OFFENSE: QB TOM BRADY NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
As the Patriots posted a 3-0 record in September, Brady led the NFL with a 79.5 completion percentage and a 141.8 quarterback rating. Brady completed 70 of 88 passes for 887 yards with 10 touchdowns. In Week 3 against Buffalo (9/23), Brady set a new career-high with a 150.9 passer rating and tied a career high with four touchdown passes. The veteran signal caller tossed three or more touchdowns in three consecutive games (9/9-9/23) and his 10 touchdown passes are the highest three-game total of his career. With Brady at the helm, New England was the league’s number ranked offense in September as the team scored 38 points in all three games. In his eighth season from Michigan, this is Brady’s first career Player of the Month Award.
DEFENSE: LB KIRK MORRISON, OAKLAND RAIDERS
Morrison, the man in the middle of the Raiders defense, has been a force as Oakland closed out September winning two consecutive games. The Raiders’ defense has posted eight interceptions, which rank first in the AFC and third in the NFL. The third-year linebacker had an interception in each of the first three games and is tied for first in the AFC and is tied for second in the league with three interceptions. All three interceptions took place in Oakland territory, thwarting potential scoring drives. The Raiders’ leading tackler last season (238), Morrison leads the team with 35 tackles, including four tackles for a loss. Morrison has also contributed a team-high six passes defensed. In his third year from San Diego State, this is Morrison’s first Player of the Month Award. SPECIAL TEAMS: KR-WR
JOSHUA CRIBBS, CLEVELAND BROWNS
Entering the league as an undrafted free agent in 2005, Cribbs has established himself as a key contributor on the Browns’ special teams units. Cribbs leads all NFL kickoff returners with 549 kickoff return yards and a 34.3 kickoff return average for the month. Cribbs posted five kickoff returns over 30 yards in September. In Week 3 against Oakland (9/23), Cribbs returned four kickoffs for 174 yards (43.5 average), including a career long 99-yard return for a touchdown (third of his career). Cribbs is tied for first in Browns history with BOBBY MITCHELL (3) for the most career kickoff return touchdowns and needs 49 yards to pass DINO HALL (3,185) and become the franchise leader in kickoff-return yards. Cribbs also ranks second on the team with six special teams tackles. In his third year from Kent State, this is Cribbs’ first Player of the Month Award.
OFFENSE: QB TONY ROMO, DALLAS COWBOYS
The Cowboys went 4-0 in September as Romo completed 72 of 121 passes (59.5 percent) for 1,199 yards with 11 touchdowns and three interceptions for an NFC-best 112.9 passer rating. Romo, who also rushed for two touchdowns, has led an offense that has scored 151 points, on pace for an NFL-record 604. He passed for at least 300 yards in three of the team’s four games, including a career-best 345 yards in Week 1 vs. the Giants (9/9), and passed for at least two touchdowns in all four games. Romo had five touchdowns in Week 1 (four passing, one rushing) and was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week. He had two touchdowns each in Weeks 2 and 3, and finished the month with a four-touchdown performance (three passing, one rushing) against St. Louis (9/30). In his fifth season from Eastern Illinois, this is Romo’s second Player of the Month Award (November, 2006).
DEFENSE: LB BARRETT RUUD, TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Ruud had 51 tackles, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, an interception and two passes defensed as the Buccaneers led the NFC in defense (291.8 yards per game) and went 3-1 during the month. Ruud’s 51 tackles led the team and his three forced fumbles tied for the most in the NFL during September. On Kickoff Weekend (9/9), Ruud had 12 tackles and recovered a fumble. In Week 2 (9/16), Ruud was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week after recording a career-best 16 tackles, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery in a 31-14 win over New Orleans. The next week, against St. Louis (9/23), Ruud had 15 tackles and recorded the first interception of his career. He finished the month with eight tackles and a forced fumble in the win over Carolina (9/30). In his third season from Nebraska, this is Ruud’s first Player of the Month Award.
SPECIAL TEAMS: KR-PR DEVIN HESTER, CHICAGO BEARS
Chicago’s return specialist led the NFL with 602 combined kick-return yards and scored two touchdowns in September. Hester, who posted a league-best total of 239 punt return yards and a 19.9-yard average, returned a punt 73 yards for a touchdown versus Kansas City (9/16) and was named the NFC Special Teams Player of Week 2. In the Bears’ Week 4 contest against Detroit (9/30), Hester returned a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown and finished the day with 314 combined kick-return yards, the second-highest total in NFL history (TYRONE HUGHES, 347). Hester is averaging 150.5 kick-return yards per game this season and is on pace for the second-best average in league annals (MICHAEL LEWIS, 152.0). In his second season from Miami, this is Hester’ second Player of the Month Award (December, 2006).
NFL Rookie of the Month
OFFENSE: RB ADRIAN PETERSON, MINNESOTA VIKINGS
A first-round selection (No. 7 overall) from Oklahoma, Peterson led the NFC with 383 rushing yards and 549 scrimmage yards in September. Peterson carried 76 times for 383 yards (5.0 avg.) with one touchdown and added nine receptions for 166 yards (18.4 avg.), including a 60-yard touchdown. Peterson is the conference’s top rusher and aims to be the first rookie to lead the NFC in rushing yards since Pro Football Hall of Famer BARRY SANDERS (1,470) in 1989. In four games during the month, Peterson recorded three 100-yard rushing games, tied for the most in the NFL. Peterson is the first Vikings player to earn Offensive Rookie of the Month honors since wide receiver RANDY MOSS collected the award in November of 1998.
DEFENSE: DT AMOBI OKOYE, HOUSTON TEXANS
Okoye, a first-round pick (No. 10 overall) from Louisville, started all four games and became the youngest player (20) to play in the NFL since the 1970 merger. Okoye notched 10 tackles, tied for the AFC lead with 4.0 sacks and forced a fumble. Okoye tied a team rookie record by posting a sack in three consecutive games and ranks second overall among defensive tackles with those 4.0 sacks. The Texans rank fourth in the AFC against the run, allowing 80.0 yards per game. Okoye is the second consecutive Texans player to earn a Rookie of the Month Award. Houston linebacker DE MECO RYANS was honored as the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month in December of 2006.
Other nominees for the September NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month Award were:
- Kansas City wide receiver DWAYNE BOWE (first round, Louisiana State), who led NFL rookies with 299 receiving yards and three touchdown receptions. Bowe tied for the NFL rookie lead with 18 catches.
- Green Bay wide receiver JAMES JONES (third round, San Jose State), who tied for the NFL rookie lead with 18 receptions and ranked second among rookies with 232 yards.
- Buffalo running back MARSHAWN LYNCH (first round, California), who ranked second among rookies with 307 rushing yards and led all rookies with three rushing touchdowns.
- Tampa Bay guard ARRON SEARS (second round, Tennessee), who started all four games and helped the Buccaneers rank second in the NFC in rushing (137.0 yards per game).
Other nominees for the September NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month Award were:
- Detroit safety GERALD ALEXANDER (second round, Boise State), who started all four games and recorded 14 tackles, one interception and three passes defensed along with five special teams tackles.
- Tampa Bay safety TANARD JACKSON (fourth round, Syracuse), who started all four games and had 27 tackles, one forced fumble and a pass defensed along with six special teams tackles.
- Tampa Bay defensive tackle GREG PETERSON (fifth round, North Carolina Central), who posted 12 tackles, 1.5 sacks, one fumble recovery and a pass defensed along with two special teams tackles.
- San Francisco linebacker PATRICK WILLIS (first round, Mississippi), who started all four games and led the team with 51 tackles while adding three passes defensed and one forced fumble.