Troy Polamalu Wins Defensive Player of the Year: 6 Players Just as Deserving

Jason KarlAnalyst IIIFebruary 1, 2011

Troy Polamalu Wins Defensive Player of the Year: 6 Players Just as Deserving

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    TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 01:  Troy Polamalu #43 of the Pittsburgh Steelers attempts to tackle Tim Hightower #34 of the Arizona Cardinals during the first quarter of Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by St
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    While Troy Polamalu was certainly deserving of Defensive Player of the Year, it came to much surprise that he beat out a couple other deserving candidates.

    For the season, Polamalu had 61 tackles, seven interceptions, one forced fumble and a sack.

    Those gaudy numbers are enticing, but the guy missed two games, and there was another candidate on his team that was more deserving.

    Polamalu is obviously the best safety in the league and is a true playmaker. He is what every safety wants to become: a player who can cover the entire field, blitz and defend the run.

    Again, though, there were other players who could have received the award. Here are six:

Cameron Wake

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    MIAMI - NOVEMBER 18:  Quarterback Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears is preasured by linebacker Cameron wake #91 of the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on November 18, 2010 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
    Marc Serota/Getty Images

    Cameron Wake is one of the best pass rushers in the league whom almost no one talks about.

    Wake had 14 sacks and three forced fumbles and was key in the stout Dolphins defense.

    Though he was a late bloomer, with his best season coming this season at the age of 29, Wake proved to be a force rushing opposing quarterbacks.

    Wake played in all 16 games and his pass-rushing skills won the Dolphins a few games this year.

Julius Peppers

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    CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 23:  Quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers is hit by Julius Peppers #90 of the Chicago Bears in the helmet as Peppers was called for a personal foul in the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship Game at Soldier Field
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    The key to the Bears defense was the pass rush from their four defensive linemen.

    Defensive end Julius Peppers unleashed his wrath facing many double teams, yet still he racked up eight sacks, three forced fumbles and an interception.

    Peppers rotated from opposite sides of the line, and was almost never played one-on-one because, just on athletic ability alone, Peppers could easily get to the quarterback.

Tamba Hali

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - JANUARY 02:  Linebacker Tamba Hali #91 of the Kansas City Chiefs rushes the quarterback in a game against the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium on January 2, 2011 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Tim Umphrey/Getty Images)
    Tim Umphrey/Getty Images

    Why is OLB Tamba Hali never mentioned when talking about the best defensive talents in the league?

    This past season, Hali had 14.5 sacks and forced four fumbles, and more important, he was a huge reason the Chiefs won 10 games this season.

    Hali impacted the defense with his unstoppable pass rush, and at 275 pounds, he was a nightmare for opposing tackles.

Brian Urlacher

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    CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 23:  Brian Urlacher #54 of the Chicago Bears smiles while taking on the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game at Soldier Field on January 23, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Those who thought middle linebacker Brian Urlacher of the Chicago Bears would never be the same player after his season-ending injury last season should be ashamed.

    Urlacher had 125 tackles, four sacks, two forced fumbles and one interception, elite numbers for an inside linebacker.

    He was key to the Bears' turnaround on defense this season.

    His uncanny ability of defending the pass as well as stuffing the run propelled the Bears defense to great heights this season.

James Harrison

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    PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 15:  Linebacker James Harrison #92 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates after stopping running back Willis McGahee #23 of the Baltimore Ravens on a play during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Heinz Field on January 15, 2011 in
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    The Steelers defense is best when James Harrison is wreaking havoc on opposing quarterbacks.

    For the season, Harrison had 10.5 sacks, six forced fumbles and two interceptions. He is a turnover machine and single-handedly can intimidate the opposing offense.

    While many agree that the Steelers defense is not the same without Troy Polamalu, the same can be said about pass-rushing demon Harrison.

    Harrison has carried his dominance into the postseason, where he has three sacks in just two games.

Clay Matthews

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    CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 23:  Linebacker Clay Matthews #52 of the Green Bay Packers holds up two fingers against the Chicago Bears in the NFC Championship Game at Soldier Field on January 23, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Clay Matthews reportedly lost the award by two votes to Polamalu.

    Matthews had 60 tackles, 13.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception.

    His pass rush allowed defensive coordinator Dom Capers to open up new complex zone schemes that has confused many quarterbacks.

    Matthews is as strong as an offensive lineman, but as fast as some running backs.

    He was key to the Packers defense not falling apart after the many injuries on that side of the ball.