Another week, another rookie stepping into the spotlight for the 7-3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are winning with the NFL's youngest roster.
The latest incendiary rookie for the Buccaneers is defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who was instrumental in producing the franchise's first road shutout in seven years on Sunday in San Francisco. The league took notice of McCoy's performance, making him one of five nominees for the NFL's Rookie of the Week award for Week 11.
This is McCoy's first nomination for the award but, incredibly, the ninth one the Buccaneers have garnered overall in just 10 games played. Wide receiver Mike Williams has been nominated five times, running back LeGarrette Blount twice and McCoy and safety Cody Grimm once each.
Given the nearly weekly inclusion of a Buccaneer among the ROTW nominees, Tampa Bay fans may already have the voting page on NFL.com bookmarked. If not, click here to visit the page and cast your vote.
McCoy's competitors for the honor in Week 11 are New Orleans running back Chris Ivory, Tennessee kick returner Marc Mariani, Dallas punt returner Bryan McCann and Cleveland safety T.J. Ward. The NFL's ROTW balloting site includes video of each player's performance on Sunday to help fans decide the week's top newcomer.
McCoy has a strong case following what may be his best performance so far. The instigator of much of the backfield mayhem that shut down San Francisco's offense, McCoy finished the game with seven tackles, one sack, two quarterback pressures and a pass defensed. He actually took part in two separate sacks, splitting the first one with defensive tackle Al Woods and the second one with defensive end Stylez G. White. In both cases, McCoy had the initial penetration that led to the quarterback takedown.
San Francisco had averaged 370 yards of offense in its two previous games, victories over Denver and St. Louis, but were held to just 189 yards by the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay prevailed 21-0, handing the 49ers their first shutout loss at home since 1977. McCoy's constant presence in the backfield helped the Buccaneers record six sacks, equaling their highest total in any game over the last six seasons.
McCoy's first sack of the season, the one he split with Woods, occurred in the first quarter, on the first play of San Francisco's third drive. His second was on the 49ers' last offensive play of the game, as he and White denied quarterback Troy Smith an opportunity to throw the ball on fourth-and-two from midfield.
In addition to that sack, McCoy now has 37 tackles, six tackles for loss, 14 quarterback pressures, five passes defensed and one forced fumble through his first 10 NFL games. He ranks second only to White (17) in quarterback pressures among all Buccaneers; the next highest total, six, belongs to defensive end Kyle Moore. McCoy has been particularly productive in recent weeks; over the past three games he has 15 tackles, six quarterback pressures, three tackles for loss and three pass break-ups.
The Bucs continue to pace the rest of the NFL in overall Rookie of the Week Nominations. Tampa Bay's nine are followed by five each for Detroit and Kansas City, and four each for Dallas and New England. At the end of the season, the NFL will nominate five players for its Rookie of the Year award, and fan voting will again make the final selection.