Monday, January 24, 2011
Tom Brady headlines AP All-Pro Team
NEW YORK -- It's unanimous. And Tom Brady has outdone even himself.
The record-setting Patriots quarterback is the leading vote-getter for The Associated Press 2010 NFL All-Pro Team, the seventh straight year at least one player has gotten every vote. Three years ago, when Brady set the league record for touchdown passes, he missed by a half-vote of being unanimous, sharing a ballot with Brett Favre.
As usual, Brady prefers to deflect praise to the rest of the Patriots, who went 14-2 this season before losing in the playoffs to the Jets.
"I've been here for a while, so I've seen our offense evolve," Brady said. "We do some different things now than we've done in the past. Ultimately we're still trying to do the same thing, which is be productive and win games."
Brady won those 14 games as the league's leading passer, and he went a record 335 attempts without an interception. Overall, he threw for 36 touchdowns and had just four picks.
Brady is one of three New England players selected to the squad by a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the NFL. He is joined by guard Logan Mankins and inside linebacker Jerod Mayo.
A player has made the team unanimously each year since 2004, including one of this year's All-Pros, Baltimore safety Ed Reed. The Ravens also have defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and kicker Billy Cundiff on the team.
One rookie made the AP All-Pro team: Detroit defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
"It's a great honor and it's an award I've had my eye on, along with being in the Pro Bowl," Suh said. "Those are two of the highest accomplishments you can have other than winning a Super Bowl and being MVP. To be the only rookie speaks volumes about the help I got from my teammates -- especially on the defensive line -- and my coaches."
Suh's work, including 10 sacks that ranked him tops at his position, so impressed longtime defensive coach Gunther Cunningham that the Lions coordinator said, "I've never seen anything like this and a lot of people want to compare him," he said. "There's no comparison."
It's also difficult to compare Oakland's Shane Lechler to other punters. Lechler has the most All-Pro selections of anyone on the 2010 team, six.
The AFC is the dominant conference with 18 of the 27 spots: nine on offense, seven on defense, two special teamers.
Joining Brady in the backfield is one of the season's biggest surprises, Houston running back Arian Foster. He went from a nonentity with the Texans to the league's leading rusher with 1,616 yards and 16 TDs. The other tailback is Kansas City's Jamaal Charles, like Foster a first-time choice.
Foster's guide through holes in the line, Vonta Leach, is the fullback, also for the first time.
The wide receivers are Atlanta's Roddy White and Indianapolis' Reggie Wayne, both newcomers. White led the league with 115 catches.
Dallas tight end Jason Witten made it for the second time.
Up front are Mankins and New Orleans' Jahri Evans at guard, Miami's Jake Long and Cleveland's Joe Thomas at tackle, and center Nick Mangold of the New York Jets. Evans, Thomas and Mangold are repeaters from last season. Long and Mankins are first-timers.
Cundiff and Lechler are joined on special teams by Chicago returner Devin Hester, who also was an All-Pro in 2006 and 2007. This season, Hester's 17.1-yard punt return average set a record, and he passed Brian Mitchell for career kick return touchdowns with 14.
Along with Reed, making his fifth All-Pro squad, Ngata, Suh and Mayo on defense are ends Julius Peppers and John Abraham; outside linebackers Clay Matthews of Green Bay and James Harrison of Pittsburgh; inside linebacker Patrick Willis of San Francisco; cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha of Oakland and Darrelle Revis of the Jets; and safety Troy Polamalu of Pittsburgh.
Defensive repeaters from 2009 are Willis and Revis.
Polamalu, Peppers and Willis make it for the third time, Abraham, Harrison and Asomugha for the second.
In all, 10 AFC teams and eight from the NFC are represented. Chicago and Atlanta are the only two NFC clubs with two players.