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Vote for Hill, Sanchez for NFL Awards

Posted Sep 11, 2012

Updated Wednesday, 12:05 p.m. ET

It's been an eventful first week of the regular season for Stephen Hill.

The Jets' rookie wide receiver played a major role in the Jets' opening-day triumph over the Bills on Sunday with two touchdown receptions that also set a franchise record and achieved a rare NFL feat in the last quarter century. As a result, he was invited as one of the guests on the first "Inside the Jets" radio show of the season on Monday night.

And today Hill finds himself among the five nominees for the first Pepsi Max NFL Rookie of the Week award.

Hill has some stiff competition on this week's ballot. Also nominated are Redskins QB Robert Griffin III, Buccaneers RB Doug Martin, Vikings K Blair Walsh, and Patriots DE Chandler Jones. Fans can vote for this week's award online through Friday noon ET.

Hill also has some company on the NFL's weekly award pages. Mark Sanchez's offensive and team leadership vs. the Bills has earned him a ballot slot among the three finalists for Week 1 of the league's Never Say Never Moment of the Week award. Fans can also vote for this award through Friday at 3 p.m. Winners will be announced during NFL Network's Friday "Around the League" show and then posted on NFL.com.

Hill's Sunday best was splendid. He had five receptions for 89 yards and those two TDs — a 33-yard strike from Mark Sanchez on the first play of the second quarter, then a 17-yard catch-and-run for the pylon midway through the third quarter. All five of the former Georgia Tech star's catches went for first downs, three converted third downs, and he also picked up a sixth first down when he forced Buffalo CB Aaron Williams into a first-quarter pass interference penalty.

Those two scoring plays moved Hill into elite company as he became only the fifth NFL player in the last 25 years to have two TD receptions in his first pro game.

Hill also is the first player in Jets/Titans franchise history to have two TD catches in his debut with the team. And that's for any position and for not only rookies but players with previous pro experience.

Only two other wide receivers had even one TD catch as rookies playing in their first game as Jets. WR David Knight did it at Green Bay in 1973 and WR Chansi Stuckey at Miami in 2008. TE Mickey Shuler also turned the trick with a 1-yard score against the Dolphins in 1978. Veterans such as Art Powell, Bake Turner, Braylon Edwards and Plaxico Burress each had one TD catch in his first game as a Jet.

But no one had ever had two in his green-curtain-opening performance. Until "Thrill" Hill made his big splash.

"The young man really did have an outstanding day," head coach Rex Ryan said. "It's tough to come into this league as a rookie receiver. I just look at the fact that Jerry Rice was a backup receiver. Some position coach was probably like, "Who is this guy?" because Jerry Rice wasn’t bad. It is tough in this league to come in — the speed, the coverages, the techniques are tough. It is impressive that Stephen was able to have that kind of day."

Sanchez's nomination comes from leading the Jets' starting offense from their touchdown-less preseason to four offensive TDs (three on Sanchez TD passes) vs. the Bills. His challenge for this weeks Never Say Never Moment prize is Peyton Manning's return to action in Denver's 31-19 win over Pittsburgh and Tony Romo's production in Dallas' opening-night 24-17 road win over the Giants.

Preseason Live: New York Jets

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