Woodson Picks Off Top Award

Charles Woodson received 28 of 50 first-place awards to beat out cornerback counterpart Darrelle Revis of the Jets to be named Associated Press defensive player of the year. Woodson tied for the NFL lead with nine interceptions and was an all-around star.

Cornerback Charles Woodson, who tied for the NFL lead with nine interceptions, was named the NFL's defensive player of the year by The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Woodson, playing cornerback, nickel and safety while generally matching up against the offense's top target — either receiver or tight end — was the key player in the Packers' defensive turnaround this season. With his career-high interception total, the Packers led the NFL in takeaways (40) and interceptions (30) while ranking No. 2 in total defense.

"Yeah, it's the best," Woodson, asked after being voted to the NFC Pro Bowl team, said of his performance this season. "There's no question about it. I was hesitant to say it early on this year. Just consistent play, playing at a high level every week, turnovers, playing multiple positions and playing them well. Combine that with just going out there and having fun, and this is definitely the best."

The late, great Reggie White, who ended a short retirement to record 16 sacks for the Packers in 1998, is the only other Green Bay defender to win the award in its 36-year history. Woodson is the first cornerback to claim the award since Deion Sanders in 1994.

Woodson collected 28 of 50 first-place votes. Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis received 14 votes, followed by Denver's Elvis Dumervil (three), New Orleans' Darren Sharper (three) and Minnesota's Jared Allen (two).

"It's a great honor, man. I felt like I put a lot into this game, mentally and physically. Body's always beat up and it's great to be recognized," Woodson, who will meet with reporters this afternoon, told the AP's Chris Jenkins this morning.

"I'm just going to keep taking shots until I get back to the Super Bowl — and win it," he added.

Woodson started all 16 games and tied Sharper, Buffalo's Jairus Byrd, and Philadelphia's Asante Samuel for the league lead in interceptions. Only Irv Comp, who had 10 interceptions in 1943, had more in a single Packers season. Woodson's three interceptions returns tied for the NFL lead and set a career high, as did his 179 yards of interception returns.

"Opportunity. It's all opportunity," Woodson, with 28 interceptions in four seasons in Green Bay after 17 for Oakland in eight years, told Packer Report for the Cover Story of its January magazine. "I think I'm around the ball enough that if I get enough opportunities, then I'll come up with them."

What set him apart from the others — especially Revis — was his all-around play.

His team-high and career-high-tying four forced fumbles ranked second among defensive backs to Chicago's Charles Tillman (six). He was physical against the run while leading the secondary with a career-high 81 tackles, and also tied for second among NFL defensive backs with two sacks.

The NFL voted him its NFC defensive player of the month in September, November and December. No NFC defensive player had even won the award twice in a season. He was especially brilliant in November, with two forced fumbles (including a sack/strip of Tony Romo) and an interception against Dallas and two interceptions (including a pick-six) and a forced fumble and recovery against Detroit. His interception and touchdown against Arizona in Week 17 gave him a Packers career record eight defensive touchdowns.

Revis blossomed into arguably the NFL's best cover man this season. He finished with six interceptions. Dumervil came out of nowhere to lead the NFL with 17 sacks. Sharper equaled Woodson with nine interceptions and three touchdowns. Allen had 14.5 sacks and five forced fumbles.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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