As you helped me assemble a list of possible candidates for the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year award, one name stood out as a chief competitor for Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen. Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs not only produced the best season of his already-notable career in 2011, but he also elevated his play to coincide with what could have been a devastating injury to middle linebacker Ray Lewis.
The Ravens won all four games Lewis missed due to a toe injury on the way to an AFC North crown and a 12-4 record. Suggs totaled seven of his 14 sacks in those games. So in all honesty, I would have been sorely tempted to vote for Suggs if I had a vote.
And yes, I haven't forgotten that Allen finished the season with 22 sacks, one short of an NFL record. It was an incredible season, especially when you consider how poorly his teammates played in a 3-13 season.
But fair or not, voters at least take into account the context of a players' performance. Given his impact on the Ravens' playoff run, Suggs got 21 of a possible 50 votes for this award from the Associated Press. Allen was next with 14 votes. That's how it goes sometimes.