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NFC Players of the Week

Thursday, October 17, 2002

By David W. Unkle
SJSports Staff Writer

Quarterback MARC BULGER of the St. Louis Rams, and defensive end DARREN HOWARD and return specialist MICHAEL LEWIS of the New Orleans Saints are the NFC Offensive, Defensive and Special Teams Players of the Week for games played the sixth week of the 2002 season (October 13-14), the NFL announced today.

Bulger led the Rams to their first win of the season, a 28-13 victory over the previously-undefeated Oakland Raiders. In his first NFL start, the Pittsburgh native completed 14 of 21 attempts for 186 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 134.1 passer rating. He also added a one-yard touchdown run.

Bulger helped stake the Rams to a 14-3 halftime lead with a pair of touchdown passes – a seven-yarder to wide receiver ISAAC BRUCE, followed by a 13-yard connection to wide receiver TORRY HOLT. Bulger spent the 2001 season as the Rams’ third quarterback after originally being drafted by the Saints out of West Virginia in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft.

“It was a tremendous performance by Marc,” said Rams head coach MIKE MARTZ. “This is a young man that has not started, let alone played, in a regular-season game. He comes out of the blocks 14 of 21, three touchdowns, and rushes for one. He made some unbelievable throws under pressure with great accuracy and confidence and it was an overall outstanding job by Marc.”

Howard helped the Saints improve to 5-1 and earn a share of first place in the NFC South with a 43-27 road win over the Washington Redskins. Howard led the Saints’ defense with a career-high three sacks and added four tackles and a pass defensed.

His first sack came in the first quarter and forced the Redskins into a second-and-18 from the Washington four-yard line. Two plays later, safety JAY BELLAMY intercepted a pass and the Saints scored a touchdown on the ensuing possession for a 20-0 lead. Howard’s sacks accounted for a minus-24 yards for the Redskins.

“The thing I am impressed with most right now is that somebody new is stepping up every game and making a play," said Saints head coach JIM HASLETT. "That is what good football teams do."

In his third season from Kansas State, this is Howard’s first Player of the Week Award.

Lewis earned Special Teams honors for a record-tying performance, becoming the seventh player in NFL history and first since EDDIE PAYTON on December 12, 1977 to return a kickoff and punt for touchdowns in the same game.

Lewis returned a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter, giving the Saints a 26-7 lead. Then, after the Redskins had narrowed their deficit to 29-21, Lewis ran back a punt 83 yards for a touchdown with 13:04 remaining in the third quarter, staking the Saints to a 36-21 advantage.

The New Orleans’ native also added 70 yards receiving, and his 356 combined net yards is the third-most in NFL history.

“Each week I've been just one play away from going all the way," Lewis said. "Today it just all came together."

Lewis earned a roster spot with the Saints after an impressive showing with the NFL Europe League’s Rhein Fire in the spring of 2001, leading the club with three touchdown receptions.

In his second season, this is Lewis' first Player of the Week Award.

Other nominees for NFC Offensive Player of Week 6 were:

  • Tampa Bay running back MIKE ALSTOTT, who carried 17 times for 126 yards and two touchdowns in the Buccaneers’ 17-3 win over Cleveland.
  • Minnesota quarterback DAUNTE CULPEPPER, who completed 27 of 36 attempts for 295 yards and two touchdowns in the Vikings’ 31-24 win over Detroit. He also added 39 yards rushing, including a seven-yard touchdown run.
  • St. Louis running back MARSHALL FAULK, who rushed for 158 yards, averaging 6.1 yards per carry, and also added a 10-yard touchdown catch.
  • San Francisco quarterback JEFF GARCIA, who completed 16 of 29 attempts for 202 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in the 49ers’ come-from-behind 28-21 win over Seattle.
  • Green Bay running back AHMAN GREEN, who rushed for 136 yards, including a one-yard touchdown run, and also added an eight-yard touchdown catch in the Packers’ 28-10 road-win over New England.
  • Atlanta quarterback DOUG JOHNSON, who completed 19 of 25 attempts for 257 yards, one touchdown with no interceptions for a 121.6 passer rating in the Falcons 17-10 road victory over the New York Giants.
  • New Orleans running back DEUCE MC ALLISTER, who had 121 yards rushing on 29 carries.

Other nominees for NFC Defensive Player of Week 6 were:

  • New Orleans safety JAY BELLAMY, who tied a career-high with two interceptions.
  • Minnesota cornerback COREY CHAVOUS, who had an interception in the end zone with 17 seconds remaining to clinch the Vikings’ win. He also added five tackles.
  • Atlanta linebacker JOHN HOLECEK, who had 14 tackles and one sack.
  • Carolina rookie defensive end JULIUS PEPPERS, who had three tackles, three sacks, one forced fumble and his first career interception in the Panthers’ 14-13 loss to Dallas. It was Peppers’ second three-sack game, and he became the first rookie since San Diego's LESLIE O'NEAL in 1986 (two) to have multiple three-sack games in a single season.
  • San Francisco cornerback AHMED PLUMMER, who had nine tackles, one interception and a forced fumble. Plummer’s fourth-quarter interception set up the club’s game-winning touchdown drive.
  • Tampa Bay defensive tackle WARREN SAPP, who had two sacks and seven tackles.

Other nominees for NFC Special Teams Player of Week 6 were:

  • Seattle punt returner BOBBY ENGRAM, who returned a punt 61 yards for his first career punt-return touchdown. Engram also added a team-leading six receptions for 85 yards against San Francisco.
  • Tampa Bay punt returner KARL WILLIAMS, who returned six punts for 120 yards, averaging 20 yards per return, including a long of 43 yards that set up a field goal.


Offense Defense Special Teams
Wk 1 QB Shane Matthews, Washington LB Jamie Winborn, San Francisco RB Fred McAfee, New Orleans
Wk 2 QB Kerry Collins, New York LB Brian Urlacher, Chicago KR MarTay Jenkins, Arizona
Wk 3 QB Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia S Deon Grant, Carolina K Matt Bryant, New York
Wk 4 RB Shaun Alexander, Seattle S Brian Dawkins, Philadelphia K Billy Cundiff, Dallas
Wk 5 QB Brett Favre, Green Bay LB Derrick Brooks, Tampa Bay K Bill Gramatica, Arizona
Wk 6 QB Marc Bulger, St. Louis DE Darren Howard, New Orleans KR-PR Michael Lewis, New Orleans

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