Nigeria’s Bobby Okereke ends New York Giants’ NFL season on a high


Nigeria’s Bobby Okereke ends New York Giants’ NFL season on a high

Bobby Okereke and Azeez Ojulari – two players of Nigerian descent – starred for the New York Giants as they closed out their season with a party-spoiling 27-10 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.


There were crucial moments at the end of the regular season for other African players, including the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ YaYa Diaby, the Detroit Lions’ Levi Onwuzurike and the Kansas City Chiefs’ Charles Omenihu.


Overall, it was not the most eventful week for Africa’s NFL stars, with many likely preserving themselves ahead of the postseason, but where they did produce key snaps, those passages of play were among the most impactful of the season.


African player of the week: Bobby Okereke (New York Giants)

Not all of Okereke’s energy on defense in the Giants’ win over the Eagles reflects on the stats sheet, but the livewire linebacker made it incredibly difficult for the Eagles offense to function.


With eight tackles, a second quarter sack on Jalen Hurts and a tipped pass, Okereke summed up a season which has seen him transform from being a highly questioned signing to a fan favorite at MetLife Stadium.


The New York Giants may not have reached the postseason, but Bobby Okerek had a successful season and became a fan favourite at MetLife. Al Bello/Getty Images

Ojulari also played a key role in the Giants’ win with two sacks and a fumble recovery. The race for the African Player of the Week title ultimately came down to the two sons of Nigerian immigrants, but Okereke won only because of the sheer relentlessness of his performance over a sustained period in the game – a clear statement that he is a player with a point to prove after his Pro Bowl snub.


Both Hurts and Marcus Mariota tried in vain to orchestrate pathways through the defense led by the Nigerian duo, but the quarterbacks’ stats tell a story of how difficult Okereke, Ojulari and co made it for the Eagles.


Hurts threw 7/16 for 55 yards, no touchdowns and an interception, while Mariota fared only marginally better with 13/20 for 148 passing yards, a touchdown and an interception. Mariota got 46 rushing yards and Hurts 4.


African moment of the week: YaYa Diaby (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

For a franchise in reconstruction such as the New York Giants, a win over the Eagles can be important for morale despite the absence of a postseason reward, but not as important as a win which clinches a division title.


The reason Diaby won Moment of the Week over the Giants duo is because his sack on Bryce Young came in a game in which the Buccaneers did just that – wrapping up the NFC South despite the New Orleans Saints’ huge 48-17 win over the Atlanta Falcons.


Diaby stopped the Panthers’ opening series with an eight-yard sack to set the tone for the game, which the Bucs won 9-0.


In a superb rookie season after being drafted 82nd overall out of Louisville, the linebacker of Guinean heritage got 7.5 regular season sacks. His role has grown throughout the course of the campaign and the Buccaneers will need every bit of help he can offer in the wild card clash against the Eagles.

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