OWINGS MILLS — Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs’ resurgent season didn’t go unnoticed.
He was named the Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year on Saturday night, getting 21 of the 50 votes in the final balloting.
Suggs recorded a career-high 14 sacks, leading the NFL and setting a franchise single-season record with seven forced fumbles.
Suggs, 29, became the third Raven to win the award, joining free safety Ed Reed (2004) and two-time winning middle linebacker Ray Lewis (2003, 2000).
“I want to thank the Ravens organization, my teammates, my position coach, Teddy M. [linebackers coach Ted Monachino], all of our defensive coaches, and, most importantly, the city of Baltimore,” Suggs said. “Our fans are the NFL’s best. I’ve always said that I play for our fans, and this honor is a tribute to them. I’m very appreciative of Ravens Nation and their love and support throughout the past nine years.”
Suggs registered 70 tackles, two interceptions and six pass deflections for the AFC North champions as they made it to the AFC championship game and lost to the New England Patriots.
Suggs was named to the Pro Bowl for the fifth time last season as the Ravens finished third in total defense and scoring defense and first in red-zone defense.
“Terrell Suggs had another outstanding year,” Monachino said. “He showed the rare ability that we all know he has. He was technical, physical, tough and explosive in nearly every phase of his game. People see the sack totals and know he is a special player, but it’s all the other parts of the game that prove, week-in and week-out, what a valuable player he is for our defense and for our team.”
“His professional approach, along with his undeniable talent, paid off not only for him personally, but for the Ravens and the city of Baltimore. Knowing the other finalists and how stiff the competition was makes this award a tremendous honor for him.”
Suggs beat out some strong competitors for the award: Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen, San Francisco 49ers defensive end Justin Smith, Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware and New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.
Suggs is the Ravens’ all-time leader with 82 1/2 sacks and had three three-sack games against the Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers and the Indianapolis Colts.
However, Suggs was shut out in both playoff games with no sacks while commanding extra blocking attention. And he had no sacks in four of the final five games of the Ravens’ season.
"We saw people starting to do some things to scheme [against] Suggs, using tight ends or chipping him as they go out," general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "But what we like about both [Suggs and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata] is that they show up in both the run and pass. The stats show up as far as sacks, but the way both of those guys impact the way we play against the run, it’s unbelievable."
Suggs shared the Butkus Award for top linebacker with Ware. and was named AFC Defensive Player of the Month once.
“Terrell Suggs is a premier player,” coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s one of the best players in the NFL. He’s one of the premier defensive players that everybody game-plans around. He gets blocked every different kind of way a guy can get blocked.
“He still finds a way to make plays. Plus, he’s one of the best leaders I’ve been around. This guy is one of the hardest-working guys I’ve ever been around. He’s part of the heart and soul of our team and our defense.”