Josh Freeman has a chance to repeat as the NFL's "Air" Player of the Week.
Following his latest stellar outing in New Orleans, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback has been nominated for that award for the 17th and final week of the 2010 regular season. His competitors are Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts and Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons.
Freeman won the same award for Week 16 after his five-touchdown performance against the Seattle Seahawks. Buccaneers running back LeGarrette Blount also won the NFL's "Ground" Player of the Week award after the Seattle game, making those two the first pair of teammates to sweep those honors in the same week in 2010.
Freeman could blaze another trail if he wins the Week 17 award. No player has won either the Air or Ground award in back-to-back weeks this season. To become the first, he'll need to win a fan vote on NFL.com that began on Monday and will continue through Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. ET.
Click here to go to NFL.com and cast your vote. You can watch video of each nominee's Week 17 performance on the balloting page.
On the final Sunday of the regular season, Freeman led the Buccaneers to a 23-13 victory over the playoff-bound and defending-champion New Orleans Saints, marking the second straight season he has started and won in the Superdome. He completed 21 of 26 passes (80.8%) for 255 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a passer rating of 133.2.
In the second quarter, Freeman gave the Buccaneers a 10-7 lead with a remarkable touch pass to the back right corner of the end zone, where rookie receiver Dezmon Briscoe made a toe-tapping TD grab. In the third quarter, he increased Tampa Bay's lead to 10 points with an 18-yard touchdown pass to rookie wideout Mike Williams on which Freeman faked a fourth-down sneak and then backed up and lobbed a pass over Saints cornerback Jabari Greer. With the Bucs holding on to a seven-point lead in the fourth quarter, Freeman essentially sealed the game with a 54-yard pass to Briscoe on third-and-six from the Bucs' 14, setting up the third of Connor Barth's three field goals.
It's no surprise to see Freeman garner consecutive Air Player nominations. He has been, simply, the NFL's best passer down the stretch. Over the last four weeks of the season, the second-year star completed 78 of 109 passes (71.6%) for 1,009 yards, nine touchdowns and no interceptions. That produced a 127.8 passer rating that was best in the league over that span, even topping New England's Tom Brady (116.2).