This week's award goes to an underrated defender who made the key play in his team's upset win. He's followed by two more quality linebackers, a possible premature retiree, and the best damn cornerback (Twitterback?) in football.
Hunter Hillenmeyer(notes), LB, Chicago Bears -- It's been a down season for the Bears, but the team Jerry Angelo thought he put together finally showed up in Chicago's upset overtime win over Brett Favre(notes) and those other guys in the purple uniforms (I think that's a direct quote from the Jaws/Gruden booth). Not only was Hillenmeyer all over the place, racking up a league-leading 13 solo tackles, but he caused the Adrian Peterson fumble that set the Bears up for their winning touchdown. It was a perfect angle and a great tackle -- a marquee moment for an under-the-radar player.
Aaron Schobel(notes), DE, Buffalo Bills -- Schobel is another player who has performed well with a disappointing team. The veteran abused Atlanta's line for three sacks and two forced fumbles in a 31-3 loss to the Falcons. Recent reports indicate that Schobel is so disappointed with Buffalo's constant rebuilding re-sets that he's contemplating retirement after this season. But would you want to retire if you were playing like this? At age 32, Schobel has put up his fourth 10-sack season and his first since 2006.
LaMarr Woodley(notes), LB, Pittsburgh Steelers -- Woodley was helped a great deal by Jared Gaither's(notes) foot injury. When the Baltimore Ravens' starting left tackle was replaced by usual right tackle Michael Oher(notes), that brought in reserve Oneil Cousins on the right side, and that was good news for Woodley. Cousins couldn't keep up, and Woodley picked up two sacks and a forced fumble against a Baltimore offensive line that showed several six-man fronts to make up for personnel shortfalls.
Brian Cushing(notes), LB, Houston Texans -- Cushing doesn't have quite the lock on the Defensive Rookie of the Year award that he used to, as former USC teammate Clay Matthews(notes) is stepping up his game to a ridiculous degree of late in Green Bay. Still, Cushing's nine-tackle game against the Miami Dolphins -- a performance that also included a sack, an interception, and a pass defenses -- proved once again that he is the most versatile rookie linebacker in the game.
Darrelle Revis(notes), CB, New York Jets -- Nobody did a better job of erasing Reggie Wayne(notes) from the stat sheet than Colts head coach Jim Caldwell last week. However, Revis did his usual shutdown of the elite receiver he was covering, limiting Wayne to three catches for 33 yards. Revis is now preparing to go up against Chad Ochocinco(notes) in the Jets' regular-season finale -- as expected, Revis and Ocho are already going at it in the Twitterverse:
Ocho's response: "@revis24-you saw the movie Public Enemies-that's how I'm gonna break out of Revis Island-I can't stay there ain't no damn McDonalds."
Revis: "lol. we only got room service. everyone tune in this week to the 24-85 show!!!"
Don't worry -- we will.