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Monday, January 31, 2011
Clay Matthews falls two votes shy of DPOY

By Kevin Seifert

IRVING, Texas -- Linebacker Clay Matthews was thisssssss close to winning the Green Bay Packers' second consecutive Defensive Player of the Year award.

In voting just announced by The Associated Press, Matthews finished two votes behind Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu. The final tally was 17-15. To circle back on our discussion from Monday morning, I thought Matthews was the front-runner based on an early-season tear that left him with 8.5 sacks after five weeks. But it’s obvious that some voters turned their attention elsewhere when a pair of injuries cost Matthews some production in the second half of the season. Polamalu finished the season with seven interceptions despite a painful Achilles injury that cost him two games.

As the voting suggests, the race was tight and there wasn’t much separation between the two. You could make rational arguments in favor of either. Polamalu was the best player on the NFL’s top defense this season. Matthews might have been the most feared pass rusher in the league, one whom opposing offenses must track at all times. No one lost in this award. It was a rare case of great and greater.

Note: Two Chicago Bears players also received votes. Defensive end Julius Peppers finished fourth with six votes, while linebacker Brian Urlacher was fifth with two votes.