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Vikings LB Ivan Pace, Jr., Named NFC Defensive Player of Week 14

EAGAN, Minn. – Ivan Pace, Jr., continues to impress.

He earned the respect of coaches when Minnesota signed him as an undrafted free agent this spring, and he's garnered the attention of fans throughout the Vikings first 13 games.

Now, he's turning heads across the league.

Pace has been named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week for Week 14, the league announced Wednesday.

The inside linebacker racked up a career-high 13 tackles at Las Vegas Sunday and nabbed the game-sealing interception, helping Minnesota eke out a 3-0 win and remain competitive in the NFC playoff picture.

He tied a franchise record for tackles in a game by a Vikings rookie and joined DeMeco Ryans (with Houston in 2006) to become the second rookie since 1994 with 13 tackles, a sack and an interception in one game.

Through 13 games, Pace has 68 tackles (43 solo), an interception, 2.5 sacks, two tackles for loss, two passes defensed and a forced fumble.

"He's done a great job. The kid works hard; it's important to him," Vikings Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores said Tuesday. "It takes a little while to just get familiar with the NFL game – the speed of it, and the wear and tear that happens to your body throughout the season. I think he's really feeling good, really feeling confident. I think [Vikings linebackers coach] Mike Siravo's done a really good job of coaching him, the entire 'backer group, the entire year.

"I'm excited about where Ivan's progression's gone, and he'll hopefully continue to ascend," Flores added. "Hopefully that wasn't the best of Ivan Pace. He's got room to grow, and he's working toward that, for sure."

Pace, who will turn 23 Saturday, is highly touted by analytics site Pro Football Focus, which has the rookie at an overall PFF grade of 80.2 and a coverage grade of 84.7, which ranks seventh among all linebackers.

He and teammate Josh Metellus were the highest-graded players at their positions by PFF in Week 14.

Pace also has admirably handled the "green dot" helmet duties since Jordan Hicks landed on Injured Reserve.

Good Morning Football's Peter Schrager highlighted Pace's performance, as well.

NFC Players of the Week Under O'Connell

2023 Week 14 at Las Vegas: Ivan Pace, Jr., LB (Defensive)

2023 Week 9 at Atlanta: Joshua Dobbs, QB (Offensive)

2023 Week 7 vs. San Francisco: Camryn Bynum, S (Defensive)

2023 Week 6 at Chicago: Jordan Hicks, LB (Defensive)

2022 Week 12 vs. New England: Kene Nwangwu, RB/KR (Special Teams)

2022 Week 10 at Buffalo: Justin Jefferson, WR (Offensive)

2022 Week 8 vs. Arizona: Za'Darius Smith, OLB (Defensive)

2022 Week 6 at Miami: Ryan Wright, P (Special Teams)

2022 Week 4 vs. New Orleans in London: Greg Joseph, K (Special Teams)