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Thursday, October 2, 2003
Manning, Culpepper, Hall among NFL Players of Month

NEW YORK - Quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Daunte Culpepper and returner Dante Hall are all on unbeaten teams. They also are among the NFL Players of the Month.

Manning did nearly a month's work in one night, passing for six touchdowns in the Indianapolis Colts' 55-21 win over the New Orleans Saints last Sunday. That probably was enough to earn Manning AFC Offensive Player of the Month honors. The last quarterback to throw six touchdowns in one game was Washington's Mark Rypien on November 10, 1991.

Manning directed the Colts to a 4-0 record in September, passing for 914 yards and nine touchdowns with three interceptions for a quarterback rating of 103.7. It is the first monthly award for Manning, who is in his sixth year with the Colts.

Culpepper led the Minnesota Vikings to three of their four wins in a 4-0 September and earned the NFC Offensive Player of the Month award. He completed 42-of-69 passes for 514 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions for a 108.0 passer rating, second-highest in the NFL.

Culpepper also rushed for 83 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries for his first monthly award.

Hall is probably the biggest contributor to the Kansas City Chiefs' 4-0 start. He became the first player in NFL history to return kicks for touchdowns three consecutive weeks and was the easy choice for AFC Special Teams Player of the Month after winning the Player of the Week award three straight times.

Hall returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown in a 41-20 win over Pittsburgh in Week Two, scored on a 73-yard punt return in a 42-14 victory at Houston in Week Three and sprinted for a 97-yard touchdown in a 17-10 win over Baltimore last Sunday.

Cornerback Marcus Coleman of the Houston Texans and defensive end Mike Rucker of the Carolina Panthers were honored as the AFC and NFC Defensive Players of the Month, respectively.

Coleman leads the AFC with four interceptions and recorded 21 tackles in the Texans' four games.

Rucker has been a vital cog in the Panthers' 3-0 start, including wins over NFC South rivals Tampa Bay and Atlanta. He has five sacks along with 19 tackles, seven quarterback hurries and one forced fumble. Rucker tied a career-high with three sacks in the Panthers' 24-23 win over Jacksonville.

Kicker Jeff Wilkins of the St. Louis Rams was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Month. He leads the NFC with 40 points, connecting on 10-of-11 field goal attempts and 10-of-10 extra points.