Game Ball of the Week: Ronde Barber

Ronde Barber was just named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for the eighth time in his career, which gives me a perfect opportunity to hand him the Game Ball of the Week. 

On Sunday, Ronde Barber was all over the field. He recovered Matt Ryan's first-quarter fumble on Dekoda Watson's sack. He intercepted Matt Ryan after E.J. Biggers tipped the ball in the final drive of the first half. IN addition, the 36-year old veteran had three pass defenses, four tackles and one tackle for loss. 

 

Barber managed to shut down TE Tony Gonzalez for almost the entire game, as he was frequently in man coverage on the veteran tight end. Besides that he stood out a number of times in his ability to sniff out plays. He tackled Julio Jones on an end-around for a -9 yard loss, essentially killing that drive. 

At the start of the fourth quarter the veteran had a series of incredible plays. With a first down on the Bucs' 14-yard line Matt Ryan first attempted a quick screen to Roddy White, but Barber was right there to deflect the ball. In fact, Barber almost intercepted the pass. On the very next pass Barber prevented Ryan from hitting Tony Gonzalez over the middle, and on third-and-ten the cornerback stopped Julio Jones short on a first down. That sequence was crucial in stopping the Atlanta Falcons on that drive. 

Ronde Barber is now in his fifteenth year in the NFL and while he has steadily slowed down he is still a valuable part of the defense. His incredible career is only getting longer, as the Buccaneer owns the consecutive starts record for active players, as well as for cornerbacks all-time. His already impressive career keeps getting more impressive, and with each passing game his chances of ending up in the Hall of Fame go up. Hopefully he'll get there some day. 
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