Ronde Barber now has more defensive touchdowns than any other active players in the NFL
Almost exactly 10 years after he did it the first time, Ronde Barber has done it again. No one in Tampa Bay Buccaneers history has done it more often.
On Wednesday, the NFL named Barber the NFC Defensive Player of the Week for Week 11. It marks the eighth time that Barber has taken home that award, beginning with his first in Week 13 of the 1998 season.
The Buccaneers' veteran cornerback was named Player of the Week for the first time in 2008, not coincidentally coinciding with his first two interceptions of the season. Barber picked off two Daunte Culpepper passes in Tampa Bay's 38-20 comeback win at Detroit at Sunday, returning the second one 65 yards for the game's final touchdown. Barber also collected three tackles and two passes defensed and helped the Buccaneers' second-ranked pass defense hold the Lions to 99 net passing yards.
This is Barber's first Player of the Week award since Week Seven of the 2006 season. He also won it for the NFC Championship Game week in 2002 and was similarly honored twice in 2001 (Weeks Nine and 15) and once in 200 (Week Two). He is the second Buccaneer to take the defensive award this season, as linebacker Derrick Brooks was the NFC choice in Week Four. Two Bucs have also snared NFC Special Teams Player of the Week awards this year – kicker Matt Bryant in Week Four and running back Clifton Smith in Week Nine.
Barber's eight Player of the Week awards is the most every by a Buccaneer. The offensive and defensive weekly awards were first instituted by the NFL in 1984 and the special teams award was added in 1993. Brooks is next with six Player of the Week awards. Kicker Martin Gramatica holds the team's record for special teams honors with five such awards and quarterback Brad Johnson tops the offensive chart with three.
It's not surprising to see Brooks and Barber at the top of the list. Barber's interception-return touchdown in Detroit was the eighth of his career (including the playoffs), giving him one more than Brooks. Barber, who has a franchise-record 35 career interceptions, also got his 23rd career sack the previous week and is one of only seven players in NFL history to have at amass at least 20 interceptions and 20 sacks.
Against Detroit, Barber's latest heroics helped spark a rally and then finish a surprising blowout.
Tampa Bay trailed the Lions 17-0 before the first quarter was over on Sunday. The visiting Bucs then rallied for 21 points in the second quarter to take the lead at halftime. After touchdowns by Warrick Dunn and Ike Hilliard had pulled the Buccaneers within three points, Barber darted in front of wide receiver Shaun McDonald on a third-down pass and grabbed his first pick of the season. Barber juggled but held onto the ball as he fell onto his back, thwarting McDonald's attempt to break up the interception. The Buccaneers scored on the next play to take their first lead of the game.
In the third quarter, he again cut in front of McDonald, this time near the left sideline. Barber caught the ball with his outstretched hands, landed with both feet inbounds and stayed in fair territory as he turned upfield. He had to get around Culpepper in order to get into the end zone, but Barber accomplished that with an inside-outside fake at full speed that got the quarterback turned around.
The resulting touchdown was Barber's 11th defensive score in regular-season play, making him the active leader in that category among all NFL players. He had been tied with Minnesota safety Darren Sharper at 10 each. Barber is also third on the NFL's all-time list of defensive touchdowns, trailing only Rod Woodson (13) and Aeneas Williams (12).