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Foye Oluokun takes home NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors after game-sealing interception

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Detroit Lions v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Foye Oluokun is a Falcons success story. One of two sixth-round picks the Falcons made in 2018 who has turned into a player Atlanta leans heavily on—the other is Russell Gage—Oluokun has been one of the team’s most pleasant surprises as a starter. That’s not easy for any sixth round pick to do, but Oluokun took over after De’Vondre Campbell departed in free agency in 2020 and hasn’t looked back.

This season, he’s second in the NFL in tackles and (obviously) leads the team there, is tied for the team lead in interceptions, and is tied for second in sacks. He’s had his ups and downs in his first year in Dean Pees’ defense, like many defenders have, but he’s turning in a quality season and is only getting better as the weeks go on. That’s why it’s awfully nice to see him get the NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors for Week 16, as he just did.

This comes after an effort in which Oluokun was everywhere against Tim Boyle and the Lions, with 14 combined tackles, a pass deflection, a tackle for a loss, and most critically a game-sealing interception on the final drive of the game. The Lions were knocking on the door and could have beat Atlanta with a touchdown, but Boyle made an unwise throw under duress that Oluokun made sure was a costly mistake. The Falcons were able to kneel it out and earn their seventh victory thanks to the huge play, and that plus a very productive day overall makes Oluokun a very deserving choice for the honor.

It’s the second NFC Defensive Player of the Week award for the Falcons in 2021, as Deion Jones earned the honor back in Week 7. It’s also the fourth NFC Player of the Week honor of the year, as Matt Ryan took it home for the offense in Week 9 and Thomas Morstead earned it for special teams in his first game with the team back in Week 12. That’s one more award than Atlanta received in 2020, when Ryan, Oluokun and Jacob Tuioti-Mariner all earned Player of the Week honors. Oluokun is obviously making a habit of this.

Oluokun is likely to be this team’s biggest free agent priority in 2022, given that the coaching staff has spoken highly of him, he’s emerged as a young leader for the defense, and he’s settling in and delivering some terrific performances down the stretch. We’ll hope the Falcons can bring him back so he can keep adding to this list of accolades.