OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Cam Newton / QB / Carolina Panthers
The Falcons had no answer for Newton in Carolina’s 30-20 win, which was Newton’s first career victory over his hometown team in four tries. “I think this game allows me to have a little chip on my shoulder,” the second-year quarterback said after scoring three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing). Newton completed 23-of-35 passes for 287 yards with TD passes of 25 and 53 yards. However, the highlight that will be played over and over again was his 72-yard run for a score on a zone-read option play, which gave the Panthers a 23-0 lead over the NFC South-champion Falcons. Newton rushed for a career-high 116 yards on nine rushes (12.9 average) and gave Panthers fans something to smile about in what has been a disappointing season for the club.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Stevie Brown / S / New York Giants
Brown’s breakout season took a historic turn in Week 14. He set a Giants record for interception-return yardage after adding 91 more to his total (now 259 for the season) on two picks in the Giants’ 52-27 win over the Saints. Brown forced a fumble that was recovered by teammate Antrel Rolle in the first quarter, too, but his two picks — one in the third quarter and one in the fourth quarter — really grounded a Saints team that was trying to battle its way into the game after falling behind. “(Brown) was in position again, the one he picked in the fourth quarter, boy was that timing right,” Giants head coach Tom Coughlin said. “They had flipped the momentum on us almost completely. We weren’t doing much about it at that time. But thank goodness he makes that play and we end up kicking a field goal.”
SPECIAL-TEAMS PLAYER OF THE WEEK
David Wilson / RB / New York Giants
Wilson starred on offense (100 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 13 carries) and special teams for the Giants as they fought to keep their lead in the NFC East. They were on their heels early, when Saints CB Elbert Mack returned an interception 73 yards for a touchdown to put the Saints on the board first. Wilson returned the ensuing kickoff 97 yards to tie the score, though, and he continued to give the Giants good field position throughout the game — the Giants’ average drive start was the Saints’ 49-yard line. Wilson, a rookie, finished with four kickoff returns for 227 yards (56.8 average) and became the first player in NFL history with 200 kickoff return yards and 100 rushing yards in a single game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. He also set a Giants single-season record for kickoff-return yards (1,321) on Sunday.