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.
"It's special because you only get one rookie season," Miller said. "You don't get two tries at it. It's really a one-and-done thing. That was probably the most special thing about it, you only get one shot to accomplish this feat."
Miller received 39 votes from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the NFL. Smith, also a first-round choice, got the other 11.
"Aldon and me are good friends. If he got it, I wouldn't have been mad. That's still like my buddy," Miller said. "If anybody else would have gotten him, I probably would have been sick. But knowing him and knowing what kind of guy he is and spending time with him, I know what type of player he is and he deserved it, too."
The second Bronco to win the award -- linebacker Mike Croel got it in 1991 -- Miller made 64 tackles and had 11.5 sacks despite missing one game and playing the last four contests with a cumbersome cast protecting his surgically repaired right thumb.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press