Troy Polamalu: Looking Back, Did Polamalu Deserve Defensive Player of the Year?
Troy Polamalu Barely Edged Out Clay Matthews, Whose Packers Just Beat the Steelers in Super Bowl XLV
A few days before the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers got down to business in Super Bowl XLV, Steelers safety Troy Polamalu was named the AP's Defensive Player of the Year.
Despite the fact that many were quick to applaud Polamalu and say that the award was long overdue, there were also quite a few people who were surprised the the award didn't go to Packers linebacker Clay Matthews. As it turned out, Polamalu narrowly defeated Matthews in the voting, as 17 of the 50 voters went for Polamalu, with 15 going for Matthews.
Polamalu did have seven interceptions on the season, which tied his career high. Of course, he also made several signature big plays, chief among them being his strap sack of Joe Flacco in a game against the Ravens late in the year.
Matthews, on the other hand, established himself as one of the most disruptive defensive players in the NFL. In just his second season, he totaled 13.5 sacks, and was the key part of a Green Bay defense that was the top unit in the NFC.
Of course, both players had plenty of support. Matthews had Charles Woodson, the 2009 Defensive Player of the Year, backing him up in the secondary. Polamalu had James Harrison, the 2008 Defensive Player of the Year, terrorizing opponents around the line of scrimmage.
When it comes down to it, I suppose you have to take a step back and wonder where either defense would be without their respective stars.
Polamalu missed two games toward the end of the season, and the Steelers lost one of them. Matthews missed Green Bay's mid-season game against the Dolphins, and they lost in overtime.
So then, the argument for either player really is actually quite even. But because the Packers were able to win the Super Bowl, thanks in large part to the fact that Aaron Rodgers was able to overcome Polamalu, it's understandable if people in some circles want to claim that Matthews got robbed.
Truth be told, I'd rather not pick one. In fact, I'll take both if at all possible.
For more football goodness, check out our Power Rankings of the 45 Most Valuable Players in Super Bowl History.
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