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No contest: Belichick wins coach of the year

The decision wasn't a foregone conclusion like Tom Brady one night before, but New England Patriots boss Bill Belichick handily won the Associated Press 2010 NFL Coach of the Year Award.

BelichickBelichickBelichick guided the Patriots to another division title and an NFL-best 14 victories despite challenging circumstances detailed on the AFC East blog Wednesday morning.

While Belichick had the benefit of Brady at quarterback, the Patriots went through a transitional phase both offensively and defensively. They traded Randy Moss, dealt with Logan Mankins' long contract holdout, endured injuries that would rattle other teams, and successfully infused several young players into key roles.

The Patriots dominated the regular season. They led the NFL in scoring and ranked eighth in points allowed. They broke the NFL record for fewest turnovers in a season with 10.

Belichick, who also oversees New England's personnel, operated without any coordinators in 2010.

While the honor went to the best candidate, I was surprised to learn Belichick won in a landslide. He received 30 of the 50 votes cast. The award often is given to a coach who has dramatically improved his team. The Patriots were expected to be good in 2010, while there were a few who turned losers into playoff teams -- or came darn close.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers second-year coach Raheem Morris was a distant second with 11.5 votes. Kansas City Chiefs coach Todd Haley was third with 4.5 votes. Mike Smith of the Atlanta Falcons, Andy Reid of the Philadelphia Eagles, Lovie Smith of the Chicago Bears and Steve Spagnuolo of the St. Louis Rams each received one vote.