PERFECT TIMING

A year ago, Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney sustained a season-ending foot injury in San Diego in early November. On Thursday, he was named the AFC's Defensive Player of the Month after a November in which he had five sacks and two forced fumbles.

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November 2008 A Memorable Month for Freeney
INDIANAPOLIS – The special nature of the honor wasn't lost on Dwight Freeney.

The irony of the timing wasn't either.

Freeney, the Colts' three-time Pro Bowl defensive end and the franchise's all-time career sacks leader, on Thursday was named AFC Defensive Player of the Month for November, marking the third time in his career he has received the honor.

What was notable, too, for Freeney was when it came, because last November was the month he hopped from a wet field in San Diego with a foot injury that ended his season.

This year's November, Freeney said, had a decidedly different feel.

"Completely two different months," Freeney said with a smile Thursday as the Colts (8-4) prepared to play the Cincinnati Bengals (1-10-1) at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis Sunday at 1 p.m.

"Obviously last year was the worst November, I think, of my life. This was a very good November. It takes hard work to get there. I'm going to continue to work hard and hopefully good things will happen."

Freeney, who has eight sacks this season, led the Colts with five sacks during November, and he also forced two fumbles during a month in which the Colts went 5-0 to move to the front of the AFC Wild-Card chase.

One of the forced fumbles came this past Sunday. Colts defensive end Robert Mathis, who was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week Wednesday, returned it 37 yards for the game-winning touchdown in a 10-6 victory over the Cleveland Browns.

Of Freeney's sacks, three have come in the fourth quarter – the sack that forced the fumble that led to Mathis' touchdown Sunday, one on the final drive of a victory over Pittsburgh and another on the final drive of a victory over Houston.

"I take a little satisfaction from making the plays when I made them, when the team needed them," Freeney said. "Not to say that other times aren't imant, but when the game's on the line, in the fourth quarter, you need to make a play.

"When the team needs you, if I can step up, that's great."

Mathis, the Colts' sacks leader this season with nine, registered two sacks on Browns quarterback Derek Anderson Sunday, also returning the fumble for a touchdown.

Freeney, a Pro Bowl selection from 2005-2007, registered a sack in three of five November games, including multiple-sack games at Pittsburgh on November 9 and against Houston on November 16. Those games were the 15th and 16th multi-sack games of his career.

Freeney also was named AFC Defensive Player of the Month in December/January of 2004, and in September of 2005.

"Whenever you're voted Player of the Month, that's big," Freeney said. "You have to keep going, keep moving, keep working hard and hopefully good things happen. Hopefully, you get accolades. If you don't, you don't.

"When you get them, you have to be thankful."

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