Woodson Named AP Defensive Player Of Year

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In a vote that was no surprise, Green Bay Packers cornerback Charles Woodson has been named The Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year.

It's the first award of its kind for Woodson, who earned his second straight and sixth career Pro Bowl bid this season and was named NFC Defensive Player of the Month in three of the four regular-season months.

Woodson is the first cornerback to win Defensive Player of the Year since 1994, when Deion Sanders won it, and he's the first Packers player so honored since the late Reggie White in 1998. The award was first instituted in 1971.

Woodson received 28 of a possible 50 votes from a panel of media members. New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis was second with 14 votes.

Playing an all-everything defender in defensive coordinator Dom Capers' new 3-4 scheme, Woodson made an impact all over the field this past season. He played as a cover corner, a nickel back in the slot, a blitzer, and even at safety in certain packages.

His nine interceptions and three interception returns for touchdowns both tied for the NFL lead and were career highs, and his 179 interception return yards were also a career high and ranked third in the league.

He led the Packers and matched his career high with four forced fumbles, adding another one in last Sunday's playoff loss to Arizona, which ranked tied for second in the league among defensive backs. He also tied for second among defensive backs with two sacks.

His 81 tackles (61 solo) were a career-high and led the Green Bay secondary, and his four double-digit tackle games were a new career best. He also finished second on the team with 21 passes defensed.

He won the NFC Defensive Player of the Month award in September, November and December, becoming the only player to win that award multiple times in a season. He also joined Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders and former Indianapolis kicker Mike Vanderjagt as the only players ever to win a player of the month award three times in one season.

Woodson's all-around impact was best displayed in the month of November, in victories over Dallas and Detroit that were part of Green Bay's five-game winning streak that propelled the Packers into playoff contention.

Against the Cowboys on Nov. 15, he led the team with 10 tackles and had a hand in all three takeaways by the defense. He stripped receiver Roy Williams after a 42-yard reception, he sacked quarterback Tony Romo and forced a fumble, and he picked off a Romo pass intended for tight end Jason Witten at the goal line in the fourth quarter of the 17-7 triumph.

{sportsad300}That effort became the first by an NFL player to include two forced fumbles, an interception and a sack in a game since Steelers linebacker James Harrison accomplished the feat two years ago to the day vs. Baltimore on Nov. 15, 2007. In that contest, Harrison posted three forced fumbles, 3½ sacks and an interception.

Two weeks later, Woodson followed that up with another monster game on Thanksgiving Day. Against the Lions, he intercepted two passes, returning one for a score, while also posting a sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery and limiting Detroit's No. 1 receiver, Calvin Johnson, to just two catches for 10 yards.

In that game, Woodson became the first NFL player since sacks became an official league statistic in 1982 to record a sack, two interceptions, an INT return for a touchdown and a fumble recovery in the same game.

A 12-year veteran and 33 years old, Woodson becomes the third-oldest player to win Defensive Player of the Year, behind White (1998) and defensive end Bruce Smith (1996). He's the oldest defensive back to ever win it, as Rod Woodson previously held that distinction (28 years old, 1993).

Woodson's three interception returns for scores on the season tied the franchise record for a single season with Hall of Famer Herb Adderley and teammate Nick Collins, and in the process he set a new franchise record for defensive touchdowns in a career with eight (seven interception returns, one fumble return). The seven interception returns for a score in a career is tied with Adderley for the franchise mark.

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