Las Vegas Raiders linebacker Robert Spillane was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week for Week 10 following his outstanding performance on Sunday night against the New York Jets.
Spillane was excellent on the night, finishing the game with seven total tackles, one for loss, and a pass defensed. But it was his clutch interception late in the fourth quarter that basically sealed the deal on the win for the Raiders, and definitely on him receiving this honor.
With the Jets driving to take the lead with under two minutes remaining and in the red zone, quarterback Zach Wilson looked to hit Braxton Berrios in the middle of the field. But Spillane read it the whole way, jumping in front of the receiver for the interception and returning it 25 yards.
After the contest interim head coach Antonio Pierce praised Spillane as a ‘lunch pail guy’ who just loves the game of football, via Levi Edwards of Raiders.com:
“[Y]ou have your superstars in the Maxx Crosby’s of the world, but then you have that lunch pail guy and this guy just loves ball, man,” Interim Head Coach Antonio Pierce said of Spillane. “You can see it on his face. You can see the energy and excitement he brings to our team and just again, when we talk about the will to win and just being gritty.”
Spillane has been one of the unsung heroes of the Raiders this season. Most of the attention, and rightfully so, goes towards superstar Maxx Crosby who continues to prove himself as one of the best defensive ends in the league. But Spillane has been excellent this season and deserves his recognition as well.
His three interceptions not only lead the Raiders but is also tied for the league-high amongst linebackers with San Francisco 49ers star Fred Warner, considered by most to be the best middle linebacker in football. Additionally, Spillane’s 81 total tackles lead the Raiders and he has just one game in which he recorded less than seven total tackles.
Coming into this season the concern for the Raiders defense was that they had little impact players who could make plays aside from Crosby, but that has not been the case. This is Spillane’s first chance to be a full-time starter after spending the last four seasons in Pittsburgh and he is taking full advantage. Hopefully, this is the first of many honors for the emerging young player.