Panther's coach and linebacker receive special honors - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Panther's coach and linebacker receive special honors

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -

Ron Rivera took the Carolina Panthers from also-ran to division champion this season, earning him The Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year award.
 
Rivera's Panthers went 12-4 to take the NFC South and get a first-round playoff bye. They lost to San Francisco in the divisional round.
 
Rivera's fine work in his third season in charge in Carolina brought him 21½ votes from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the league in balloting announced Saturday night.
 
That outdistanced Kansas City's Andy Reid, who got 13½ votes. In his first year with the Chiefs, Reid took them from 2-14 to 11-5 and an AFC wild-card berth.
 
Rivera is the second Panthers coach to win the award. Dom Capers was AP Coach of the Year in 1996, Carolina's second season in the NFL.

Luke Kuechly also received special honors.

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 11½ 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.

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