Harper named NFC Defensive Player of the Week

Safety Roman Harper, whose interception and 31-yard return for a touchdown helped the Carolina Panthers begin to pull away from the Atlanta Falcons in their Week 17 showdown for the NFC South championship, has been named NFC Defensive Player of the Week.

Carolina led 10-3 late in the second quarter when Harper picked off a Matt Ryan pass and then picked his way down the sideline for the score. The Panthers forced another turnover before halftime to set up another touchdown, then rookie safety Tre Boston's 84-yard interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter sealed a 34-3 victory that propelled the Panthers to the playoffs for the second consecutive season.

In addition to the pick six, the second of his career - also a 31-yard return at Atlanta in 2007 - Harper recorded six tackles against the Falcons.

This marks the third time in Harper's nine-year NFL career that he has earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors. He previously won the award while with the New Orleans Saints, both coming in 2011. Versus Chicago in Week 2, Harper produced six tackles, equaled his career high with two sacks and notched one pass defensed. At Atlanta in Week 10, he accumulated a career-high 16 tackles to go along with one sack and one pass defensed.

Signed as an unrestricted free agent by Carolina this past offseason after spending his first eight seasons with New Orleans, Harper led the Panthers with career-high four interceptions and ranked third on the team with 57 tackles and eight passes defensed.

Harper becomes the second Panther to be named NFC Player of the Week during the 2014 season, joining quarterback Cam Newton - who garnered offensive player of the week recognition for Week 14.

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