They might have been the hottest pair of offensive teammates in the NFL down the stretch, and the honors have been pouring in accordingly.
On Thursday, Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back LeGarrette Blount was named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month, the first Buccaneer to win that award since Cadillac Williams did it twice in 2005.
In addition, Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman was selected as the league's "Air" Player of the Week for his efforts in the Bucs' season-ending win over the New Orleans Saints. This marks the second straight week that Freeman has won that award, which is voted on by fans on NFL.com. Freeman was also named the league's Air Player of the Week after his five-touchdown performance against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 16.
Blount and Freeman have been racking up the hardware of late, not surprising given the strong finishes each player put on his 2010 campaign. From the beginning of December to the end of the season, Blount led the entire NFL, not just rookies, in rushing with 511 yards. Over the last four weeks of the season, Freeman was the league's top-rated quarterback, with a passer rating of 127.8.
On Wednesday, the NFL named Freeman the NFC Offensive Player of the Week, making him the first Buccaneer to win that award twice in one season since Brad Johnson in 2002. The week before, Blount was named the NFL's "Ground" Player of the Week, making him and Freeman the only pair of teammates to sweep the Air and Ground awards in the same week in 2010.
Blount rushed for over half of his 1,007 yards in the final five weeks of the season. He piled up his 511 yards on just 87 carries, averaging a fantastic 5.9 yards per carry. He also scored two touchdowns and tied for the NFL lead in that span with 14 carries of 10 or more yards. All of that allowed Blount to become just the second undrafted rookie to crack 1,000 yards in league history, joining Dominic Rhodes of the Indianapolis Colts in 2001.
Blount had three 100-yard games in December and January, never falling below 66 yards in any of the five contests. He also averaged at least 4.5 yards per carry in all but one of those outings. That productive stretch was highlighted by a 164-yard performance against Seattle in Week 16 in which he ripped off runs of 20, 48 and 53 yards during Tampa Bay's 38-15 win. Blount's big outing made him the first Buccaneer since Williams in 2005 to rush for over 150 yards in a single game, and overall it was the top running game by a Tampa Bay back in a decade (Warrick Dunn, 210 yards against Dallas in 2000).
Blount is just the fifth player in Tampa Bay history to win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month honors. Fullback Mike Alstott was the first in November of 1996 and running back Warrick Dunn followed in September of 1997. Quarterback Shaun King was next in December of 1999, before Williams won his two awards in September and December of 2005.
Freeman completed 21 of 26 passes for 255 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions against the Saints this past Sunday, leading his team to a 23-13 victory that, at the time, kept the Buccaneers alive in the playoff race. He threw touchdown passes to Dezmon Briscoe and Mike Williams and distributed the ball to 10 different pass-catchers, including five rookies. He finished the game with a passer rating of 133.2 and finished the season with a streak of 109 passes without an interception.
Freeman is the only player in the NFL to win the Air Player of the Week award twice in a row in 2010.