Barber Wins NFC Defensive POTW

December 26 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback took a huge step towards his first Pro Bowl berth on Wednesday by winning another NFC Defensive Player of the Week award for his three-interception performance against New Orleans on Sunday.

On the heels of his three-interception day against the New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Ronde Barber seems one step closer to earning his first Pro Bowl berth. But before he makes any travel plans to Hawaii, Barber will collect another award first.

On Wednesday, Barber was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his three-interception, three-tackle performance against the Saints in the Bucs' big 48-21 win on Sunday. Barber also had three passes defensed against New Orleans and returned his last interception 37 yards for a touchdown to put an exclamation point on the victory.

For the year, Barber has 84 tackles, one sack, seven tackles for loss, 24 passes defensed and one blocked punt. But the big statistic for cornerbacks is interceptions, and he has a bunch of them. Nine to be exact, which is tied for the league lead with Cleveland rookie Anthony Henry and Arizona's Kwamie Lassiter. Barber's nine picks ties Cedric Brown for the most in a single season in Tampa Bay, and is also a career high for the fifth-year pro out of Virginia. In fact, Barber entered the 2001 season with only six career interceptions.

"He's had an exceptional year," Bucs head coach Tony Dungy said. "It probably started last year where he made a lot of big plays. He had some opportunities where he is playing inside in the nickel and also on the corner. He's worked at it, everything he's gotten it's because he works hard and he studies and prepares and plays hard. Some of the time, you don't get a chance to intercept nine or 10 balls but he's taken advantage of his opportunities and he hustles. He's around the ball a lot, and when you are, good things happen."

Barber also won the NFC Defensive Player of the Week award after his Week 11 performance against the Detroit Lions in which he had two interceptions.

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