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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Bill Belichick Wins Coach of the Year, Joins Tom Brady With AP Honors

For the second straight night a member of the New England Patriots has been recognized for an outstanding 2010 regular season as Bill Belichick was selected as the Coach of the Year by The Associated Press. This is the third time Belichick has won the award, only one less than Hall-of-Famer Don Shula, as he received 30 votes from the 50-member voting panel, and joined his quarterback, Tom Brady, who won Offensive Player of the Year honors on Tuesday.

"I accept the award on behalf of the entire organization -- ownership, our assistant coaches and certainly the players -- they're the ones that stepped up and made the plays this year," Belichick said in an NFL Network phone interview. "We had a lot of new people on the team, young players that contributed. It's certainly an honor to receive this award on behalf of our performance in the regular season. Unfortunately, we weren't able to carry that over into the playoffs."

Tampa Bay's Raheem Morris finished second with 11 1/2 votes after engineering an impressive turnaround with the Bucs, but it was not enough to outdo Belichick, who led New England to a league-best 14-2 record. He did so with his youngest team in years and without Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins for the first seven games, picking up steam after trading wide receiver Randy Moss to Minnesota.

With the departure of Moss it was thought by many that the Patriots' offense would struggle, but then Belichick put together a trade with Seattle that brought about the return of Super Bowl XXXIX MVP Deion Branch at wide receiver and the offense didn't miss a beat. Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis broke the 1,000-yard rushing barrier and New York Jets castoff Danny Woodhead provided the spark that was missing after all-purpose back Kevin Faulk suffered a season-ending knee injury.

"When I chose him, people at the league office, people in this town, sent me tapes of him in Cleveland and said, 'You don't want to hire this guy,'" Patriots owner Robert Kraft said. "And, remember, he went 5-11 (in his first year with Patriots) and we gave up a No. 1 draft choice (to the Jets to get him). People thought we were nuts. So I think that probably was one of the best decisions I've made in football."            

Belichick also won the award in 2003 and 2007 and his record with the Patriots is 126-50, plus a 14-5 mark in the postseason, with losses in the last three tries with teams that went a collective 40-8. His career winning percentage of .716 ranks eighth, tied with Hall of Famer Paul Brown, and no other coach has four 14-victory regular seasons.

Also receiving votes were Kansas City's Todd Haley (4), whose team went 11-5 and won the AFC West; and four coaches with one selection apiece: Atlanta's Mike Smith, Philadelphia's Andy Reid, Chicago's Lovie Smith and St. Louis' Steve Spagnuolo.

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