Shaquil Barrett has played 32 regular-season games at Denver's Empower Field at Mile High. The most recent one was his first as a visitor, and it was perhaps his best game ever at that venue. It certainly had to be the most satisfying.
On Wednesday, the NFL named Barrett the NFC Defensive Player of the Week for Week Three of the 2020 season, following his impressive homecoming performance in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 28-10 win over his former team, the Broncos. It is the second time Barrett has won the award since leaving Denver and signing with the Buccaneers as an unrestricted free agent in 2019.
In his first game against the team for which he played from 2015-18, Barrett recorded two sacks, six tackles, three tackles for loss and two quarterback hits. One of those sacks occurred in the end zone, resulting in the Buccaneers' first safety since 2016. Barrett led a six-sack effort by the Buccaneers' defense, which limited Denver to 226 total yards and just one touchdown drive.
Barrett's safety in the third quarter improved the Bucs' lead to 25-10 and obviously ended that Denver drive. His other sack, in the second quarter, cost the Broncos 12 yards, leading to a third-and-13, and on the next play Barrett stopped running back Melvin Gordon for a two-yard loss to force a punt. Barrett also ended another drive in the second quarter with a tackle of tight end Noah Fant on third-and-15.
Barrett originally entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Broncos in 2014. He spent one year on the practice squad before making the active roster in 2015 and settling into a rotational role as an edge-rusher. When he became a free agent in 2019, he sought a starting opportunity elsewhere in the NFL and found it in Tampa on a one-year deal as an unrestricted free agent. The results were sensational.
In his first season as a Buccaneer, Barrett shattered Warren Sapp's single-season franchise sack record and led the NFL with 19.5 sacks. That included a three-sack performance in a Week Two win at Carolina that earned him his first NFC Defensive Player of the Week Award. Barrett finished his first month as a Buccaneer with nine sacks and was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Month for September.
Barrett's selection is the first Player of the Week award for the Buccaneers in 2020. The last player prior to Barrett to win the Defensive Player of the Week award was Lavonte David in Week 11 of the 2015 season. Barrett joins David, Ronde Barber, Derrick Brooks, Hardy Nickerson, Simeon Rice and Warren Sapp as Buccaneers who have won multiple Defensive Player of the Week awards.