Mike Edwards named NFC Defensive Player of the Week
TAMPA, Fl (Scott Smith, Bucs Writer) – Mike Edwards did something no other NFL player had done in almost 30 years. The result is the first major award of his young career.
On Wednesday, Edwards was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week for Week Two of the 2021 season. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ third-year safety was honored after sealing the Buccaneers’ 48-25 victory over the Atlanta Falcons with two interception-return touchdowns in the fourth quarter of their Week Two matchup.
In turning what had become a tense game into a 23-point decision, Edwards became the first NFL player with two pick-sixes in the fourth quarter of a game since the Phoenix Cardinals’ Robert Massey pulled off the same feat against Washington on October 4, 1992. Edwards was also the first player with two interception return touchdowns in a single game since 2012.
The Buccaneers entered the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game with a slim three-point lead over the visiting Falcons. After Tom Brady’s 13-yard touchdown pass to Chris Godwin made it a 10-point game, the Falcons got the ball back at their own 25 with nine minutes left in the game. Three plays later, Edwards jumped a short pass intended for wide receiver Russell Gage, briefly juggled the ball and then dashed 35 yards for the first touchdown of his career.
Edwards wouldn’t have to wait long for the second score of his career. Four minutes later, he and cornerback Carlton Davis blitzed off the edges and Davis was able to bat Matt Ryan’s pass into the air. Edwards hauled it in and loped 15 yards into the end zone for the game’s final points. Edwards is just the third player in franchise history to have two pick-sixes in the same game. Dwight Smith first pulled it off in Super Bowl XXXVII against the Oakland Raiders and Ronde Barber did the same in a 23-21 win over the Philadelphia Eagles in 2006.
Edwards is just the 27th player in NFL history to record two pick-sixes in a single regular season game. He is the first Buccaneer to win NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors in 2021, but that award has not been uncommon in Tampa in recent seasons. Inside linebacker Devin White won it twice in 2020 and outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett won it once in each of the past two seasons. This is the second weekly award given to a Bucs player in the first two weeks of the 2021 campaign, as punter Bradley Pinion was the choice on special teams in Week One.