Allen runner-up to Suggs for Defensive Player of Year

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 5, 2012 - 1:04 AM

The standout linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens earned 21 votes from the media, seven more than the NFL sack leader.

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Jared Allen

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A great season on a bad team just wasn't good enough for Jared Allen.

Despite his 22 sacks, four forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, one interception and one safety, the Vikings defensive end finished a distant second to Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs for Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

The award was presented on the "NFL Honors" primetime special Saturday night on NBC.

Suggs, who helped the Ravens to a 12-4 record, the AFC North title and a trip to the AFC Championship Game, received 21 of the 50 votes by NFL writers. Allen, whose team tied a franchise record with 13 losses, received 14 votes.

"There is not a harder worker in football than Terrell Suggs," Ravens coach John Harbaugh told reporters. "I don't think people always understand and realize that because of his personality. This guy takes it very seriously -- pass rush, run defense, studying the opposing offense, studying the particulars of the guys he's going against. To me that's what makes him great."

Suggs had 14 sacks, but it was his seven forced fumbles and his team's success that helped swing the vote in his favor. Suggs also had two interceptions and stepped up as a leader on defense during a four-game stretch when middle linebacker Ray Lewis was injured.

Suggs is the third member of this season’s Ravens team to win Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Lewis has won it twice, while safety Ed Reed has won it once.

"When you sit back and watch him year after year, week after week, I am just proud to say that I love how he understands the game now," Lewis told reporters.

Allen's 22 sacks came within a half-sack of matching Michael Strahan's league mark. He was trying to become just the sixth player from a losing team to win the award. The players to accomplish that feat were: Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor in 1982 (4-5); Eagles defensive end Reggie White, who had 21 sacks in 1987 (7-8); Seahawks defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy, who had 14 sacks for a 2-14 team in 1992; Strahan, the Giants defensive end whose 22 sacks came during a 7-9 season in 2001; and Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor, who had 13 1/2 sacks, nine forced fumbles and two interception returns for touchdowns for a 6-10 team in 2006.

Also receiving votes were 49ers defensive end Justin Smith, 49ers linebackers Navorro Bowman and Patrick Willis, Packers cornerback Charles Woodson and Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. Pierre-Paul was considered more of a contender for the award. He had 16 1/2 sacks, two forced fumbles and considerably more tackles (86) than Allen or Suggs.

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