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BYU Alums in the NFL: Week 11 Recap

Taysom Hill wasn’t the only star shining for BYU in the NFL as a few former Cougars made big plays on defense.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Week 11 was one of the biggest weekends of former BYU Cougars in the NFL in recent memory, perhaps of the last decade. It wasn’t just because the Cougars finally had another starting quarterback in the NFL as plenty of other former Cougs shined.

Taysom Hill, QB, New Orleans Saints

For the first time since 2011, a former BYU Cougar started a game at quarterback in the NFL. No one since John Beck with the Washington Football Team had done it. Hill took the reins after Drew Brees went down with several broken ribs and will miss a few weeks at least. Saints head coach Sean Payton defended his decision of choosing Hill over former Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston the entire week. Hill’s play on Sunday validated that decision.

Aside from a lost fumble, Hill played about as clean and crisp of a game as anyone could have asked for. He completed 78.3 percent of his throws for 233 yards and was the team’s leading rusher with 51 yards and two touchdowns. He finished with a 108.9 passer rating, which is much higher than average and also posted a 68.3 QBR per ESPN, which was better than the likes of Russell Wilson during Week 11. Most importantly, the Saints won handily against their division rival Falcons. Not bad for his first career start.

Sione Takitaki, LB, Cleveland Browns

If Hill didn’t get the start at quarterback for the Saints, the talk about BYU players in the NFL would be all about Takitaki. The Browns defeated the Eagles on Sunday much thanks to Takitaki’s efforts. He had a pedestrian three tackles, including one for a loss, but it was his pass defense that got everyone’s attention. Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz dropped back in a scoreless game in the second quarter and was pressured before letting a floating pass into the air before Takitaki aggressively sought after the ball, secured it and ran it 50 yards for a pick-six to give the Browns the lead. He is the third former Cougar to have a pick-six this season, after Michael Davis and Daniel Sorensen.

Daniel Sorensen, S, Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs were in a slugfest against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday Night Football. The two offenses went back and forth, exchanging blows. Sorensen was caught in the middle of it, trying to stop one of Derek Carr’s best days as a pro for the Raiders. In the process, he collected four tackles but most importantly, he nabbed the game-sealing interception for the second time this season. He picked off a deep Carr pass as the Raiders were trying to mount a game-winning score. That was his third pick of the season.

Harvey Langi, LB, New York Jets

Langi has clearly played himself into the good graces of the Jets’ coaching staff. After not playing a single snap on defense for six straight games, he has played in at least 93 percent of New York’s defensive snaps the last two games. In their game against the Chargers, Langi set a new career high with 11 total tackles including eight solo takedowns. The Chargers won 34-28 but Langi did himself wonders for his future in this game.

Jamaal Williams, RB, Green Bay Packers

Williams was back in action for the second straight week after coming off of the Reserve/COVID-19 list. The Packers struggled to hold off the Colts and eventually lost but Williams did his best to keep the Packers in the game. He ran the ball five times for 12 yards and had just one catch but that was a crucial one as it went for a four-yard touchdown right before the half, which gave Green Bay a 28-14 lead, which then evaporated in the second half. That was Williams’ eighth career receiving touchdown and first this season, notching his second touchdown from scrimmage this year.

Kyle Van Noy, LB, Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins finally lost a game as the Miami offense was off its rhythm. However, KVN was on his game on the defensive side against Drew Lock and the Denver Broncos. He racked up four tackles and hit Lock twice in the backfield. Van Noy has quietly had a very solid season with 42 tackles, 2.0 sacks, six quarterback hits, four passes defensed and two forced fumbles.

Michael Davis, CB, Los Angeles Chargers

Opposite of Langi’s Jets was Davis for the Chargers, He had a relatively quiet day in the Chargers’ win, with two tackles and a pass defensed.