INDIANAPOLIS (AP) San Francisco’s Jim Harbaugh has won the 2011 Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year award for leading the 49ers back to the playoffs.
In his first season as an NFL head coach, Harbaugh guided the 49ers to a 13-3 mark and the NFC West championship game. They beat New Orleans in the first round of the playoffs before losing the conference title game to the Giants.
A former NFL quarterback and successful coach at Stanford, Harbaugh earned 45 votes from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the NFL. He easily outdistanced Green Bay’s Mike McCarthy, who received three votes, and Denver’s John Fox, who got two.
Atlanta’s Mike Smith is the last man to win the award in his initial season as an NFL head coach, in 2008.
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Baltimore linebacker Terrell Suggs, the most dynamic player on the Ravens’ staunch defense, has won the 2011 Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year award.
On a team featuring longtime stars Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, Suggs stood out most for a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the league. He earned 21 votes, seven more than Minnesota end Jared Allen.
Suggs had 70 tackles, including 14 sacks, and was a force all over the field from his hybrid linebacker-end position. He also forced seven fumbles and had two interceptions as the Ravens went 12-4 to win the AFC North. Baltimore allowed 266 points, third fewest in the NFL.
Safety Reed won the award in 2004, while Lewis won in 2000 and 2003.
Also receiving votes were DE-DT Justin Smith of San Francisco, DE Jason Pierre-Paul of the New York Giants, linebackers Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman of San Francisco, and Green Bay cornerback Charles Woodson.
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Drew Brees’ record-setting season has earned the New Orleans quarterback the 2011 Associated Press NFL Offensive Player of the Year award.
Brees shattered Dan Marino’s 27-year-old mark by passing for 5,476 yards, and his 468 completions broke Peyton Manning’s 2010 record of 450. Brees finished the season completing 71.6 percent of his passes, breaking his own 2009 NFL record (70.6). He also surpassed 300 yards passing for seven straight games and 13 times during the season, both beating league marks he already held.
Brees, the 2008 top offensive player, received 43 votes from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the NFL. Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers got the other seven votes.
Thanks to Brees’ brilliance, the Saints set several single-season records, including offensive yards with 7,474 and first downs with 416.