With only a week remaining until the end of the regular season, the NFL playoff race is at its most intense point of the season.
While some teams have clinched a spot or have been eliminated already, many others are battling for the remaining spots and trying to improve their standings. This past weekend’s action certainly did not disappoint, and there were several big games that came down to the wire.
Here is a look at how the former Illini players in the NFL fared in week 16.
Running Back Rashard Mendenhall
Mendenhall had a solid game but did not play much as the Steelers have already clinched a playoff spot and wanted to save their premier back.
In his limited play, Mendenhall ran for 86 yards and a touchdown and had two receptions for another 18 yards.
Linebacker Will Davis vs. Cornerback Alan Ball and Defensive Tackle Josh Brent
Davis is out for the season with a leg injury.
Ball only had one tackle for the contest, but Arizona did not pass the ball much, recording less than 180 passing yards the entire game.
The Cardinals won thanks to two key interceptions that were returned for touchdowns.
Brent was out for the game with a sprained ankle but is expected to be able to play next week.
Offensive Tackle Tony Pashos
Pashos is out for the season with an injury.
Without Pashos, the Cleveland offensive line struggled against a tough Ravens defensive line.
The Browns only managed 102 yards rushing.
However, the Cleveland line did not give up a sack the entire contest.
Tight End Michael Hoomanawanui and Linebacker Brit Miller
Hoomanawanui did not play due to an injury, and Miller, who plays on special teams only, did not record a tackle.
Cornerback Vontae Davis
Davis had two tackles and a broken-up pass for Miami, but the Dolphins threw a pick-six late in the game to finish with a home record of 1-7.
Punter Steve Weatherford, Offensive Lineman Brandon Moore and Tight End Jeff Cumberland
Weatherford had three of his four punts downed inside the 20, including one that went for 50 yards.
Moore and the rest of the offensive line did a solid job protecting quarterback Mark Sanchez, who was not sacked all game.
Cumberland is a backup and still has not played this season.
Wide Receiver Brandon Lloyd vs. Neil Rackers and Eugene Wilson
Lloyd seems to excel no matter who the Denver quarterback is.
Having led the league thus far in receiving yards this season, he racked up another 111 with new quarterback Tim Tebow taking over for Kyle Orton.
Rackers made three field goals and two PATs as Houston fell just short.
Wilson did not appear in the box score.
Cornerback Kelvin Hayden
Hayden did not record any stats in the Colts win against the Raiders.
Wide Receiver Arrelious “Rejus” Benn
Benn is out for the final two games with a torn ACL.
It is a shame to see Benn, along with so many other former Illini, sidelined by injury as he has steadily improved all season and was really coming into his own in the Bucs’ offense.
Running Back Pierre Thomas and Linebacker Danny Clark
Thomas rushed for 61 yards and a touchdown and caught 7 passes for another 39 yards.
However, he re-aggravated an ankle injury from earlier in the season and is likely to miss the Saints’ regular season finale against the Buccaneers.
Clark did not record any stats against the Falcons.
Wide Receiver Greg Lewis
Lewis did not have any receptions in the Vikings upset of the Eagles.
That’s all for this weeks Pigskins.
Until next week.
Topics: Alan Ball, Arrelious "Rejus" Benn, Arrelious Benn, Brandon Lloyd, Brandon Moore, Brit Miller, Danny Clark, Greg Lewis, Illini, Illinois, Jeff Cumberland, Josh Brent, Kelvin Hayden, Michael Hoomanawanui, Neil Rackers, NFL, Pierre Thomas, Rashard Mendenhall, Steve Weatherford, Tony Pashos, Vontae Davis, Will Davis