Steelers’ Polamalu wins NFL Defensive Player of the Year

Added Matthews: “Despite defensive player of the year, I get the chance to play Sunday for the world championship.”

Considered the lesser of three linebackers drafted in the first round in 2009 from Southern California, Matthews has had the biggest impact of that trio. Yes, Brian Cushing was the league’s top defensive rookie in ‘09, but he tailed off in 2010 while Matthews was surging.

Matthews‘ sensational season came while facing consistent double-teaming.

“You really just attack it,” said Matthews, whose father and grandfather played in the league and whose uncle, Bruce, is a Hall of Fame offensive lineman. “I think last year, obviously, was about winning the one-on-one battles. Towards the playoffs, that’s when I saw the increase and it’s kind of continued. … So you deal with it, you try and beat one, then another, and get to the quarterback.”

Polamalu and Matthews take their competition to Dallas Cowboys Stadium on Sunday. They already are considered marketing adversaries, with Polamalu’s jersey the top seller in the league, and both vying for hirsute superiority.

“Well, I can guarantee you my hair’s more expensive,” Polamalu said.

Also receiving votes for AP Defensive Player of the Year were Chicago end Julius Peppers with six and linebacker Brian Urlacher with two; and Baltimore safety Ed Reed and nose tackle Haloti Ngata, one each.

 

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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