NFL defensive stats are usually as sexy as a casting call from London's Ugly Models agency.
That holds true unless you are talking about Carolina Panthers' rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly who is putting up tacking numbers that are nothing short of gorgeous.
In his first NFL season Kuechly is leading the league in total tackles with 131 through Week 14.
Grounding the Falcons
In Week 14 the Carolina Panthers had their best game of the year, a 30-20 home win against NFC South rival Atlanta Falcons who came into their game against the Panthers with an 11-1 record. One of the biggest reasons for Carolina's win was the play of Luke Kuechly.
Kuechly recorded a career-high 16 tackles, including 11 solo, against the Falcons.
Luke had recorded double-digit tackles for six consecutive weeks between Weeks 5 and 11, but in the two games before Carolina faced Atlanta he had seemed to hit a rookie wall with eight tackles in Week 12 and nine in Week 13.
But Kuechly smashed right through the rookie wall with his dominant 16 tackles against Atlanta.
The League Leaders
Kuechly's huge game against the Falcons vaulted him atop the NFL's tackling leader board through Week 14:
1) 131 - Luck Kuechly, Carolina Panthers
2) 126 - Chad Greenway, Minnesota Vikings
3) 124 - Jerod May, New England Patriots
4) 119 - James Laurinatis, St. Louis Rams
5) 117 - Lavonte David, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Week 14 caused a relatively large swing among the league leaders in tackles. While Kuechly recorded 16 tackles on Sunday, Chad Greenway had just three against the Chicago Bears while Jerod Mayo notched a below-average seven tackles on Monday night against the Houston Texans.
Kuechly will finish the season with games against the San Diego Chargers, Oakland Raiders, and New Orleans Saints.
He faced New Orleans in Week 2 and recorded just five tackles while playing weakside linebacker while Jon Beason started at middle. Kuechly's tackle totals have surged since being moved to MLB when Beason was placed on the injured reserve list earlier this year.
For example, Kuechly recorded just five tackles when he faced Atlanta in Week 4. That total surged to 16 last week with Beason not on the field.
Luke Kuechly may very well end up leading the league in tackles in his rookie season.
Suddenly defensive stats are looking pretty sexy in Carolina.
Andrew Sweat is a die-hard Panthers fan. For more from this author, visit Andrew's archive or check out these articles: