Gators in the NFL

Two former Florida quarterbacks started for NFL teams on Sunday and led their teams to victory. However, it was an ex-Gator defensive back that continues to make a charge for the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.

The Cleveland Browns selected Joe Haden with the No. 7 pick in the NFL Draft, despite their packed depth chart at secondary. They had already traded for Sheldon Brown and had Eric Wright coming off a great rookie campaign.

However, the upside with Haden was too high.

Last week, Wright was placed on injured reserve with a leg injury and Brown has been fighting with injuries all season. This has helped Haden see consistent playing time.

He continued his consistent play Sunday when the Baltimore Ravens came to town. Haden recorded five tackles, one interception, one sack and one forced fumble. It was his first sack and forced fumble of the season.

After recording eight interceptions in three years of college football, Haden has six interceptions as a rookie in the NFL. He has also recorded 58 tackles.

Haden should finish near the top of the voting for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, although Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is believed the be the favorite.

Tim Tebow recorded his first victory as an NFL quarterback. He was 16-for-29, throwing for 308 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Tebow added ten rushes for 27 yards and a touchdown, which gave Denver a one-point lead with 4:40 remaining. The Broncos trailed 17-0 at halftime.

It was Tebow's first win as a starter in the NFL. In two starts, his interception on Sunday is his only turnover.

Tebow hit former Florida receiver Jabar Gaffney for four receptions for 90 yards.

Rex Grossman got his second consecutive start, and he has now led the Washington Redskins to two-straight wins. Grossman was 19-for-39, throwing for 182 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Grossman also added a Gator chomp for the Jacksonville fans after he threw for the touchdown in the first quarter.

Jacksonville defensive end Jeremy Mincey had three tackles and two pass deflections in the losing effort.

No team in the NFL had an impact made by Gators like the Cincinnati Bengals experienced. Reggie Nelson had eight tackles and a forced fumble in the Bengals 34-20 win over the San Diego Chargers.

Keiwan Ratliff added eight tackles. Carlos Dunlap had a sack, his eighth of the season. The rookie defensive end has recorded seven sacks in the Bengals last five games. Andre Caldwell added four catches for 87 yards to help the Bengals effort.

Brandon Siler gave the Chargers six tackles, including one for loss.

The New England Patriots locked up the No. 1 seed in the AFC and home field advantage until the Super Bowl. They did it without their three Florida rookies who have made an impact all season. Aaron Hernandez and Jermaine Cunningham didn't play because of injury, while Brandon Spikes is serving a suspension that will end with next week's regular season finale.


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