Dwight Smith fell just short of a couple of franchise marks for interception returns, but his one-touchdown, two-interception performance was enough to earn him the NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.
Smith's two interceptions accounted for 14 points in Sunday's 41-17 win over the Giants. He returned his second interception 93 yards for a touchdown, and his 112 yards in interception returns registered as second-most in team history.
This is the first time Smith has won the honor and he is the first Vikings defender to earn it this season. Cornerback Cedric Griffin was honored for his game at Detroit in 2006 and Darren Sharper earned the award for his performance the last time the Vikings visited the Giants in 2005.
Sharper's 123 yards on three interception returns in the 2005 win at Giants Stadium is the franchise record with Smith now in second on that single-game list. Reggie Rutland (1991 vs. L.A. Rams) holds the single-interception return mark of 97 yards. Smith's 93-yarder is third on the list, behind Rutland and Walker Lee Ashley's 94-yarder against the Chicago Bears in 1988.
"Dwight's just a pillar, a guy that's going to go out each and every game and play hard. He's a vocal leader for us – very knowledgeable of the game and the system that we're running," Sharper said on Monday. "He's a great player to play beside, probably the most entertaining player I've played beside since LeRoy Butler. (Smith) is a playmaker, too. You can see just off of what he did (against the Giants) and throughout his career, he's a guy that can make plays."
Smith's interceptions at New York give him 22 for his regular-season career and eight since joining the Vikings as a free agent in 2006. He burst onto the NFL scene in 2002 when he had four picks in the regular season and three more in the playoffs, including setting a Super Bowl record with two TDs on interception returns for Tampa Bay against Oakland in Super Bowl XXXVII.
Smith Earns NFC Defensive Honors
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