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Bethel Johnson named AFC Player of Week 13

Quarterback JAY FIEDLER of the Miami Dolphins, defensive end AARON SCHOBEL of the Buffalo Bills, and rookie kick returner BETHEL JOHNSON of the New England Patriots are the AFC Offensive, Defensive and Special Teams Players of the Week for games played the thirteenth week of the 2003 season (Novembe

Quarterback JAY FIEDLER of the Miami Dolphins, defensive end AARON SCHOBEL of the Buffalo Bills, and rookie kick returner BETHEL JOHNSON of the New England Patriots are the AFC Offensive, Defensive and Special Teams Players of the Week for games played the thirteenth week of the 2003 season (November 27, 30; December 1), the NFL announced today.

On Thanksgiving Day, Fiedler led the Dolphins to a 40-21 victory at Dallas. The eight-year veteran posted a 156.0 passer rating by completing 16 of 20 passes (80.0 percent) for 239 yards and three touchdowns without an interception while also rushing for a touchdown against the NFL's No. 1-ranked defense. The Oceanside, N.Y. native's three scoring strikes tied a career-high, which he had done five times previously. Fiedler, from Dartmouth, is the first Ivy League quarterback to earn Player of the Week honors since Dallas' JASON GARRETT (Week 13, 1994).

The Dolphins (8-4) have now won three games in a row and control their own destiny for a playoff berth.

"Jay has always carried himself with a sense of confidence," says Dolphins head coach DAVE WANNSTEDT. "He has always been a person who does not let outside opinions affect what he is trying to do on the field. That is a real sign of a leader."

All three of Fiedler's touchdown passes (39-, 6- and 35-yards, respectively) were to wide receiver CHRIS CHAMBERS. Fiedler's run for a score - his tenth as a Dolphin - made him the club's all-time leading quarterback in rushing touchdowns. Miami's 40 points were the most scored by the club in 27 games and marked the first time in 10 games that the Cowboys allowed more than 21 points.

This is Fiedler's first career Player of the Week Award.

Buffalo's Schobel was a dominant force Sunday as the Bills earned a 24-7 road win against the New York Giants. The 26-year-old defensive end posted a career-high 3.0 sacks, one shy of the franchise record and the first Buffalo player to register 3.0 sacks since 1998 (defensive tackle PAT WILLIAMS).

Schobel added a tackle for a four-yard loss and a fumble recovery to go with his sack production. A second-round draft selection of Buffalo in 2001, Schobel was a significant part of a Bills defense that allowed only 24 rushing yards - the sixth-fewest in club history - and only one rushing first down.

"We thought going into the ballgame that we had an advantage with our defensive line against their offensive line," says Bills head coach GREGG WILLIAMS. "You can go in and say a lot of those things each and every week but you've got to produce. Our defensive line produced in this ballgame and we needed to see that."

In his third year from TCU, this is Schobel's first career Player of the Week honor.

In a thrilling 38-34 win in Indianapolis, New England's rookie Johnson returned five kickoffs for 192 yards (38.4 average), including a long return of 92 yards for a touchdown on the final play of the first half. The silver-helmeted return man also raced 67 yards on a fourth-quarter kick return to place the Patriots offense on the Colts' 31-yard line. New England (10-2) eventually scored the game-winning touchdown on that drive.

"The credit has to go to the players," says New England head coach BILL BELICHICK when asked how his team is able to close out tight games with victories. "[Bethel] Johnson and the guys out there on the kickoff return team got the ball back at the 31-yard line. Those guys are making big plays in key situations. Good players make big plays in big games. We have a number of them."

The Patriots own the NFL's longest current winning streak of eight games and can clinch the AFC East division title with a win at home against Miami Sunday.

In his first NFL season out of Texas A&M, this is Johnson's first Player of the Week Award.

Other nominees for AFC Offensive Player of Week 13 were:

  • Buffalo quarterback DREW BLEDSOE, who posted his 30th career 100.0 passer rating game (115.9). On three consecutive second-half scoring drives, Bledsoe completed 13 of 17 (76.5 pct.) for 179 yards and two touchdowns.
  • New England quarterback TOM BRADY, who completed a career-high 12 consecutive passes to begin Sunday's game and finished with 26-of-36 passing (74.3 pct.) for 236 yards and two touchdowns against two interceptions.
  • Houston rookie running back DOMANICK DAVIS, who carried the ball 24 times for 101 yards and two touchdowns in a 17-13 win at Atlanta. Davis earned nine of the Texans' 17 first downs.
  • Buffalo running back TRAVIS HENRY, who posted 113 yards on 26 carries (4.3 avg.) and became the team's 5th all-time leading rusher (3,137), surpassing COOKIE GILCHRIST (3,056).
  • Kansas City running back PRIEST HOLMES, who amassed 186 scrimmage yards (162 rushing, 24 receiving) and chalked up his 16th and NFL-best 17th rushing touchdowns of the year in a 28-24 win at San Diego.
  • Cincinnati quarterback JON KITNA, who posted a 115.5 passer rating and three touchdown passes without an interception on 18-of-32 passing (56.3 pct.) for 271 yards in a come-from-behind 24-20 win at Pittsburgh.
  • Jacksonville rookie quarterback BYRON LEFTWICH, who completed 20 of 34 passes (58.8 pct.) for 224 yards and a pair of touchdowns without an interception for a 98.2 passer rating in a 17-10 win over Tampa Bay.
  • New York quarterback CHAD PENNINGTON, who generated a 101.3 passer rating on 18 of 23 passes (78.2 pct.) for 231 yards with two touchdowns against two interceptions a Monday night 24-17 victory versus Tennessee. Pennington completed both of his touchdown passes in the second half where he was 8-for-8 for 134 yards.
  • Denver running back CLINTON PORTIS, who ran the ball a career-best 34 times for an NFL Week 13-best 170 yards (5.0 avg.) and two touchdowns in a 22-8 win on the road against Oakland.
  • Jacksonville wide receiver JIMMY SMITH, who caught 10 passes for 137 yards, including a game-winning 48-yard touchdown reception. Smith (707) now stands 16th on the league's all-time reception leader chart.
  • Pittsburgh wide receiver HINES WARD, who registered a career-high 13 catches for 149 yards and a late go-ahead touchdown. Ward's 13 receptions in one game account for the second-most in club history (COURTNEY HAWKINS, 14, 1998)
  • Baltimore quarterback ANTHONY WRIGHT, who passed for two touchdowns against one interception in a 44-6 win over San Francisco. Wright completed 14 of 25 passes for 177 yards (56.0 pct.) and ran for two first downs.

Other nominees for AFC Defensive Player of Week 13 were:

  • New England linebacker TEDY BRUSCHI, who led the team with 12 tackles, including two game-saving stops on a last-minute goal line stand. Bruschi also notched two passes defensed.
  • Baltimore linebacker RAY LEWIS, who racked up 18 tackles and two passes defensed, including an interception that he returned 29 yards for his first career touchdown.
  • Miami defensive end ADEWALE OGUNLEYE, who posted 2.0 sacks, a forced fumble that a defensive teammate returned for a TD, three quarterback hurries and four tackles. Ogunleye is now tied for the NFL sack lead (12.0).
  • Pittsburgh rookie safety TROY POLAMALU, who delivered his first career sack and recorded four tackles.
  • Houston linebacker JAMIE SHARPER, who notched his fourth sack of the season and collected 10 tackles.
  • Miami linebacker ZACH THOMAS, who chalked up eight tackles, an interception and 1.0 sack. Thomas' interception was the 14th of his career, tying EARNIE RHONE for the most ever by a Dolphins linebacker.
  • Kansas City safety GREG WESLEY, who had one interception and six tackles.

Other nominees for AFC Special Teams Player of Week 13 were:

  • Baltimore punt returner LAMONT BRIGHTFUL, who returned two punts for 100 yards, including a 75-yard return, which led to a Ravens score.
  • Kansas City punt returner-kick returner DANTE HALL, who had four kickoff returns for 90 yards (22.5 avg.).
  • Pittsburgh punter JOSH MILLER, who averaged 55.3 yards on three punts, including a season-long of 69 yards. Miller posted a 44.3 net average and only two of his punts were returned for a total of 13 yards.
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