Michael Huff has taken a lot of criticism in his four-plus years as former first round defensive back. After forcing the fumble that sealed the Raiders’ first victory against the San Diego Chargers in 14 attempts, he’s received plenty of accolades this week — the most he’s had since he was an All American at Texas.
Along with being the impetus of the NFL Network ranking the Tyvon Branch fumble return the top play of week 5, Huff was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week. It only took him four years and five weeks to achieve that accomplishment, and now he’s ready to do it again this Sunday.
“It feels good,” said Huff about how it feels to be chosen for the award. “Long time coming. Hopefully I can back-door it and do it again next week.”
The award hasn’t come with just applause. Huff has been dealing with a little good-natured ribbing from his fellow secondary mates. It’s only strengthened his resolve to do it again. “I’ve been hearing it all week, from Nnam [Asomugha] and Tyvon [Branch] and everybody, but when I get it again this week, I’m sure they’ll give me a hard time again.“
Getting that final big play didn’t come easy. The Raiders blitzed more on that series than they have in most games, and it began to take it’s toll. “I was tired,” said the free safety to a few chuckles. “I blitzed like five times in a row. I wasn’t used to it. I need to go out and run a little bit more.”
While it’s likely the defense doesn’t mind blitzing, Huff did say that it came as a pleasant surprise. “Definitely, [blitzing] that many times in a row, especially when we hadn’t blitzed much and to call it four or five times in a row was definitely different.”
Another byproduct of the play may have had a major affect on the entire team. Even though things were getting a little bleak when the Chargers had driven into field goal range, Huff’s quick burst to the quarterback enabled the Raiders to find a way to win. That could turn into all the proof the Raiders need that you have to never give up.
“Definitely, because you never know when that one play is going to happen, who it’s going to come from or what it’s going to take to make that play. If CJ [Chris Johnson] would have gave up on the play, then Tyvon [Branch] wouldn’t have been able to pick up the ball. So many things go into a big play. A lot of people don’t see everything that happens. You never know when that play will be.”
Huff admitted that the offense taking the lead late in the game helped to inspire the defense on the critical Chargers drive that ended in the big play. “We’re just one big family,” said Huff. “Special teams started the game off big for us. We knew they did their part, so it was up to the defense to do our part at the end.”
In order for Huff to get another Defensive Player of the Week award, he’s going to have to go across the bay and do what he accomplished in front of a home crowd. It’ll help that there is little home field advantage when the visiting team is traveling a few miles, along with their fans.
Even so, Huff knows that quieting down the home fans is just as important as if he was traveling 2,000 miles for the game. “Oh, I think it’s gonna’ be big [to quiet the 49ers fans],” said Huff. “Especially anytime you have Battle of the Bay. We have our fans there, and they’ll have their fans there, but obviously our fans are the best fans in the world. But as long as we can shut them up and keep them quiet, we’ll be fine.”