New England's Belichick named NFL's top coach in a landslide

Posted: Sunday, January 04, 2004

Bill Belichick owns three Super Bowl titles, and after leading the New England Patriots in his best coaching job, he was honored Saturday as The Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year.

In a year of masterful coaching throughout the league, Belichick led the Patriots to the NFL's best record, 14-2. The Patriots, fighting off injuries almost from the outset of the schedule, won their final 12 games, setting franchise records for winning streak and victories in one year.

They did so in great part because of Belichick's brilliance as a game-planner, motivator and in-game strategist.

''I am honored to accept this award as recognition of the tremendous work of our entire coaching staff, personnel department and Mr. Kraft,'' Belichick said. ''Coaching is always a collective effort that depends on the assistant coaches' preparation and direction and the players' performance on the field. More than anything, it was the players' exceptional resiliency, toughness and execution under pressure that allowed us to have a successful regular season.''

Jamal, Ray Lewis to start in Pro Bowl

HONOLULU Steve McNair, Jamal Lewis and Ray Lewis, all NFL postseason award winners, will start for the AFC in next month's Pro Bowl.

McNair, who shared The Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player award with Peyton Manning, was chosen Saturday to start at quarterback. McNair guided the Tennessee Titans to a 12-4 record and a wild-card playoff berth.

Jamal Lewis, who rushed for 2,066 yards this season, second most in NFL history, was one of three Baltimore Ravens to win AP awards. The NFL Offensive Player of the Year will start at running back. Also in the starting AFC backfield will be Kansas City fullback Tony Richardson.

Ravens inside linebacker Ray Lewis, the AP Defensive Player of the Year, also will start the game Feb. 8 at Aloha Stadium. He'll be joined at linebacker by fellow Raven Peter Boulware and Buffalo's Takeo Spikes.

Other AFC starters will be wide receivers Marvin Harrison of Indianapolis and Chad Johnson of Cincinnati; tight end Tony Gonzalez, Kansas City; tackles Jonathan Ogden, Baltimore, and William Roaf, Kansas City; center Kevin Mawae, New York Jets; and guards Will Shields, Kansas City, and Alan Faneca, Pittsburgh.

Other AFC defensive starters will be defensive ends Dwight Freeney, Indianapolis; and Adewale Ogunleye, Miami; defensive tackles Richard Seymour, New England, and Marcus Stroud, Jacksonville; cornerbacks Ty Law, New England, and Patrick Surtain, Miami; strong safety Ed Reed, Baltimore; and free safety Brock Marion, Miami.

Four Dallas Cowboys were chosen to start for the NFC: tackle Flozell Adams, guard Larry Allen, defensive tackle La'Roi Glover and safety Roy Williams. The Minnesota Vikings will have three starters: quarterback Daunte Culpepper, wide receiver Randy Moss and strong safety Corey Chavous.

The other NFC starters will be wide receiver Torry Holt, St. Louis; tight end Alge Crumpler, Atlanta; running back Ahman Green, Green Bay; fullback Fred Beasley, San Francisco; tackle Orlando Pace, St. Louis; guard Marco Rivera, Green Bay; and center Olin Kreutz, Chicago.

On defense, the NFC will start ends Simeon Rice, Tampa Bay, and Michael Strahan, New York Giants; tackle Kris Jenkins, Carolina; linebackers Brian Urlacher, Chicago, Derrick Brooks, Tampa Bay, and LaVar Arrington, Washington; cornerbacks Champ Bailey, Washington, and Dre' Bly, Detroit.

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