Suggs wins Defensive Player of the Year, Birk named Man of the Year

The Ravens are done playing, but they aren't done getting recognized for their efforts during the 2011 season.

Linebacker Terrell Suggs was named the Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year at the first-annual NFL Honors awards show in Indianapolis. In addition, center Matt Birk was named the Walter Payton Man of the Year.

Suggs becomes the third Ravens player to win the Defensive Player of the Year award, joining Ray Lewis (2000, 2003) and Ed Reed (2004).

Three Defensive Player of the Year winners on one active roster? Four times a Raven has gotten the honor in 12 seasons?

Terrell_Suggs-screaming-Bengals-tall.jpgNot too shabby.

Suggs recorded 14 sacks on the season, marking a career-high and AFC-best and also forced an NFL-high seven fumbles, which set a franchise single-season record.

"I want to thank the Ravens organization, my teammates, my position coach, Teddy M. (Ted Monachino), all of our defensive coaches, and most importantly, the City of Baltimore," Suggs said in a statement. "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' 2011 sack total puts him third on the Ravens' all-time single-season sack list, behind only OLB Peter Boulware (15 sacks in 2001) and Michael McCrary (14.5 in 1998).

The 29-year-old was also named Pro Football Weekly's Defensive Player of the Year, made first-team All-Pro and was named to his fifth Pro Bowl.

Suggs had three monster games, recording three sacks in three separate games - against Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Indianapolis. His production in the sack department declined down the stretch, however, as he had just one sack in the Ravens' last five games combined, including two postseason contests.

His selection as Defensive Player of the Year might be a bit controversial, given the seasons put up by the Vikings' Jared Allen (who had 22 sacks), Dallas' DeMarcus Ware (who had 19.5 sacks) and San Francisco's Justin Smith (who had 7.5 sacks and three forced fumbles).

Birk, meanwhile, beat out Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers and Bears cornerback Charles Tillman for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, which recognizes a player's community service as well as his playing excellence.

The 14-year veteran has been very active in the Baltimore community, especially through the "Ready, Set, Read!" program, an initiative of his H.I.K.E. Foundation (hope, inspiration, knowledge and education). The "Ready, Set, Read!" program reaches close to 100,000 children in the Baltimore area and motivates students to read at home through an incentive-based system.

Birk also anchored the Ravens' offensive line this season and helped pave the way for Ravens running back Ray Rice to score a franchise-record 15 total touchdowns and rush for a career-high 1,364 yards.

"I am honored and truly humbled to be named the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year," said Birk. "This award is not about the recipient, but rather a celebration of the decades-long tradition of NFL players using their unique platform to touch lives and make a positive and lasting impact in the communities in which they work and live. Walter Payton left a legacy that went beyond the playing field. He continues to be an inspiration and example of what a complete NFL player should aspire to become.

"I am grateful to have played for two organizations, the Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens, which encourage and support their players' community efforts. I have always considered it a privilege to play in the NFL and serve the communities that support our game."

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