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.
"There is not a harder worker in football than Terrell Suggs," said Ravens coach John Harbaugh, whose team went 12-4 to win the AFC North. "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 70 tackles, including 14 sacks, and was a threat all over the field from his hybrid linebacker-end position. He also forced seven fumbles and had two interceptions.
Lewis, who won the award in 2000 and 2003, said Suggs understands that it's one thing to be considered a pass rusher, and another to be considered the complete defensive player that he is today.
"That's why 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 said.
Linebackers coach Ted Monachino said the way Suggs plays is about more than just numbers.
"People see the sack totals and know he's a special player, but it's all the other parts of the game that prove, week-in and week-out, what a valuable player he is for our defense and for our team," Monachino said.
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.