Taylor Takes the Big One

After a season of disappointment and the sudden departure of their head coach, the Dolphins finally got a bit of good news on Friday when Jason Taylor became the third player in franchise history to be named AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

Taylor became the fifth player from a losing team to win the award and the first since the Giants' Michael Strahan in 2001. For the record, the others are Cortez Kennedy of Seattle in 1992, Reggie White of the Eagles in 1987 and Lawrence Taylor of the New York Giants in the strike-shortened 1982 season.

Despite the Dolphins' losing record, Taylor's accomplishments simply couldn't be ignored, as he finished with 62 tackles, 13½ sacks, 14 quarterback hurries, two interceptions -- both returned for TDs -- 11 passes defensed, two fumble recoveries and an amazing 10 fumbles forced.

The voting for the award actually was fairly close, although it wasn't controversial candidate Shawne Merriman who finished second.

Merriman, who led the NFL with 17 sacks but was dismissed by some -- including Taylor -- as a worthy candidate because of his four-game steroid suspension, finished third in the balloting with six votes.

The runner-up to Taylor, who wound up with 22 of the 50 votes, actually was Denver cornerback Champ Bailey with 16 votes.

The rest of the balloting was as follows: Chicago linebacker Brian Urlacher, four votes; and one vote apiece for Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis and Baltimore defensive lineman Trevor Pryce.

Taylor joins safety Dick Anderson (1973) and defensive end Doug Betters (1983) as Dolphins recipients of the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award.

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