Polamalu was the runaway winner over the remainder of a sparse crop of Steelers rookies. His only competitor – the only other rookie to play since the first game of the season – was cornerback Ike Taylor, who finished a distant second in the voting.
Polamalu hasn't started a game, but has been the team's strong safety in nickel and dime packages since the start of the season. Polamalu has 14 solo tackles and 11 assists with one sack and a team-high 22 total special-teams tackles.
"I would like to thank God," Polamalu started, "not particularly for the award but because the beginning of the season for me was pretty rough with learning everything and not actually playing very well. I really started to feel comfortable late in the season."
Polamalu said the turning point came against Arizona, when he whiffed on a sack and the Cardinals scored on the play.
"From then on, I was just trying to make plays and not really worrying about messing up," he said. "I think from that moment on, from the second half in the Arizona game on to this point, I really just started playing football."
Polamalu follows Kendall Simmons as winner of the Steelers' Rookie of the Year award, which is officially called the Joe Greene Great Performance Award.
THE PITTSBURGH KID
Mike Logan's grandfather worked at the old J&L Steel plant that was turned into the Steelers' practice field. His father has worked as a cameraman for KDKA for over 20 years. Logan was raised in McKeesport and came back home through free agency. Yesterday, he was fittingly named winner of The Chief Award, which honors a member of the Steelers' organization who best exemplifies the spirit of cooperation with the media as established by the late founder, Art Rooney.
"I moved into Lee's locker," Logan said. "It's one of those lockers that are there by the side. It's kind of a media target. People wondered when Lee left if I was ready to fill those shoes. No one can quite do it like Lee."
Logan not only moved into Flowers' locker, he moved into his spot in the starting lineup. Logan also dealt with the continual questions about the development of Polamalu, the first-round pick waiting to take Logan's job.
In the final year of his contract, Logan held off Polamalu and started 13 of 14 games at strong safety. Logan is third on the team with 76 total tackles and has one sack and five passes defensed. He was asked if he feels these are his final days with the team.
"That's a hard question," he said. "Obviously with Troy Polamalu coming along and starting to pick up this defense and his play, they are playing him pretty well. I feel I took advantage of the opportunities I had this year. Coming off that serious knee injury, I think there were a lot of questions and I think I quieted a lot of critics. Right now I'm looking week to week and I'm taking advantage of every opportunity I get."
REED NOT IN SLUMP
Jeff Reed missed two field-goal attempts Sunday in a 6-0 loss, and he's missed seven of his last 13 kicks, but he won't use the word slump, at least publicly.
"In my eyes, there's no such thing as a slump," he said. "You don't have time for a slump. I watch film every time I kick. Everything looks fine."
Reed said "30 or 40 percent of the team" had good things to say to him after his misses, and he was pleased to hear Coach Bill Cowher express confidence in him at Tuesday's press conference. But it still doesn't change the numbers. After making 17 of 19 kicks as a rookie last year, Reed has made 20 of 29 this season. In his short career, he's made 77 percent of his kicks, but the number is falling fast.
"I keep in touch with a lot of guys who aren't in the league and a few guys who are in the league. They all say the same thing: ‘Don't worry about it,'" Reed said. "There's nothing that's off or anything, so I'm not real worried about it."