In a game that featured 686 passing yards and numerous big plays from both quarterbacks, it was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Josh Freeman who finally ruled the air. In fact, NFL fans may eventually decide that no one in the league had a better aerial day in Week Six than Freeman, who guided the Bucs to a 26-20 win over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.
Freeman is one of three players nominated for the league's Air Player of the Week for Week Six, an award he also won after his final two outings of 2010. As always, fans can choose the winner by visiting NFL.com and placing a vote for one of three nominees. Click here to go to the voting page.
Freeman's competition this week is Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Freeman threw for 303 yards and two touchdowns in the win over New Orleans, which improved the Buccaneers' record to 4-2 and pulled them into a tie for first place in the NFC South with the Saints. Freeman's Week 17 Air Player award last year also came after a victory over the Saints.
Freeman completed 23 of 41 passes in the Bucs' win, and was neither intercepted or sacked. He finished with a quarterback rating of 95.9. The outing included a career-long 65-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Arrelious Benn in the second quarter that gave Tampa Bay a lead they would never relinquish. His 19-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Preston Parker later in the second period completed a 17-point burst that put the Bucs up 20-10 at halftime.
Though the Saints pulled to within three points in the fourth quarter, Freeman clinched the game with two more extended drives. He led the team on a 40-play field goal drive midway through the period that included key strikes of 11 yards to wide receiver Mike Williams and 15 yards to tight end Kellen Winslow, setting up Connor Barth's 38-yard shot. After linebacker Quincy Black intercepted Saints quarterback Drew Brees in the end zone with three minutes remaining in regulation, preserving a six-point lead, Freeman converted a key third-and-nine with a 20-yard pass over the middle to wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe.
Fans have until 12:00 p.m. Eastern time to cast their votes for the Air Player of the Week on NFL.com.