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Patriots WR Deion Branch and others candidates for Pepsi NFL Rookie of Week Honors

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Defensive tackle ROCKY BERNARD of the Seattle Seahawks, wide receiver DEION BRANCH of the New England Patriots, cornerback PHILLIP BUCHANON of the Oakland Raiders, quarterback JOEY HARRINGTON of the Detroit Lions and safety ED REED of the Baltimore Ravens are the finalists for PEPSI NFL ROOKIE OF THE WEEK honors for games played on September 29-30, the NFL announced today.
Fans can vote for one of these five players on from Tuesday morning through Wednesday afternoon to determine the PEPSI NFL ROOKIE OF THE WEEK. The PEPSI NFL ROOKIE OF THE WEEK will be announced Thursday on It is the first weekly NFL honor to be selected solely by NFL fans.

After the regular season, five players will be nominated for Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year honors. Fans can vote for the winner on throughout the month of January. The winner will be announced at a press conference at Super Bowl XXXVII in San Diego.

A closer look at the finalists:

  • Seattle's Rocky Bernard recorded nine tackles and two sacks in the Seahawks' 48-23 win over Minnesota. Bernard now leads Seattle and is tied for fourth in the league with four sacks. His second sack of the game came in the fourth quarter on third-and-seven with Minnesota on the Seattle 21. The quarterback drop put the Vikings in a fourth-and-20 situation.
  • New England's Deion Branch had game-high 13 receptions for 128 yards and four yards on one carry in the Patriots' 21-14 loss to San Diego. Branch' 13 receptions tie for second all-time in New England annals for catches in a single game, are the most ever by a Patriots rookie receiver and are the most in a game by a rookie since LaDainian Tomlinson had 13 on Nov. 25, 2001.
  • Oakland's Phillip Buchanon had seven tackles, an interception, two passes defensed, scored on an 83-yard punt return and pitched the ball to Terry Kirby for a 79-yard score on another punt return in the Raiders' 52-25 win over the Tennessee Titans. Buchanon's interception was the first of his career and came in the fourth quarter.
  • Detroit's Joey Harrington completed 20 of 35 attempts for 267 yards and a touchdown for a 91.0 passer rating in the Lions' 26-21 win over New Orleans. Harrington, starting his second career game, led Detroit to its first win this season over a previously unbeaten New Orleans team. Harrington's 38-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Bill Schroeder in the second quarter gave the Lions a 20-0 lead.
  • Baltimore's Ed Reed recorded four tackles, an interception, one pass defensed and blocked a punt in the Ravens' 34-23 win over the Denver Broncos. Reed's punt block came in the second quarter on the Denver 16. The ball was recovered by Baltimore on the Denver 13 and led to the Ravens' second touchdown of the night, giving Baltimore a 14-3 lead. Reed's interception came in the fourth quarter at the Baltimore three yard-line with the Ravens leading 34-16. This is Pepsi's first year as the official soft drink sponsor of the NFL.
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