When I spoke after the early Sunday afternoon games with both Bucs quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and Vikings safety Harrison Smith, I believed I was speaking to the NFC offensive and defensive players of the week, respectively. Then came Sunday night.
Apparently, however, whoever it is that determines the top players of the week likes guys who play both halves of the game.
That’s the only reason to explain the snubbing of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Bears linebacker Khalil Mack for awards that went to Fitzpatrick and Smith. In the first half of the Sunday night game, Mack redefined the term “dominant,” with a performance that included a pick-six and a Hollywood Henderson-style robbery of the ball from quarterback DeShone Kizer.
The second half then became the Aaron Rodgers show, with one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time authoring one of his greatest performances of all time.
Fitzpatrick and Smith also had dominant games, and maybe it’s refreshing that the size of the stage on which the prime-time performances occur won’t tip the scales away from the guys who get it done in the afternoon. But for as much as it felt like a foregone conclusion before Sunday night’s game that Fitzpatrick and Smith would be securing the distinction for Week One, it felt like Rodgers and Mack had eclipsed both of them on Sunday night.