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J.J. Watt near unanimous Defensive Player of the Year

NEW ORLEANS -- J.J. Watt ended one of the most dominant defensive seasons in NFL history in appropriate fashion. He's the 2012 Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Frankly, it would have been a crime if anyone else won.

Defensive Player of the Year voting
Player Position No. of votes
J.J. Watt, Houston Texans DE 49
Von Miller, Denver Broncos LB 1

The Houston Texans defensive end was a monster from Week 1 straight through to Week 17. He was a mainstay on my weekly MVP list for all positions, finishing in the top four. It's hard to remember another player quite like Watt.

The selection committee also agreed Watt dominated -- he received all but one vote in being selected as the NFL's top defensive standout.

Watt was dangerous as a pass rusher despite rushing from the inside, finishing with 20.5 sacks. He was a stout run stuffer, with 23 tackles for loss. And Watt wreaked havoc on opposing quarterbacks with an NFL-record 16 tipped passes.

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Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller played well enough to win a Defensive Player of the Year award in most years. Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman was dominant, and San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith racked up sacks. But this wasn't a normal year.

Let's put Watt's dominance in perspective, Watt had 56 "defeats" this season, according to Football Outsiders. (A defeat is a forced turnover, a tackle for a loss, or a tackle or pass defensed that stopped a drive. In short: How many times did a defensive player completely ruin a play or drive?).

The previous all-time high for "defeats" was 45, set by Ray Lewis in 1999. Watt beat that by 11. Miller had 39 defeats, good for seventh-best ever.

It's hard for an interior rusher to simply take over games, but Watt did that again and again (games against the New York Jets, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions and Indianapolis Colts stand out). Watt is the single biggest reason the Texans won 13 games, including the playoffs.

It was one of the greatest defensive seasons in modern NFL history. Now it will live on in the record books.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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