November was a good month for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who rode a hot streak out of the previous month, won three of four contests and forced themselves into the thick of the NFC playoff hunt. It was a particularly good month for linebackers Lavonte David and Dekoda Watson, both of whom have new trophies for their mantle after a quartet of strong outings.
David has been named the NFL Defensive Player of the Month for November, while Watson has won the NFC Special Teams Player of the Month award. David is the first Buccaneer ever to win that particular award, while Watson is the team's first special teams honoree since 1998.
In October, the NFL named running back Doug Martin the league's Offensive Rookie of the Month. This is obviously the first time the Buccaneers have had a rookie monthly award winner on both sides of the ball, and they are only the fourth team ever to accomplish that double feature.
David, the Buccaneers' second-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, was one of the most impactful linebackers in the NFL in November, rookie or not. He rang up 47 tackles in November, the most by any player in the league. His four "stuffs" (tackles on a running play behind the line of scrimmage) tied for the league lead in November, and he had five tackles for loss overall, giving him an incredible 14 on the season.
Watson had two special teams tackles in November but his most memorable play actually in the kicking game actually produced a touchdown. In a 34-24 win over San Diego in Week 10, Watson blocked an attempted punt by Mike Scifres, rejecting the attempt so thoroughly that the ball landed at the punters' feet. Fellow linebacker Adam Hayward scooped it up and raced 29 yards for the score. Watson, who ranks second on the team with five kick-coverage stops, also recovered a fumbled punt by Carolina's Captain Munnerlyn in Week 11, setting up Tampa Bay's first touchdown in a 27-21 overtime victory.
David takes home the eighth Rookie of the Month award by a Buccaneer, though six of the previous seven were on offense and the seventh was for special teams work. This is just the second time two different Buccaneers won Rookie of the Month honors in the same season; Mike Alstott (offense) and Karl Williams (special teams) accomplished that feat in 1996. Cadillac Williams also won two offensive awards by himself in 2005.
Watson is the Bucs' first NFC Special Teams Player of the Month winner since Clifton Smith in November of 2008. Tampa Bay players have now won that award eight times since 1996, but Watson is the first player on the list who is not a kicker or a kick returner. All of the other special teams monthly winners this season in both conferences have been either kickers or return men.