FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Jessie Bates III has done it again.
The Atlanta Falcons safety was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week, the NFL announced Wednesday. Week 12 marks the second time Bates has earned the honor. He also received it after Week 1.
Bates, once again, popped off in the Falcons' 24-15 win over the New Orleans Saints last Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. He scored Atlanta's first and only pick-six this season with a 92-yard interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter.
"It's just simply film study and all the extra meetings that we do, all our coaches with the cut-ups. I give all the props to them," Bates said in the locker room afterward. "Then, it's just me making a play. It's a play they've run and shown on film. I took advantage of it and got my fourth (interception of the season) — for a touchdown, too. It was a very special moment for me for sure."
Bates then forced a fumble in the third quarter that the Falcons' defense recovered and offense turned into a touchdown.
On top of the pair of turnovers, Bates made a game-high 12 tackles.
"(Bates) is special. Let's start off there," Falcons linebacker Kaden Elliss said. "He's outstanding, making big plays."
The victory put the Falcons atop the NFC South standings with a 5-6 record.
Through 11 games, Bates leads the Falcons with 85 tackles, four interceptions and three forced fumbles. The four picks ties Bates' single-season career-high total with six games remaining. The three forced fumble is a new high.
Bates signed with the Falcons this past offseason as a free agent. He had otherwise been with the Cincinnati Bengals since getting selected by them in the second round of the 2018 draft from Wake Forest.
Despite five years of experience, these two Defensive Player of the Week recognitions are the first and second of Bates' career.