Some Troy, some Jared

As if it isn't bad enough from Ravens fans' perspective that the hated Steelers will take the field Sunday night with a shot at the Lombardi Trophy, it was announced last night that Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu was named the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year.

When it rains, it pours.

Polamalu barely beat out Packers linebacker Clay Matthews for the award. Matthews (who would have gotten my vote) earned 15 votes, two fewer than Polamalu's 17.

Ravens safety Ed Reed and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata each received some recognition, getting one vote apiece.

Anybody else feel like Polamalu's sack/strip of Joe Flacco late in the fourth quarter of Pittsburgh's Week 13 win over the Ravens played a huge part in getting him this award?

That was probably the defining play of Polamalu's year, and it might have also been the biggest play of the entire regular season for the Steelers.

If Polamalu doesn't hit Flacco and force a fumble in that spot, the Ravens likely hold on to win that game, take the AFC North title, and have home field in the divisional round, while the Steelers would have needed to go on the road to get to Dallas.

Troy should send a gift basket to Michael Oher for letting him come in clean to make that play.

Meanwhile, I've got a quick note on the Jared Gaither contract talks which I mentioned yesterday.

I've been told that while the Ravens and Gaither are scheduled to discuss a new contract tomorrow, those negotiations will just be preliminary in nature.

No deal is imminent at this point, so while it's a good sign that the two sides are getting together to talk shop, I wouldn't expect anything substantial to come out of the meeting.

As I wrote last week, the Ravens have concerns about Gaither's health and work ethic, and Gaither might still be a little irritated that the Ravens didn't give him a long-term deal last offseason and that he was bumped out of his left tackle spot by Oher this season.

There's still a lot of initial talking that would need to go on before the Ravens and Gaither would be able to have serious discussions about a new contract.

Both sides probably have a lot to get off their chests. This meeting might just be the first step toward seeing if a reunion is possible between the offensive tackle and the team that drafted him.

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