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Vikings OLB Za'Darius Smith Named NFC Defensive Player of the Week

EAGAN, Minn. – Za'Darius Smith is a force to be reckoned with.

Just ask Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray, whom Smith sacked three times on Sunday en route to the Vikings 34-26 win.

In addition to the trio of sacks, Smith added five quarterback pressures, seven tackles, four tackles for loss and a pass defensed. He led the NFL in tackles for loss and sacks for Week 8.

His five QB pressures tied for the NFC's third most last week, according to Next Gen Stats.

We've all heard of Kirktober, but what about Za'tober?

Smith previously earned NFC Player of the Week honors with the Packers in October 2020; in October 2018, he was named AFC Player of the Week while a member of the Ravens.

Of his 53 career sacks, 21.5 have been recorded during the month of October.

Smith became the third Viking to earn a "Player of the Week" designation last month; Greg Joseph and Ryan Wright won NFC Special Teams Player of the Week against the Saints and Dolphins, respectively.

The last Viking to be named NFC Defensive Player of the Week was Danielle Hunter, after recording 3.0 sacks against the Lions on Dec. 8, 2019.

Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell spoke to reporters following Sunday's game and highlighted Smith's dual ability to play inside and outside on the line.

"It's really hard to have a protection plan for a guy that can be in any one of five spots up front. We can use him to manipulate the protection call if we want. We can use him to try to isolate somebody in protection if we want," O'Connell said. "Za'Darius, clearly a game ball again, the three sacks.

"Right before that last play he made, I asked him, 'Hey, I need one more.' He goes out and gets it," O'Connell added with a smile. "He was the first one to tell me about it."