Troy Polamalu Wins AP Defensive Player of the Year Award: Some Highlights

There were some initial reports Monday evening that Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews had been named the AP’s Defensive Player of the year. Those reports were wrong. The winner, as it turns out, is Steelers safety Troy Polamalu as he received 17 of the 50 votes. Matthews received 15 and came in second, while James Harrison finished in third place with eight votes. So there you go, the top three defensive players in the NFL, according to the AP, will be taking the field Sunday evening.

I’m actually a little surprised to see Harrison get as many votes as he did, not because he didn’t deserve it (honestly, I think you can make an argument that he had a better season than Troy) but because of the mid-season witch hunt that seemed to be following him around. Either way, he won the award back in 2008 (the last time the Steelers were in the Super Bowl) and has another top-three finish on his resume. For Troy, it’s his first time taking it home. And while it’s not the award he wants to win this week, it’s certainly deserved. He finished the season with seven interceptions (tied for second in the league), a sack, five tackles for loss, 11 pass defenses, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a touchdown.

And now: Some of Troy’s best moments of the season (so far) in no particular order…

1. With the Steelers trailing the Bengals 7-0 at Heinz Field, Polamalu jumped in front of Terrell Owens and picked off his former college roommate, taking it back for a game-tying touchdown. He would later intercept another pass before deciding to throw it across the field, prompting Dick LeBeau to scream, “THAT’S NOT GOOD FOOTBALL.” As I pointed out at the time, it’s not the first time Troy’s done that, as he also did it during a playoff game against the Bengals which resulted in Joey Porter breaking out the Dumb & Dumber line about “totally redeeming yourself.”

2. How good is Troy Polamalu? He picks off passes when he’s not even on the field (and the fans still go crazy)…

3. We’ve seen this at least four times from Troy over the years, and I’m still amazed every single time he does. Not only the athleticism to jump over the line and make the play, but the timing. The timing is the most amazing part about this…

4. Simply one of the biggest plays of the season…

5. Melting Matty Ice in the opener (even I hate myself for typing that line)…

Ryan has argued before that Troy is the most important player on the Steelers, even more important than Ben Roethlisberger, and it’s argument I’m starting to accept. Simply one of the best Steelers — hell, one of the best players — I’ve seen play.

Remember when the Steelers traded up to get him in 2003? They gave up their first pick (No. 27) as well as a third and fifth round pick to the Chiefs. Kansas City ended up getting Larry Johnson, who is no longer in the NFL despite a couple of high-level seasons, and two guys that never made an impact. Yeah. I’d say that trade worked out.

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  • eyespy

    Ah, yes. The Polamalu Trade-Up.

    Stupidest thing they ever did, I thought at the time. Gonna make Aaron Jones look like LT.

    That’s why I’m sitting on the couch commenting on it while the Steelers go for No. 7.

  • Anonymous

    Anyone have a link to the Joey Porter video?

  • DC in ATL

    Combined with at least two and hopefully three Super Bowl rings, this award may help open the door to the Hall of Fame a good bit wider for Troy.

    My seven year old daughter proudly wears her brother’s Polamalu shirt for every Steeler game, (though she disappears to watch Hannah Montana or something else shortly after the game starts). The only three Steelers she can easily name are Troy, Big Ben and Hines. I’m betting that is an example of how these three players are in the general public’s mind suggesting they are the most likely Steelers to get votes for Canton over time.

  • Steeler Stan

    I haven’t watched a ton of Packer games this year but I have to say that I’m surprised that Matthews was second. 13.5 sacks, 1 int, 2 forced fumbles and 60 tackles? Even among pass rusher types I would have put Harrison, Umenyora, Wake, Hali and Ware ahead of Matthews.

  • Mick Capanzzi

    One more dig Chandra, then I’ll give you a break for today…read it and weep!