It's a Brees: Rodgers Wins MVP in Landslide

QB Aaron Rodgers (Dale Zanine/USP)

Aaron Rodgers earned 48 of the 50 first-place votes to easily beat Drew Brees and become the Packers' first MVP since Brett Favre's three-peat. Showing he has the memory of an elephant, Rodgers thanked the 49ers, his childhood favorite team, for "drafting" him in 2005.

INDIANAPOLIS — Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers continued his path to being one of the NFL's all-time great quarterbacks by winning the 2011 Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player award in a landslide.

Rodgers earned 48 votes to two for New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees in balloting by a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the NFL. The Packers star is the first Green Bay player honored since Brett Favre concluded a run of three straight seasons as MVP in 1997.

"It means a lot to be recognized as a consistent player and contributing on my team," Rodgers said. "I think it's an award that relies on a player having the support of his teammates, obviously, guys blocking, guys running, guys catching, guys making plays. But I'm very honored to receive the award."

Rodgers led the NFL in passing with a 122.5 rating built on 45 touchdown passes, six interceptions and a 68.3 completion percentage as the Packers went 15-1 and won the NFC North. The rating set an NFL record, and Rodgers was the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for at least 4,000 yards but have six or fewer interceptions. His 9.25 yards per pass attempt is fourth-best since the AFL-NFL merger. His touchdown-to-interception ratio of 7.50 was far and away the best in the league, with Tom Brady a distant second at 3.27.

He joins former Packers Favre (1995, 1996, 1997), Bart Starr (1966), Jim Taylor (1962) and Paul Hornung (1961) in being selected MVP.

"People really count on me to be consistent each week, to play well. Knowing that my performance, the fact that I touch the ball every play, I have a direct impact on the game, the way I play," Rodgers said. "And if I'm playing consistent and doing things I know I'm supposed to do, we've been able to have some success because of it."

Rodgers grew up in Chico, Calif., and was a big 49ers fan as a child. In 2005, San Francisco owned the No. 1 overall pick and considered using it on Rodgers but went with Alex Smith, instead. Smith finally led the 49ers to the playoffs this season but Rodgers has won a Super Bowl and has established himself as one of the great quarterbacks of the era in just four seasons as a starting quarterback.

"Thanks for drafting me," Rodgers said, half-jokingly.

Rodgers thanked Ted Thompson, Mike McCarthy and Mark Murphy for showing such faith in him, and thanked Tom Clements and Joe Philbin for guiding his development. He also saluted the man who announced the winner of the award, four-time MVP Peyton Manning.

Rodgers is the third consecutive quarterback voted MVP, joining New England's Tom Brady (2007, 2010) and Indianapolis' Peyton Manning (2008,2009).

San Francisco's Jim Harbaugh won the coach of the year award for leading the 49ers back to the playoffs.

In his first season as an NFL head coach, Harbaugh guided the 49ers to a 13-3 mark and the NFC Championship game. They beat New Orleans in the first round of the playoffs before losing the conference title game to the New York Giants.

A former NFL quarterback and successful coach at Stanford University, Harbaugh earned 45 votes from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the NFL. He easily outdistanced Green Bay's Mike McCarthy, who received three votes, and Denver's John Fox, who got two.

Atlanta's Mike Smith was the last man to win the award in his initial season as an NFL head coach, in 2008.

Drew Brees' record-setting season earned the New Orleans quarterback offensive player of the year award.

Brees shattered Dan Marino's 27-year-old mark by passing for 5,476 yards, and his 468 completions broke Peyton Manning's 2010 record of 450. Brees finished the season completing 71.6 percent of his passes, breaking his own 2009 NFL record (70.6). He also surpassed 300 yards passing for seven straight games and 13 times during the season, both beating league marks he already held.

Brees, the 2008 top offensive player, received 43 votes , while Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers got the other seven votes.

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton won the offensive rookie of the year award and Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller won a two-man race with 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith for defensive rookie of the year.

Newton is the second straight No. 1 overall draft pick to take the honor, after St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford won it last year.

The first Panther to take the award, Newton received 47 votes to three for Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton.

Newton set an NFL record for touchdowns rushing in a season by a quarterback with 14 and became the first player in league history to throw for 4,000 yards and rush for 500.

Miller, the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, sparked a defensive turnaround in Denver with his steady and sometimes spectacular play. He teamed with quarterback Tim Tebow to energize the Broncos, who rallied from a 2-5 record to the AFC West title and a playoff win over Pittsburgh.

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford won the comeback player of the year award.

Stafford fought through injuries in his first two seasons, then threw for more than 5,000 yards in 2011 to lead Detroit to its first playoff berth in 12 years.

Stafford is the first Lion and the ninth quarterback — four straight — to win the award since its inception in 1998.

Baltimore linebacker Terrell Suggs was named defensive player of the year.

On a team featuring longtime stars Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, Suggs stood out most to earn 21 votes, seven more than Minnesota end Jared Allen.

Suggs had 70 tackles, including 14 sacks, and was a force all over the field from his hybrid linebacker-end position. He also forced seven fumbles and had two interceptions as the Ravens went 12-4 to win the AFC North. Baltimore allowed 266 points, third fewest in the NFL.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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