The Loop

Cleveland's Denzel Ward literally sliding underneath a blocker to make a tackle is one of the defensive plays of the year

In the fantasy, offensive-stats-over-everything football world, some of the best defensive players in the NFL don't get the love they deserve. Sure, they may not rack up points on your fantasy squad, but that doesn't mean we should be ignorning them. 

The truly great ones are impossible to ignore, and Cleveland Browns cornerback Denzel Ward may be making that impossible-to-ignore jump in year three. After making the Pro Bowl as a rookie, the No. 4 overall pick followed with a solid sophomore campaign in 2019. But he's making a huge leap in 2020, having already matched his passes defended total from last year in half the games, and ranking seventh on the team in solo tackles. 

On Sunday Ward recorded his first tackle for loss of the season, and it was no ordinary TFL. On Cincinnati's opening drive of the game, Joe Burrow and the Bengals offense faced 2nd and 5 at midfield. Recognizing a screen immediately, Ward darted toward receiver Tyler Boyd, but had to shed a blocker to get to him. Rather than take on the block, Ward literally slid under it, popped right up and made a tackle for a loss of two yards:

Forget the slide, how about Ward getting seven yards up field in an absolute BLINK? And that was with his first step being backwards just before the snap. It's a ridiculously athletic play, and a ridiculously heads up play. Par for the course for Ward, who has been clutch all season: 

This is some wildly impressive stuff from a 23-year-old corner. We'd call the slide/TFL combo the defensive play of the week, but that title actually belongs to DK Metcalf. Offensive players remain king.