Safety Marques Anderson of the Green Bay Packers, wide receiver Antonio Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys, wide receiver Reche Caldwell of the San Diego Chargers, defensive end Julius Peppers of the Carolina Panthers and wide receiver Antwaan Randle-El of the Pittsburgh Steelers are the finalists for Pepsi NFL Rookie Of The Week honors for games played on October 13-14, the NFL announced Tuesday.
Fans can vote for one of these five players on NFL.com from Tuesday morning through Wednesday afternoon to determine the Pepsi NFL Rookie Of The Week. The Pepsi NFL Rookie Of The Week will be announced Thursday on NFL.com. It is the first weekly NFL honor to be selected solely by NFL fans.
After the regular season, five players will be nominated for Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year honors. Fans can vote for the winner on NFL.com throughout the month of January. The winner will be announced at a press conference at Super Bowl XXXVII in San Diego.
A closer look at the finalists:
- Green Bay's Marques Anderson recorded a game-high 12 tackles and an interception in the Packers' 28-10 win over New England. Anderson's interception came late in the third quarter and with the Packers leading 21-3. Anderson intercepted the pass on the Green Bay 13-yard line and returned it 22 yards to the Green Bay 35. The Packers scored on the ensuing drive to extend their lead to 28-3.
- Dallas' Antonio Bryant caught three passes for 45 yards and scored the game-winning touchdown with 1:52 remaining in the game on a 24-yard touchdown catch in the Cowboys' 14-13 win over Carolina. Bryant, who has caught a touchdown pass in two consecutive games, made the acrobatic catch across the middle for the winning score with a defender competing for the ball.
- San Diego's Reche Caldwell had three catches for 25 yards and the game-winning touchdown with 14 seconds remaining in the game on a two-yard pass in the Chargers' 35-34 win over division rival Kansas City. The touchdown was the first of Caldwell's career.
- Carolina's Julius Peppers recorded three tackles, three sacks, one pass defensed, a forced fumble and an interception in the Panthers' 14-13 loss to Dallas. Peppers' first career interception came in the first quarter at the Carolina 12-yard. Peppers returned the ball 21 yards and pitched it to linebacker Mark Fields, who advanced the ball to the Dallas 32-yard line. The turnover led to Carolina's first points of the game and a 7-0 lead. This was Peppers' second career three-sack game, tying an NFL record for most three-sack games by a rookie (Leslie O'Neal of San Diego in 1986).
- Pittsburgh's Antwaan Randle-El had one reception for 25 yards, rushed once for 24 yards and returned a kick 99 yards for a touchdown in the Steelers' 34-7 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. Randle-El's 99-yard kickoff return was his first touchdown of his career and marked the second-longest kickoff return for a score in Steelers history.
This is Pepsi's first year as the official soft drink sponsor of the NFL.