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NFC Players of the Month

Thursday, October 3, 2002

By David W. Unkle
SJSports Staff Writer

Quarterback DONOVAN MC NABB of the Philadelphia Eagles, defensive end MICHEAL RUCKER of the Carolina Panthers and kicker RYAN LONGWELL of the Green Bay Packers are the NFC Offensive, Defensive and Special Teams Players of the Month for September, the NFL announced Thursday.

McNabb helped the Eagles to a franchise-record and NFC-leading 140 points through four games, as Philadelphia sits atop the NFC East with a 3-1 record. In that span, McNabb accounted for 71.5 percent of the club's offensive production.

McNabb completed 92 of 150 attempts for 1,050 yards, nine touchdowns and three interceptions in September for a 92.2 passer rating, third best in the NFC. His nine touchdowns tie for the NFC lead while his yardage total is third in the conference. McNabb has also rushed for 141 yards – second-most in the NFL among quarterbacks – averaging 6.7 yards per carry with two touchdowns.

After dropping a 27-24 decision to the Tennessee Titans on Kickoff 2002 Weekend, the Eagles have won three consecutive games by an average of 23 points.

"Donovan is not only a great football player, he's a great leader," says Eagles head coach ANDY REID. "That's very important, especially in the huddle trying to get people to listen. As a coach, you're not on the field. With Donovan, it's like I have a coach out on the field who can take control and get the offense moving in the right direction."

In his fourth season from Syracuse, this is McNabb's first Player of the Month Award.

Rucker has been a vital cog in the Panthers' turnaround that has them tied for the top spot in the NFC South with a 3-1 record. The defensive end concluded the month with a club-best five sacks, third-most in the NFL, 21 tackles and 12 quarterback hurries.

The Panthers' defense is ranked first in the league, surrendering 239.8 yards per game. The unit is also tops in the NFC against both the run and pass, allowing 80.5 yards rushing and 159.3 passing per game. The Panthers' 17 sacks are an NFL high, including 15 from the defensive line.

Rucker tied a club record on September 22 with a three-sack performance in a 21-14 road win over Minnesota, also forcing a fumble. He is more than half way to topping his career-high of nine sacks set last season.

"I feel like our team is definitely on an upswing," says Rucker. "I'm just happy to be part of it and contribute to us winning in any way I can."

In his fourth season from Nebraska, this is Rucker's first Player of the Month Award.

Longwell earned honors for helping the Packers to a 3-1 start and first place in the NFC North.

His 39 points are second in the NFL among kickers. Longwell connected on nine of 10 field-goal attempts and was a perfect 12 of 12 on extra points.

Longwell helped the Packers to an auspicious start in 2002 when he kicked three field goals, including a 34-yard overtime game-winner, against the Falcons on September 8. Then on September 22 in a 37-31 win over Detroit, Longwell converted all three of his field-goal attempts, including a 47-yarder with 1:15 remaining. This kick gave the Packers a six-point advantage and forced the Lions to go for a game-winning touchdown – rather than a game-tying field goal – on a drive that ended with a Green Bay interception at the Packers' three-yard line.

In his sixth season from California, this is Longwell's first Player of the Month Award.

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