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Second-year LB Kuechly AP's top defensive player

The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- Luke Kuechly has been voted The Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year, adding the honor to his top defensive rookie award of 2012.

Carolina's All-Pro linebacker received 19 votes from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the league in balloting announced Saturday night. He beat out Indianapolis All-Pro linebacker Robert Mathis, who earned 11 1/2 votes.

Kuechly was credited with 96 tackles for a defense that allowed 241 points, fewer than any team except NFC champion Seattle. He also had four interceptions, two sacks, eight passes defensed, and was a presence from sideline to sideline on the NFL's No. 2 unit.

Two Seahawks All-Pros also drew support in the voting: safety Earl Thomas (7 1/2 votes) and cornerback Richard Sherman (4).

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

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