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It's almost hard to believe that the Pittsburgh Steelers safety hasn't won this award before, especially considering he's been one of the top players in the league since he was drafted in 2003. But Polamalu's wait should finally be over this year.
The heart and soul of the Steelers defense had a monster season, collecting 63 tackles and seven interceptions (second in the NFL). He also added a sack, a forced fumble, 18 deflections and a touchdown just for good measure.
Polamalu missed two games late in the season, but he was at his best when it mattered the most. He sacked Joe Flacco and forced a fumble late in the fourth quarter, giving the Steelers the ball, the win and the division title.
The Steelers surrendered an NFL-best 14.5 points/game during the regular season, and they couldn't have done it without Polamalu—the best player for the best defense in football.