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Strahan tackles defensive award

Posted: Thursday, January 17, 2002

The sack has become the most glorified defensive play in the NFL, a major reason why Michael Strahan is The Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year.

Strahan, who set an NFL record with 22 1/2 sacks for the New York Giants, earned a seven-vote margin over Chicago linebacker Brian Urlacher in balloting announced Wednesday.

''Only seven,'' Strahan said with a huge smile that showed off his famous gap-tooth look. ''I'm disappointed, but I'll take it.''

Nothing was disappointing about the defensive end's performance this season.

Strahan, one of the league's most popular players for his outgoing, entertaining yet humble manner, always has been a fearsome pass rusher. He was a force against the run this season, too, and, with linebacker Jessie Armstead and the rest of New York's defense plagued by inconsistency, Strahan was Mr. Reliable.

So much so that he was a unanimous choice to the AP All-Pro team last week.

''I don't try to make every play perfect, I just try to make sure every play counts,'' Strahan said, ''because you never know which plays are going to count in a game.

''I do something extra every day. I don't think there is a day that I don't do something extra. That's been the difference for me. That's one thing I learned over the last few years: Every day you have to do something that you think somebody else is not doing to make yourself better.''



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