowed the Seahawks to continually win the field-position battle en route to a 24-7 win over their division foes.