Who was that?! Unheralded ballers who mattered in Week 11

Sometimes the NFL's top plays on a Sunday come from people we wouldn't expect. They're the plays that make you ask, "Who was that?" These performances can change a player's career.

Here's a look at Week 11's unheralded ballers, starting with a reserve rookie running back with a lead back performance and the Giants finally getting offensive line production from an unlikely source.

Samaje Perine, RB, Washington Redskins

Rushed for a career-high 117 yards and a TD on 23 carries in a 34-31 OT loss to the Saints

What happened: Perine's powerful downhill running almost gave the Redskins enough to pull off the upset over the Saints. Perine and receiver Josh Doctson showed a lot of young promise for a Washington team that may soon need to look toward 2018.

Why it matters: Washington has suffered season-ending injuries to its top running backs (Rob Kelley, Chris Thompson) in back-to-back weeks, so it will be Perine's job going forward. He'll be a popular waiver wire pickup in fantasy football leagues and could help the Redskins stay on the deep edges of the playoff race.

Chad Wheeler, RT, New York Giants

Didn't allow a sack or QB hit to Justin Houston in his first career start, a 12-9 OT win over Chiefs

What happened: Justin Pugh was injured so the Giants turned to Wheeler, an undrafted rookie, to match up against one of the NFL's best pass-rushers. Wheeler did more than handle his own.

Why it matters: Not many good things have happened to the Giants this season, but this is one of them so they should savor it. The quit label came out a lot recently, but the Giants had fight Sunday and they protected Eli Manning, who didn't get sacked.

D.J. Hayden, CB, Detroit Lions

27-yard fumble return for a TD in 27-24 win over Bears

What happened: Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky fumbled the snap, Hayden recovered and took it to the house. That touchdown trimmed the Bears' lead to 10-7. "It kind of popped us off," Hayden said.

Why it matters: The Lions are still in the thick of the NFC North division and NFC wild-card playoff races because plays like the one Hayden made. They have seven return TDs (defense and special teams) this season, which ties a franchise record.

Marquis Flowers, LB, New England Patriots

Forced fumble with Raiders driving for score at end of half; turned tide for 33-8 win

What happened: The Raiders were attempting to take momentum back from the Patriots, marching down the field for a TD when Flowers punched the ball free from wide receiver Seth Roberts after a reception. It was a 10-point swing as the Patriots kicked a 62-yard field goal before halftime to go up 17-0.

Why it matters: New England is hard to beat when you play great ball, and even harder when you turn the ball over. That might have been the play of the game and it didn't involve Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski or one of the Pats' 17 running backs. Kind of scary for the rest of the NFL.

Willie Henry/Matthew Judon, DL/LB, Baltimore Ravens

Combined for four sacks in 23-0 win over Packers

What happened: Henry and Judon, both second-year players, contributed four of the Ravens' six sacks as they smothered the Packers in an impressive defensive performance.

Why it matters: The AFC wild-card race is weak and the Ravens seem to be in the driver's seat to secure a wild-card spot despite their lackluster play through 10 games. This defense is why teams will be worried if they get into the dance.

ESPN NFL Nation reporters John Keim, Jordan Ranaan, Michael Rothstein and Mike Reiss contributed to this story