Former UTEP Miners Jones and Needham Shine in NFL Week 13
Week 13 in the National Football League 2020 season featured plenty of memorable plays. Two of them involved a pair of former UTEP Miners, Aaron Jones and Nik Needham. Showtyme's 77-yard fourth quarter touchdown run ended the Eagles comeback bid as the Green Bay Packers won their ninth game of the season by a final score of 30-16.
Jones finished the game with 130 yards on 15 carries and he added another 18 yards on three receptions. It was only his second touchdown in the last five games. The big reason for that is Aaron Rodgers. The 37-year old quarterback is having an MVP season with the Packers, including a league leading 36 touchdowns and just 4 interceptions. Rodgers has been so good that Green Bay has elected to throw every time they are deep in the red zone. As a result, Jones is getting fewer and fewer opportunities to score each game. Last night, he took matters into his own hands and thanks to some terrific blocks from Marquez Valdes-Scantling and David Bakhtiari, Jones made one of the most spectacular plays we have seen this season. For the season, he ranks 8th in the NFL with 754 rushing yards and he is tied for 10th with 7 rushing touchdowns and another 2 receiving scores.
Earlier in the day, Needham picked off his second pass in as many games as the Miami Dolphins improved to 8-4 on the season with their 19-7 win over the Bengals. Just like Jones' TD run sealed the win for the Packers, Needham's interception put away the game for the Dolphins.
This season, the second year pro has developed into a valuable nickel corner for Miami and he has been a valuable part of their defense. "I’m like, 'All right, who is this guy?' He was undrafted out of El Paso. Not going to lie, when he first came in, he was overweight. He didn’t move too well, but he kept making plays," Dolphins safety Eric Rowe told the South Florida Sun Sentinel last week. "Now fast forward to now, he can play inside, outside. He always has the tough task covering [slot receivers] … He’s always up to it, so his development, he’s a key piece of the defense," Rowe added.
According to Pro Football Focus, Needham ranks third in the NFL with a 77.2 passer rating for slot cornerbacks targeted at least 20 times this season. He is also a mainstay in the lineup, having played in 24 straight games for the Dolphins dating back to his rookie season. Needham, Jones, and New York Giants left guard Will Hernandez are a trio of former Miners who could also be playing in the NFL postseason.