Irish In The NFL: Will Fuller Dominates
Heading into the Houston Texans’ fifth game of the season, former Irish wide receiver Will Fuller had just 14 receptions for 183 yards and no touchdowns.
Then, in several blurs down the field, he more than doubled those season totals against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.
In the Texans’ 53-32 victory, Fuller reeled in 14 receptions for 217 yards and three touchdowns. Prior to this, Fuller's best single-game effort was a five-catch, 125-yard and two-touchdown performance against the Seattle Seahawks on Oct. 29, 2017.
After the game, he said this is the most yards he has had in a single contest since high school. His previous career high for receptions in a game was eight. He now has 28 catches for 400 yards (14.3 yards per reception) and three touchdowns this season.
Fuller was humble after the game and gave credit to his teammate and fellow wideout DeAndre Hopkins, who many revere as the best receiver in the NFL.
“Just playing with Hop, like I always say, is easy,” Fuller said. “He gets a lot of coverages thrown his way, and I feel like that’s why they brought me here: to help him out. It took me a while, but I finally had this big game.”
The main reason Fuller hasn’t had more “big” games is due to his injury history. Over the first three seasons of his career, he missed a total of 17 games. He said he is still recovering from an ACL tear suffered in October 2018.
“I’m still working out some things, too,” he said. “I still get stiff here and there. I’m going in and getting treatment and taking care of my knee. But definitely, health has played a big part of it. I’m starting to feel more and more like myself.”
Fuller only had one career multi-touchdown game with more than 100 yards prior to this past weekend’s matchup with the Falcons. That occurred on Oct. 29, 2017, when he had five receptions for 125 yards and two touchdowns against the Seattle Seahawks.
His performance against the Falcons may be the greatest statistical game by a former Notre Dame wide receiver ever. Jack Snow and Tim Brown each had one three-touchdown game during their NFL careers, but not also with 217 yards or 14 receptions.
Snow was a dominant wide receiver in the late 1960s. Three times he caught multiple-touchdown passes in a game while having more than 100 receiving yards:
• Oct. 15, 1967 — Snow’s Los Angeles Rams versus the Baltimore Colts: three receptions for 151 yards and two touchdowns.
• Oct. 5, 1969 — Snow’s Los Angeles Rams versus the New Orleans Saints: three receptions for 133 yards and three touchdowns.
• Oct.8, 1972 — Snow’s Los Angeles Rams versus the San Francisco 49ers: four receptions for 130 yards and two touchdowns.
All three of these were monster games for a wide receiver in the 1960s and 70s, when teams did not pass the ball anywhere near as much as they do today. To add to this point, Snow never had more than eight receptions in a game.
Brown, on the other hand, played in a more pass-happy era, and even he never came close to Fuller’s single-game numbers. He had three touchdown passes in a game just once, in an eight-reception and 158-yard effort against the Tennessee Titans on Aug. 31, 1997.
His career high in yards was 183 against the Buffalo Bills on Dec. 5, 1993. Brown did, however, tie Fuller for catches in a game with 14 against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Dec. 21, 1997.
As for other former Irish receivers in the NFL, Golden Tate has had just one 100-yard performance with multiple touchdowns, which came against the Dallas Cowboys while he was with the Detroit Lions last season (eight catches for 132 yards and two touchdowns).
Tight end Tyler Eifert had three touchdowns in a game just once in his career in 2015, but that came with 53 yards and five receptions.
Fuller Touchdown No. 1
Fuller Touchdown No. 2
Fuller Touchdown No. 3
Former Notre Dame Football Players In The NFL Week Five Recap
Here is how former Notre Dame players fared during week five of the NFL season:
• Miles Boykin (Played at Notre Dame from 2015-18), WR, Baltimore Raven: Did not register any noteworthy stats and was not targeted in the 3-2 Ravens’ 26-23 win over the 1-4 Pittsburgh Steelers … For the season, has five receptions for 48 yards and two scores.
• Sheldon Day (2012-15), DL, San Francisco 49ers: Had one tackle in the 4-0 49ers’ 31-3 win over the 2-3 Cleveland Browns … Compiled five tackles in the team’s first four contests.
Day also made a special appearance at the end of Brian Kelly’s weekly radio show:
• Tyler Eifert (2009-12), TE, Cincinnati Bengals: Was targeted four times and had two catches for 14 yards in the 0-5 Bengals’ 26-23 home loss to the 1-3-1 Arizona Cardinals … Has 13 catches for 95 yards and one touchdown through five games.
• Matthias Farley (2011‑15), DB, New York Jets: Played on special teams in the 0-4 Jets’ 31-6 loss to the 3-2 Philadelphia Eagles … Has not played a defensive snap since being picked up by the Jets at the end of the preseason.
• Will Fuller (2013-15), WR, Houston Texans: Snagged 14 receptions for 217 yards and three touchdowns in the 3-2 Texans’ 53-32 win versus the the 1-4 Atlanta Falcons … His longest catch of the day went for 44 yards and a score … Has 28 receptions for 400 yards and three touchdowns through five games.
• J.J. Jansen (2004-07), LS, Carolina Panthers: Participated in 35.3 percent of the 3-2 Panthers’ special teams snaps in their 34-27 home win over the Jacksonville Jaguars … Has played in every game this season.
• TJ Jones (2010‑13), WR, Free Agent: Was cut by the New York Giants to make room for Golden Tate, who returned from suspension … For the season, he has three receptions for 38 yards and a touchdown … Reportedly, the Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers have worked him out since he was released by the Giants.
T.J. Jones, a 2014 Notre Dame graduate, was cut Oct. 1 by the New York Giants. The Minnesota Vikings worked him out Friday, then the Green Bay Packers had him in today.— Jude (@ndjrs) October 8, 2019
Eddie Vanderdoes, who was part of the 2013 #NDFB class for ~5 seconds, also worked out with the Pack today. https://t.co/sIbnajnYE4
• DeShone Kizer (2014-16), QB, Oakland Raiders: Did not play in the 3-2 Raiders’ 24-21 win over the 3-2 Chicago Bears in London … Has yet to see game action since joining the team at the end of the preseason.
• Julian Love (2015-18), CB, New York Giants: Was active this week for the 2-3 Giants’ 28-10 loss to the 3-2 Vikings … Played on 12 special teams snaps … Has yet to play a defensive snap this season.
• Nick Martin (2011-15), OL, Houston Texans: For the fifth game in a row, he played 100 percent of the offensive snaps at center in the 3-2 Texans’ 53-32 home win over 1-4 Atlanta Falcons … The Texans’ starting offensive line was back to full health this weekend and did not allow a sack for just the second time in quarterback DeShaun Watson’s career.
The Texans' starting offensive line:— Sarah Barshop (@sarahbarshop) October 6, 2019
LT: Laremy Tunsil
LG: Max Scharping
C: Nick Martin
RG: Zach Fulton
RT: Tytus Howard
Fulton is starting after a back injury kept him out in Week 4.
• Zack Martin (2009-13), OL, Dallas Cowboys: Participated in 100 percent of the offensive snaps in the 3-2 Cowboys’ 34-24 loss to the 4-1 Green Bay Packers.
• Mike McGlinchey (2013-17), OL, San Francisco 49ers: Was in for 100 percent of the offensive snaps in the 4-0 49ers' win over the Browns … Started at right tackle in each of San Francisco’s first four contests.
• Quenton Nelson (2014-17), OL, Indianapolis Colts: Was named to the Pro Football Focus Team of the Week for the second week in a row based on his performance in the 3-2 Colts’ 19-13 win against the 4-1 Kansas City Chiefs … Per PFF, he allowed one hurry and no sacks or hits on the quarterback in 37 pass-blocking snaps and earned an 93.6 run-blocking grade … In 202 pass-blocking snaps on the season, he has yet to give up a sack.
• Romeo Okwara (2012-15), DE, Detroit Lions: The 2-1-1 Lions had a bye … For the season, he has nine tackles, half a sack and a forced fumble.
• C.J. Prosise (2012-15), RB, Seattle Seahawks: Did not register a stat in the 4-1 Seahawks’ 30-29 win over the 3-2 Los Angeles Rams … Has eight receptions for 51 yards plus nine carries for 16 yards and a touchdown through four contests.
• Isaac Rochell (2013-16), DT, Los Angeles Chargers: Had one tackle in the 2-3 Chargers’ 20-13 loss to the 1-4 Denver Broncos … For the season, he has four tackles and one sack.
• Kyle Rudolph (2008-10), TE, Minnesota Vikings: Hauled in the only pass thrown his way for a four-yard reception in the 3-2 Vikings’ 28-10 win over the Giants … For the season, he has six receptions for 36 yards and no touchdowns.
• Harrison Smith (2007-11), S, Minnesota Vikings: Notched six tackles and two pass deflections in the win against the Giants … For the season, he has 30 tackles, one forced fumble and an interception … He also has six passes defended, which is tied for third in the NFL.
NFL Leaders - Passes Defended— IKE Packers (@IKE_Packers) October 7, 2019
1. Jaire Alexander GB (9)
2. Jonathan Joseph HOU (7)
3. Kevin King GB (6)
3. Harrison Smith MIN (6)
3. Janoris Jenkins NYG (6)
3. Logan Ryan TEN (6)
3. James Bradberry CAR (6)
3. Justin Coleman DET (6)
3. Cory Littleton LAR (6)
• Jaylon Smith (2013-15), LB, Dallas Cowboys: Registered nine tackles (five solo), two tackles for a loss, a sack, a pass deflection and a quarterback hit in the loss to the Packers … Tied for seventh in the NFL with 45 tackles.
• Durham Smythe (2013-17), TE, Miami Dolphins: The 0-4 Dolphins had a bye … For the season, he has one reception for 24 yards.
• Ronnie Stanley (2012-15), OT, Baltimore Ravens: Played in 100 percent of the offensive snaps in the 3-2 Ravens’ win over the Steelers … Has started each of the first five contests at left tackle.
OL All-Pro's through the first quarter of 2019:— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) October 1, 2019
LT: Ronnie Stanley
LG: Quenton Nelson
C: Jason Kelce
RG: Brandon Brooks
RT: La'el Collins
• Golden Tate (2007-09), WR, New York Giants: In his first game back from a suspension for performance-enhancing drugs, he was targeted six times and had three receptions for 13 yards in the Giants loss to the Vikings.
• Jerry Tillery (2015-18), DT, Los Angeles Chargers: Played 23 percent of the defensive snaps and recorded a sack and a quarterback hit in the 2-3 Chargers’ loss to the 1-4 Broncos …. For the season, he has compiled five tackles and 1.5 sacks.
• Drue Tranquill (2014-18), LB, Los Angeles Chargers: Registered 20 defensive snaps and seven tackles (five solo) in the 2-3 Chargers’ loss to the Broncos … Also played on 66.7 percent of the special team snaps … Has 12 tackles through five games.
• Stephon Tuitt (2011-13), DE, Pittsburgh Steelers: Registered eight tackles and one stop for a loss in the 1-4 Steelers’ 26-23 loss to the Ravens ... Tied for 19th in the NFL in sacks (3.5) and tied for sixth in tackles for loss (seven), plus has made 22 tackles so far this season.
• Dexter Williams (2015-18), RB, Green Bay Packers: Was once again inactive for the 4-1 Packers’ win against the 3-2 Cowboys … Has yet to play in a game this season.