Colts' Ebukam and Paye form dream African defensive duo for Indy

The race for African NFL player of the week in week 13 came down to two African-born players in the Indianapolis Colts defense, with Samson Ebukam and Kwity Paye leading them to a 31-28 win over the Tennessee TItans.

Alvin Kamara, Chuba Hubbard, Brandon Aiyuk, YaYa Diaby and Arnold Ebiketie were among the other players of African lineage who had weeks to remember.

African Player of the Week: Samson Ebukam (Indianapolis Colts)

Although he and Paye both got two sacks, Nigerian-born Ebukam wins Player of the Week largely for the work he did which does not immediately show on the stats board. Slipping and sliding everywhere from the first minute to the last, Ebukam was at or near the scene in just about every major defensive moment for the Colts.

The Titans were unable to contain him and he had a 25.9% pass-rush win rate according to Pro Football Focus, demonstrating how his blockers had severe issues keeping him contained. He had most of his key individual moments in the first half, but remained influential afterwards.

Ebukam came close to getting a third sack of the game at one point. Then, when Paye got his decisive sack in the last minute of the fourth quarter, he was right next to his fellow African defensive end, with the two of them having worked together to pile pressure on rookie quarterback Will Levis.

Ebukam finished the game with six tackles, including five solo tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble. He leads the Colts for the season with eight sacks in total, with Paye close behind him on 7.5.

African Moment of the Week: Kwity Paye (Indianapolis Colts)

With 39 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter and the game in the balance at 25-25, Paye made a strip-sack on Levis which helped take the Colts to overtime, where they wrapped up the win.

Paye and Ebukam both made a beeline for Levis, but it was Paye who managed to get his arm in his way as the quarterback sought to get the pass away, forcing a forward fumble, which was recovered by the Titans.

The Guinea-born Liberian defensive end finished with six tackles, two sacks and two forced fumbles in arguably his best game of the season to date. After four straight wins, the Colts are now 7-5 and right on the tail of AFC South leaders the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are 8-4.

Honorable Mentions:

Alvin Kamara, who is of Liberian descent through his mother, scored two rushing touchdowns for the New Orleans Saints, but they were unable to complete what would have been an incredible comeback win against the Detroit Lions, ultimately losing 33-28 largely as the result of a first quarter in which they were outscored 21-0.

Chuba Hubbard, who is Nigerian-Canadian, scored both of the Carolina Panthers' touchdowns in their 21-18 defeat to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It has been a nightmare season for the Panthers, who are 1-11, but it has at least contained some notable moments for Hubbard, who now has four touchdowns for the campaign.

For the Bucs, YaYa Diaby continued his superb rookie season as he picked up his fifth sack of 2023 in the victory. He was one of many reasons why Panthers quarterback Bryce Young had a day to forget.

Brandon Aiyuk, of Cameroonian lineage, has been a key player throughout this season for the San Francisco 49ers, making a habit of almost exclusively picking up only hugely meaningful receptions.

He continued that trend with a touchdown in the 42-19 win over the Philadelphia Eagles, playing his part as the Niners handed the Eagles only their second defeat of the season. The 49ers made a major statement of intent to push them all away in the race to be crowned the NFC number 1 seed.

Ebukam and Paye were the key defensive players for the Colts against the Titans, but Segun Olubi, who is the son of Nigerian immigrants, also popped up at a key moment with a fumble reception.

Foyesade Oluokun led the Jacksonville Jaguars defense as per usual against the Cincinnati Bengals, but the Jags suffered a heartbreaking 34-31 defeat in overtime despite his 13 tackles - only their fourth loss of the season.

African-born player watch:

Aside from Paye and Ebukam, Cameroon-born Arnold Ebiketie made a sack for the Atlanta Falcons in their 13-8 win over the New York Jets.