As Duke football prepares for its bowl game, several former Blue Devils are helping their teams vie for the playoffs. The Blue Zone breaks down some alumni making a difference with their performances:
Noah Gray, TE, Kansas City Chiefs
Sunday’s loss against the Packers was a frustrating one for the Chiefs, who have now dropped three of their last five contests. It was not a great showing for former Blue Devil Noah Gray either, who was limited to just 36% of Kansas City’s offensive snaps. The Leominster, Mass., native made the most out of his limited usage, catching his only target of the contest for his fourth career receiving touchdown to bring the Chiefs within two of the Packers' lead. However, Gray’s score would be the last for Kansas City, who lost in somewhat controversial fashion on the final drive. With the Chiefs now 8-4 and fighting to earn back the AFC’s No. 1 seed, Gray and the offense will hope for a bounceback in a pivotal contest against the 6-6 Bills Sunday.
Laken Tomlinson, OG, New York Jets
The Jets’ offense has struggled down the stretch this season — in its last six contests, New York has not eclipsed 13 points. The story was the same Sunday against the Falcons, as the Jets lost in a frustrating 13-8 contest. For his part, Duke alum Laken Tomlinson arguably had his best game as a New York Jet, earning a 73.7 offensive grade from Pro Football Focus. The Chicago, Ill., native also recovered a fumble by Jets’ quarterback Tim Boyle in the fourth quarter to prevent Atlanta from gaining better field position. However, Tomlinson’s good day was not enough to aid the New York ground game, as it averaged just 2.5 yards per carry. The 4-8 Jets hope to salvage any remaining chance at playoff contention heading into a matchup against the 7-5 Texans Sunday.
Jamison Crowder, WR/PR, Washington Commanders
2023 has been an unfortunate season for the Washington Commanders, who, with a blowout 45-15 loss to the Miami Dolphins Sunday, guaranteed their seventh consecutive non-winning season. The Dolphins’ potent offense scored five touchdowns and thus only needed to punt the ball three times. As such, punt returner Jamison Crowder took just three snaps on special teams and five on offense. The Monroe, N.C., native returned one punt for 11 yards in the third quarter, which gave Washington solid field position, but down 23, the drive would end with a missed field goal, adding insult to injury. Crowder, who co-leads the league in punt returns at 29, will hope to keep producing on special teams as the Commanders head into the final stretch of another lost season.
Victor Dimukeje, OLB, Arizona Cardinals
Third-year pro Victor Dimukeje is quietly having the best season of his young career but has also produced a few unusual performances this season. Take Sunday’s game against the Steelers, for instance. Dimukeje started the contest and played 33% of defensive snaps yet failed to register a single statistic on the box score — no sacks, tackles or quarterback hits.
Despite Dimukeje’s lack of impact, the Cardinals defeated Pittsburgh in a 24-10 delay-filled contest. At 3-10, Arizona is effectively out of the playoffs, but with contests against the 49ers, Eagles and Seahawks coming up, it still has the chance to be a spoiler for playoff-contending squads. Dimukeje and the Cardinals will look to end the season on a positive note following a bye this upcoming week.
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