Nittany Lions In The NFL: Week 17 Recap

Although Penn State fans were treated to a grueling Outback Bowl on Saturday, a handful of Nittany Lions in the NFL gave them something to smile about on Sunday.

From a 100-yard-rushing game for Saquon Barkley to yet another disruptive effort for rookie Micah Parsons, here’s how Penn State’s NFL stars performed in the penultimate week of the regular season.

Saquon Barkley, New York Giants

In his first game at Chicago’s Soldier Field since tearing his ACL there last year, Saquon Barkley had his most productive running game of the season. The former No. 2 overall draft pick picked up 102 yards on 21 attempts, compiling an average of 4.9 yards a carry.

Despite Barkley’s efforts, the Giants fell to the Bears 29-3, picking up their 12th loss of the year. After the game, Barkley made it clear that he would not sit out of the final game of the season despite his team’s abysmal outlook and his shaky health.

Micah Parsons, Dallas Cowboys

Linebacker Micah Parsons was not able to bring down the speedy Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray for any sacks on Sunday. However, the Pro Bowl-bound rookie was his usual disruptive self by recording a handful of QB pressures and adding five tackles to his season total of 84.

The “LBU” product fell from the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year betting favorite position, but Parsons will have one final chance next week against the Philadelphia Eagles to bolster his case.

Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins

In the Dolphins’ 34-3 loss to the Tennessee Titans, tight end Mike Gesicki was good for four catches and 51 yards, as well as a single incomplete passing attempt that came off a bizarre trick play.

Gesicki now has 71 receptions, 758 yards, and two touchdowns on the season. His reception total is the league’s fourth-most among tight ends.

Pat Freiermuth, Pittsburgh Steelers

In what was likely future Hall of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s final game at Heinz Field, tight end Pat Freiermuth served as something of a security blanket. Catching five of his six targets, Freiermuth posted 22 receiving yards en route to a 26-14 victory over the Cleveland Browns.

With 54 receptions on the season, Freiermuth now possesses the Steelers’ franchise record for most catches by a rookie tight end.

Blake Gillikin, New Orleans Saints

Another week brought another busy game for Saints punter Blake Gillikin. Penn State’s former Flow Bro punted the ball five times in New Orleans’ 18-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers. His five punts traveled a combined 215 yards, including one that sailed for 63 yards, a season-high for Gillikin.

Punting 81 times so far this season, Gillikin has the second most punts in the league, with a fourth-most 28 landing inside the 20-yard line.

Allen Robinson, Chicago Bears

Wide receiver Allen Robinson’s underwhelming season persisted Sunday, even despite his team’s comfortable 29-3 blowout against the Giants. Robinson tied his highest catch total since week one, catching four passes for 35 yards.

In a contract year, Robinson has accumulated just 36 receptions, 388 yards, and a lone touchdown catch. After an offseason characterized by a weak relationship with the Bears’ front office, performances like these seem to indicate Robinson’s tenure in Chicago is almost finished.

Other Notables:

  • In his team’s victory Sunday, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Marcus Allen recorded five tackles, one more than his combined season total entering the week’s contest.
  • New York Giants defensive lineman Austin Johnson similarly recorded five tackles in his team’s defeat. Johnson also picked up a QB hit on Chicago’s Andy Dalton.
  • Robbie Gould converted every kick he attempted for the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. Three field goals and two extra points gave Gould 11 of his team’s 23 points in their win against the Houston Texans.
  • The Carolina Panthers’ Yetur Gross Matos, the Green Bay Packers’ Adrian Amos, and the Los Angeles Rams’ Nick Scott all secured four tackles for their respective teams on Sunday. All but the Panthers ended the weekend with a victory.

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About the Author

Sam Fremin

Sam is a senior from Ashburn, Virginia, majoring in journalism and political science & minoring in German and creative writing. He is a Dallas Cowboys fan who relishes the misery of Eagles fans. All hate messages can be sent to [email protected] or @SamFremin on Twitter.

He may or may not read every single comment he gets.

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