BIRMINGHAM DB DUANE BUTLER HONORED AS DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK; SAVES WIN FOR BOLTS WITH LATE 98-YARD INTERCEPTION FOR TD
STAMFORD, CONN. (Tuesday, February 20, 2001) - The XFL today named San Francisco Demons running back Terry Battle as its Offensive Player of the Week and Birmingham Thunderbolts safety Duane Butler as its Defensive Player of the Week for week three.
Battle, who was on the Demons' practice squad for the first two games, was activated for the first time in week three and responded with a two-touchdown performance to lead San Francisco to a 13-6 win in Memphis on Saturday night. The tailback racked up 145 all-purpose yards on six carries for 35 yards, five catches for 54 yards and two kickoff returns for 56 yards.
Battle had been on the Demons' practice squad for the first two games, but was activated before the game to fill the roster spot vacated when TE Brian Roche was placed on injured reserve with a season-ending achilles tendon injury.
"Terry really isn't a practice squad player, he's always been in our plans," said Demons head coach Jim Skipper. "It came down last week that we wanted to get as many playmakers as we could in the lineup. Football is a team sport, but Terry had as much to do with us winning that game as any individual. It shows if you hang in there and work hard and you're ready when opportunity knocks, good things happen."
Birmingham's Butler saved a 14-3 win for the Bolts on Sunday with his late, 98-yard interception return for a touchdown. The XFL's longest interception return to date came with Birmingham leading 7-3 but Chicago driving deep in Bolts' territory looking to win the game with less than two minutes to play.
Enforcers QB Tim Lester threw a pass intended for Tyji Armstrong, but the tight end could only get one hand on the high pass, tipping it towards the sideline. It was at the two-yard line where Butler got to the ball and took off sprinting to the endzone, escorted by several teammates, as the home crowd celebrated and the public address system began blaring "Sweet Home Alabama" while Butler was still 15 yards from the end zone.
"I got to the ball and took off running and then everything just got so loud and everybody just kind of looked the same," Butler said. "I was running down the sideline and I turned around and saw (teammate) Eric Sloan and thought he was from the other team, so I kind of sped up again. But then I realized it was him and so I slowed down and just started bumpin' to the music."
On top of the big play, Butler also recorded nine tackles and broke up two passes in leading the Bolts' defense, which gave up just the single field goal on the day.
Runner-up for offensive honors was San Francisco QB Mike Pawlawski. The XFL's leading passer led the Demons to the important road win by throwing for two scores with no interceptions and a total of 221 yards passing.
The runner-up for defensive player of the week was Chicago LB Aaron Humphrey, who recorded 11 tackles at linebacker after playing DT in the first two games.