Running back LA DAINIAN TOMLINSON of the San Diego Chargers, defensive end JEVON KEARSE of the Tennessee Titans and defensive end RICHARD SEYMOUR of the New England Patriots are the AFC Offensive, Defensive and Special Teams Players of the Week for games played the seventh week of the 2003 season (October 19-20), the NFL announced today.
Resembling the lightning bolt on his helmet, Tomlinson was a pure power source in San Diego's 26-20 victory at Cleveland for its first win of the season (1-5). The third-year pro rushed 26 times for 200 yards (7.7 average) and one touchdown, which came on a career-long 70-yard run in the third quarter. The 5-11, 221-pound ball carrier has now reached 200 yards three times in his career and owns two of the top three single-game rushing totals on the season (Wk. 7, 200 at Cleveland; Wk. 4, 187 at Oakland).
"He's a very special player and a very special person," says Chargers head coach MARTY SCHOTTENHEIMER. "The guy has as big a heart as any player I've ever been around."
Tomlinson churned for 143 yards in the second half, with 51 coming in the fourth quarter. On San Diego's final 14-play drive as the team led 23-20, Tomlinson touched the ball eight times, including an 11-yard reception on 2nd and 12 from Cleveland's 44-yard line and a five-yard rush on 4th and 1 on the Browns' 33. The drive resulted in a field goal for the final margin of victory and consumed nearly eight minutes.
From TCU, this is Tomlinson's third Player of the Week Award, tying him with Hall of Fame quarterback DAN FOUTS for the most AFC Offensive Player of the Week Awards earned by a Charger.
In handing the Carolina Panthers their first defeat of the season, 37-17 at Carolina, Tennessee's Kearse totaled six tackles, 1.0 sack and forced a fumble which a teammate returned for a touchdown. The Fort Meyers, Fla. native was part of a stout defensive front that limited the Panthers to 44 rushing yards while posting four sacks. Prior to Sunday, Carolina possessed the NFL's No. 2 rushing attack with a previous single-game rushing low of 122 yards.
"It feels really good, not just for me, but for the whole team," says Kearse on his Week 7 honor. "I'm getting a feeling like we're back to the same team we were in '99 (AFC Champions). I see us on that level, maybe even a little bit better."
The Titans (5-2) scored 20 of their 37 points off of turnovers Sunday and remain half of a game behind Indianapolis in the AFC South.
In his fifth year out of Florida, this is Kearse's first Player of the Week Award.
The Patriots' Seymour blocked a critical 35-yard field goal attempt with 2:00 remaining at Miami with the score tied, 13-13. Seymour's block forced overtime where New England eventually prevailed in "sudden death," 19-13. With the victory - the team's first-ever September or October win in Miami in 13 tries - the Patriots own a 5-2 record to lead the AFC East.
"Richard is certainly one the best defensive lineman in the league," says Patriots head coach BILL BELICHICK. "He has done a great job for us. He has got a lot of skill and he shows up in the kicking game. His game has gotten to a more consistent level this year."
In his third season from Georgia, this is the 6-6, 310-pound defensive lineman's first Player of the Week Award.