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Tar Heels in the NFL: Week 12 Recap

A look at some of the noteworthy performances from former Tar Heels during week 12 of the NFL regular season.

NFL: Chicago Bears at Philadelphia Eagles James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

As the North Carolina Tar Heels’ football season came to an end this past Saturday, a number of fans have turned their attention to cheering on former UNC alumni on their respective NFL teams. A number of former Tar Heels made significant contributions on defense and special teams, while it was a relatively quiet Sunday for many of those players on the offensive side of the ball.

Let’s take a look at the stats from some former UNC football players in this week’s NFL recap.

Gio Bernard and Russell Bodine (Cincinnati)

With the Cleveland Browns heading to Cincinnati, it figured to be a perfect opportunity for the Bengals’ offense to break out, and they didn’t disappoint with putting up 30 points on the Browns’ defense.

Bernard didn’t factor into too much of the offensive production, as Joe Mixon got a majority of the work at running back; however, Bernard did finish with three rushes for 12 yards and had one catch for 15 yards (only saw 15 plays on offense). Bodine started and played center the entire game for the Bengals. Along with his offensive line, Bodine allowed only one sack on Sunday.

Tre Boston (Los Angeles Chargers), Ryan Switzer and Jonathan Cooper (Dallas)

Boston and the Chargers made their way to Dallas for a Thanksgiving showdown, and came away with a nearly flawless defensive performance against the struggling Cowboys. Los Angeles held Dallas scoreless for three quarters before giving up only six points in the 4th quarter. The Chargers allowed only 247 total yards of offense to the Cowboys. Boston had four tackles (2 solo, 2 asst.) in the game, as the starting free safety for L.A.

On the other side of the field, Switzer only had one carry for the Cowboys. Much like the rest of the Dallas offense, he went backwards for -4 yards in his only run of the game. However, he was much more effective in the return game with 102 kickoff return yards on four returns. His long run of the game was for 33 yards. Switzer is currently 4th in the NFL in both total kickoff return yards (469) and yards per return (26.1).

Cooper started and played the entire game at left guard for Dallas.

Zach Brown (Washington)

In another Thanksgiving showdown, this time between two division opponents, Brown’s Washington team got the better of Eli Manning’s New York Giants. The 20-10 victory for Washington keeps them in the playoff race with a 5-6 record.

Brown, one of the leading tacklers in the NFL, led his team with nine total tackles (6 solo, 3 asst.) last Thursday. Also, they only allowed 170 total yards to the Giants.

Eric Ebron (Detroit)

Another Tar Heel alum had the opportunity to play on Thanksgiving, as Ebron and the Lions hosted the red hot Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings got off to a quick start and led 13-0 after the first quarter. Matthew Stafford and the Detroit offense would finally wake up, but it was too late, as the Lions fell 30-23 to Minnesota.

Ebron had four catches for 34 yards, but it was Marvin Jones who provided much of the offense (6 catches for 109 yards and 2 touchdowns) for Detroit in the loss.

Mack Hollins (Philadelphia) and Mitch Trubisky (Chicago)

Another one of the red hot teams in the NFC are the Philadelphia Eagles. They continued their winning ways with a 31-3 lop-sided victory over the Bears. Hollins only had two catches for 12 yards, but he did play in close to 50% of the snaps on offense, as he continues to get more comfortable in Doug Pederson’s system. The win improved the Eagles’ record to a NFL-leading 10-1 on the season.

It was a completely different story for Hollins’ former teammate, Trubisky, as the Bears continued to struggle on offense. Trubisky had one of his worst performances of the season, going only 17-33 with 147 passing yards. Also, he was sacked two times, fumbled two times, and was intercepted two times.

Hollins had plenty to smile about in this picture with his former teammate.

Julius Peppers (Carolina)

For a player who is about to turn 38, it is amazing to witness what Peppers continues to do in his 16th NFL season. He added to his career sack total with another one on Sunday against the New York Jets. It is his 8.5 sack of the season, which puts him with the 15th highest total in the league. That is impressive because he has not started in a single game and plays roughly just half of the snaps on defense. In the victory, Peppers also had three total tackles (1 solo, 2 asst.).

Robert Quinn (Los Angeles Rams)

In a match-up between two of the best teams in the NFC and two of the best offenses, it was Quinn and the Rams who came away with the surprising 26-20 home victory over New Orleans. Giving up only 20 points and 346 total yards to a Saints’ team that had been running on all cylinders the last few weeks was an impressive feat for the Los Angeles defense.

Quinn had a big game for the Rams’ defense and the best performance of the weekend by any former Tar Heel, as he finished the game with one sack, one forced fumble, and five total tackles (3 solo, 2 asst.).

Da’Norris Searcy and Sylvester Williams (Tennessee)

The Titans defeated the Indianapolis Colts on the road Sunday 20-16. Tennessee improved their record to 7-4 on the season. Searcy (2 solo) and Williams (1 solo, 1 asst.) each had two total tackles (2 solo) for the Titans’ defense.

Brandon Tate (Buffalo)

With Tyrod Taylor back under center, Buffalo earned the 16-10 victory over a free-falling Kansas City Chiefs team. Tate didn’t contribute on offense for the Bills, but he did have six punt returns for 61 yards in the game.