As the 2021 regular season inches closer toward a conclusion, the Cincinnati Bengals and Dallas Cowboys have the playoffs in their sights after big wins in Week 16. Their star quarterbacks put up extraordinary numbers in the process of bringing clarity to their postseason hopes.
Joe Burrow broke a franchise record in the Bengals' crucial home win over a division rival to take first place in the NFC North, while Dak Prescott cemented the Cowboys' claim of the NFC East with a blowout win over a divisional foe.
On Wednesday morning, Burrow and Prescott were recognized for their efforts as NFL Players of the Week.
Burrow took AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors with a remarkable 525 passing yards in the Bengals' 41-21 win over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. Breaking Boomer Esiason's franchise record for passing yards in a game, Burrow completed 37 of 46 passes with four touchdowns and no interceptions for a 143.2 QB rating. Only three QBs in NFL history have thrown for more yards in a game than Burrow in Week 16.
The NFC's Offensive Player of the Week, Prescott completed 28 of 39 passes for 330 yards with four TDs and no INTs in the Cowboys' 56-14 romp of the Washington Football Team on Sunday. Prescott found nine different Cowboys receivers and helped set the franchise record in first-half points with 42. Although the Cowboys had already clinched the NFC East in the hours leading up to Sunday night's blowout, Prescott gave the Dallas crowd a night to remember.
On the other side of the ball, two defenders were recognized for a pair of game-sealing interceptions.
Cornerback Tavierre Thomas takes home AFC Defensive Player of the Week after wrapping a bow on the Houston Texans' 41-29 win over the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday. Thomas' 48-yard pick-six of Chargers QB Justin Herbert within the final two minutes of play sealed the upset, and the four-year veteran added eight tackles and one pass defensed to his day before scoring his first NFL touchdown.
Atlanta Falcons linebacker Foye Oluokun earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week recognition with a game-winning INT. With the Detroit Lions in the red zone with seconds remaining in the game, Oluokun jumped in front of a Jared Goff pass to seal a 20-16 victory. The Yale graduate also had some eye-opening numbers on the stat sheet with a game-high 14 tackles (one tackle for loss) and one pass defensed.
Special teams were just that in Week 16 with two returners getting a nod for finding the end zone to break franchise cold streaks.
Jets return man Braxton Berrios earned AFC Special Teams Player of the Week with a 102-yard kickoff return TD in the second quarter of New York's 26-21 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. Berrios, who totaled 150 return yards on the day, was the first Jets player to score on a kickoff return since 2018.
Rams wideout Brandon Powell scored just the second punt return TD of the 2021 season to earn NFC Special Teams Player of the Week. Powell's 61-yard TD return in the third quarter helped lift L.A. over the Minnesota Vikings, 30-23. Powell's TD was the first score of its kind by a Rams player dating back to 2015.