Running back COREY DILLONof the New England Patriots, defensive end DWIGHT FREENEY of the Indianapolis Colts, and kicker JEFF REED of the Pittsburgh Steelers are the AFC Offensive, Defensive and Special Teams Players of the Month for December, the NFL announced today.
OFFENSE: RB COREY DILLON, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTSIn five December-January games, New England's Dillon rushed 109 times for a 102.8-yard-per-game average and six touchdowns (five rushing) to help the Patriots go 4-1 in that span and earn a second-consecutive AFC East Division title. Dillon posted three 100-yard rushing performances in his team's final five games and totaled no less than 88 yards rushing in his other two outings. His 116 rushing yards and touchdown on only 14 carries in a Week 17 victory against San Francisco was his ninth 100-yard game of the season to tie a franchise record and also earned him a club-record and career-high 1,635 yards rushing for the season. On the year, the 6-1, 225-pound back tied his career-high in touchdowns (13) and also tied the third-greatest single-season touchdown output by a Patriots player.
In his eighth year from Washington, this is Dillon's first career Player of the Month Award.
DEFENSE: DE DWIGHT FREENEY, INDIANAPOLIS COLTSFor December and January, Indianapolis' Freeney had 15 tackles, 9.0 sacks for 72 yards, 12 quarterback pressures, one pass defensed and two forced fumbles en route to becoming the 2004 NFL sack leader with 16.0 on the season. Freeney had a sack in all four December games (vs. Tennessee, at Houston, vs. Baltimore and vs. San Diego) including consecutive 3.0-sack games against Tennessee and at Houston, marking his second career four-game sack streak. The 6-1, 268-pounder set a new club record for sacks in a season (16.0), snapping his previous record of 13.0 set in his rookie year (2002). Freeney became the first Colts player to lead the NFL in sacks since the category became official in 1982 and was selected to his second consecutive Pro Bowl in December. The 24-year-old Hartford, Connecticut native has 40.0 career sacks, ranking third all-time among NFL players for the most sacks in the first three seasons of a career (REGGIE WHITE, 52; DERRICK THOMAS, 43.5).
In his third year from Syracuse, this is the first Player of the Month distinction for Freeney.
SPECIAL TEAMS: K JEFF REED, PITTSBURGH STEELERSPittsburgh's Reed was a perfect 13-for-13 in field goal attempts in the Steelers' last five games to help the team win all five of those contests and secure home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. Reed started the month by making a game-winning kick at Jacksonville with 23 seconds left in regulation for 17-16 win. The journalism major from North Carolina was a flawless four-for-four in Week 15 for a 33-30 road win against the New York Giants and was five-for-five in a 29-24 Week 17 victory at Buffalo to upend the Bills. Reed, who never kicked a football competitively until his junior college season, also boomed kickoffs for touchbacks in three of the Steelers' five December-January games.
In his third NFL season, this is Reed's second-career Player of the Month Award (December 2002).
2004 AFC PLAYERS OF THE MONTHOffense
SeptemberWR Hines Ward, Pittsburgh
S Eugene Wilson, New England
KR Reuben Droughns, Denver
OctoberRB Priest Holmes, Kansas City
DE John Abraham, New York
KR-PR B.J. Sams, Baltimore
NovemberQB Peyton Manning, Indianapolis
S Ed Reed, Baltimore
K Adam Vinatieri, New England
DecemberRB Corey Dillon, New England
DE Dwight Freeney, Indianapolis
K Jeff Reed, Pittsburgh