Lions receiver Calvin Johnson and Vikings defensive end Jared Allen were the leading vote getters for The Associated Press 2011 NFL All-Pro Team, each falling one vote short of being unanimous choices.
Aaron Rodgers was the quarterback for the first time, easily beating New Orleans’ Drew Brees, 47½ to 2½. Rodgers led Green Bay to a league-best 15-1 record, maintaining the brilliance he showed in taking the Packers to the Super Bowl title last February.
Johnson and Allen each received 49 votes Friday from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the NFL. It’s the fourth All-Pro team for Allen, who led the league with 22 sacks, one-half short of the record. Johnson makes it for the first time after hauling in 96 catches for a 17.5-yard average and scoring 16 touchdowns.
“That’s sweet,” Johnson said. “That’s one of the best honors you can have other than being a Super Bowl champion. To be an All-Pro is a tremendous honor.”
Allen liked how adding to his All-Pro spots in 2007 through 2009 reflects on his career.
“The All-Pro Team to me is one of the all-time accomplishments,” Allen said. “Pro Bowls are nice, but guys get voted in longer than they should and guys who deserve to go don’t always get to. It’s the whole league. It’s not just an AFC and NFC thing. So to me this is the honor I hold the highest. It’s something to put on the resume and tell the grandkids about.”
One rookie made the squad: Arizona’s Patrick Peterson was selected as the kick returner. Peterson tied an NFL mark when he ran back four punts for touchdowns, including a 99-yarder in overtime to beat the Rams.
“It’s special to be the only rookie on the list and a nice way to end my first NFL season,” said Peterson, a cornerback.
Another cornerback, Darrelle Revis of the Jets, was behind Johnson and Allen with 48 selections. Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs got 47.
One oddity: Both first-team guards, Carl Nicks and Jahri Evans, were from the Saints. That has not occurred since 1953, with Detroit’s Lou Creekmur and Dick Stanfel.
In the All-Pro backfield joining Rodgers, whose quarterback rating of 122.5 broke Peyton Manning’s single-season mark, were Maurice Jones-Drew of Jacksonville, LeSean McCoy of Philadelphia, and fullback Vonta Leach of Baltimore.
It’s the first All-Pro selections for Jones-Drew, the league’s rushing leader with 1,606 yards, and McCoy. Leach made it last year with Houston.
“It is a we thing, not a me thing,” Jones-Drew said, praising his teammates on offense and his coaches. “The guys who don’t get the glory and keep blocking all day, and the coaches who don’t get enough credit, it’s for them.”
McCoy scored 20 touchdowns, 17 rushing, and was the brightest spot in a down year for the hyped Eagles. Yet ...
“There are so many things I can do better,” he said. “I look at the numbers and see so many plays I left on the field, so many yards. I can perfect my game a lot more.”
Record-setter Rob Gronkowski was the tight end. The Patriot set the single-season mark at his position with 1,327 yards receiving. Teammate Wes Welker (league-high 122 catches) was the other receiver.
Pittsburgh’s Maurkice Pouncey was the center, with Philadelphia’s Jason Peters and Cleveland’s Joe Thomas at tackle.
Joining Allen on the defensive line were ends Jason Pierre-Paul of the Giants, and tackles Haloti Ngata of the Ravens and Justin Smith of the 49ers — who also placed third at DE; the 49ers used him at both spots.
The linebackers were Suggs and DeMarcus Ware of Dallas on the outside, Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman of the 49ers and Derrick Johnson of the Chiefs on the inside. Bowman and Johnson tied with 16 votes, half of Willis’ total.
Revis and Charles Woodson of the Packers were the cornerbacks, with Troy Polamalu of the Steelers and Eric Weddle of the Chargers at safety.
Both kickers were 49ers: placekicker David Akers and punter Andy Lee.
Repeaters from 2010 were Polamalu, Revis, Willis, Ngata, Evans, Thomas and Leach.
In addition to Johnson, Jones-Drew, McCoy and Peterson, other first-timers were Gronkowski, Nicks, Peters, Pouncey, Pierre-Paul, Smith, Suggs, Bowman, Johnson and Weddle.
The 49ers led the All-Pro Team with five players, a testament to the turnaround in San Francisco under new coach Jim Harbaugh. Baltimore was next with three players. The Ravens are coached by Jim Harbaugh’s brother, John, whose team beat the 49ers on Thanksgiving night.
There were 16 players from the NFC and 12 from the AFC.