Because of the tragic events of last week, the NFL finally has gotten around to honoring the top players for the opening week of the 2001 regular season, and one of those recognized was Dolphins linebacker Zach Thomas.<P>

Thomas was selected as AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance in the Dolphins' 31-23 victory over the Tennessee Titans.

Thomas scored the Dolphins' last touchdown that night when he returned an interception 34 yards in the fourth quarter. The play helped Thomas set a new Dolphins record for career interceptions for touchdowns with four. Thomas also finished with 12 tackles.

This is the first Defensive Player of the Week award for Thomas. The Dolphins last won this award last November when safety Brian Walker was honored for his performance in a 17-7 victory over San Diego.

Thomas has earned monthly accolades twice in his career — he was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month in October of 1996 and he was named AFC Defensive Player of the Month in September of 1998.

Other AFC honorees for Week 1 were Denver quarterback Brian Griese (offense) and San Diego punt returner Tim Dwight (special teams).

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