NEW YORK – In his own view, Charles Woodson put together his best pro season in 2009. How appropriate, then, that he is the Associated Press 2009 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
The versatile Woodson tied for the league lead with nine interceptions, returning three for touchdowns, and was a key to the Packers’ turnaround on defense. His role in Green Bay’s ranking first in interceptions (30), takeaways (40) and turnover margin (plus-24) earned Woodson 28 votes Tuesday from a nationwide panel of 50 sports writers and broadcasters who cover the NFL.
“It’s a great honor,” Woodson said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “I felt like I put a lot into the game, mentally and physically – your body’s always beat up – and it’s great to be recognized.”
He doubled the number of votes for New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis in becoming the first Green Bay winner since Reggie White in 1998 and just the second Packer in the 36-year history of the award.
Woodson, the 1997 Heisman Trophy winner, is the first cornerback chosen top defensive player since Deion Sanders in 1994.
The Packers went 11-5 during the season.
Woodson had 63 unassisted tackles and 18 assists, according to the Packers, plus 21 passes defensed, four forced fumbles and one recovery, two sacks for 18 yards and three quarterback hits.
“I’ve said it before, he’s had two or three games that I can’t imagine any defensive player in the league having better games,” said defensive coordinator Dom Capers, who also coached Rod Woodson (1993) and Jason Taylor (2006) when they won the award.
Denver linebacker Elvis Dumervil, who led the league in sacks, and New Orleans safety Darren Sharper, who tied with Woodson for the interceptions lead and also ran back three for scores, each got three votes. Minnesota end Jared Allen received the other two votes.