Now that the voters have chosen Troy Polamalu over Clay Matthews for The Associated Press 2010 NFL Defensive Player of the Year award, the two stars can prove their worth against each other on the field.
In the Super Bowl.
Pittsburgh safety Polamalu received 17 votes Monday from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who cover the league, edging Green Bay linebacker Matthews by a hair — two votes.
Despite missing two games, in which Pittsburgh went 1-1, Polamalu became the sixth Steeler to win the award. He had seven interceptions this season along with 63 tackles, but made his mark with big plays. In a late-season victory at Baltimore, his leaping tackle forced a fumble that set up the winning touchdown.
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That victory catapulted the Steelers to the AFC North title. Now, they are in the Super Bowl for the third time in six seasons, where they face Matthews and the Packers.
“I don’t imagine their game plan changing over one player,” Polamalu said. “We don’t single out anybody. Anything we achieve here is done as a team, as a whole.”
Added Steelers linebacker James Harrison, who finished third in the balloting with eight votes and won the award two years ago: “Troy brings this defense from a ‘C’ defense to an ‘A’ defense. He’s someone that you have to account for in the secondary.”
GOODELL, SMITH TALK
Trying to kick-start lagging labor talks as the Super Bowl fast approaches, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and union executive director DeMaurice Smith met in New York and drew up a schedule for new negotiating sessions.
Goodell and Smith spoke about “a range of issues related to a new collective bargaining agreement,” according to a joint statement released by the league and union.
Monday’s session was described in the joint statement as “part of a process to intensify negotiations.” It said Goodell and Smith “agreed to hold a formal bargaining session with both negotiating teams on Saturday in the Dallas area.” That’s the day before the Super Bowl is played at Cowboys Stadium.
A storm is expected to bring freezing rain and bone-chilling cold to parts of Texas today and Wednesday. There’s a chance of light snow off and on this week in the Dallas area. Embattled New York Jets strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi resigned, less than two months after he was caught tripping an opposing player during a punt return and suspended by the team. ... The Oakland Raiders hired Bob Wylie as offensive line coach. ... The Bengals fired offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski, a former Washington State receiver and assistant coach for the Cougars and Seahawks ... The Panthers added assistant coaches Fred Graves (wide receivers), Pete Hoener (tight ends) and Eric Washington (defensive line). ... The Browns hired Mark Whipple (quarterbacks coach), former Seahawks assistant Dwaine Board (defensive line), Bill Davis (linebackers), and Mike Wilson (wide receivers). ... Ratings for the Pro Bowl were the highest in 11 years, up 8 percent from last year.