Ravens QB Lamar Jackson is NFL MVP for second time, Texans sweep rookie awards, Browns win four league honors

AP photo by Matt York / Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson poses after winning the NFL MVP award at NFL Honors on Thursday night in Las Vegas, the site of Super Bowl LVIII between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.
AP photo by Matt York / Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson poses after winning the NFL MVP award at NFL Honors on Thursday night in Las Vegas, the site of Super Bowl LVIII between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

LAS VEGAS — Accepting the NFL's top individual award in person was bittersweet for Lamar Jackson.

Jackson was revealed as a nearly unanimous choice for his second league MVP award, announced at NFL Honors on Thursday night, but the quarterback's Baltimore Ravens fell one win short of playing in Sunday's Super Bowl.

"I'd rather send in a video to win the award," Jackson said. "To be here for the award, it's an honor, but I'd rather be in the Super Bowl accepting this award."

Jackson, who was the first-team quarterback for this season's All-Pro team, received 49 of 50 first-place votes from a nationwide panel of voters that includes media members who regularly cover the NFL, former players and coaches.

Jackson led the Ravens to the NFL's best record in the regular season at 13-4, but after a first-round bye and a divisional round victory, they lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC championship game. The 27-year-old Jackson is the fourth player to win his second MVP before turning 28, joining Patrick Mahomes (27), Brett Favre (27) and Jim Brown (22).

"It's an honor. I guess I'm in elite company," Jackson said.

At Super Bowl LVIII on Sunday, Mahomes' Chiefs will take on the San Francisco 49ers, who will boast the offensive player of the year in running back Christian McCaffrey. After running away with the award, he'll try to add a first Super Bowl ring to his trophy case.

Cleveland Browns edge rusher Myles Garrett beat out T.J. Watt for defensive player of the year. Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud was voted the offensive rookie of the year in a landslide. Defensive end Will Anderson Jr., Stroud's Houston teammate, won the defensive rookie of the year award, outgaining both Jalen Carter of the Philadelphia Eagles and Kobie Turner of the Los Angeles Rams by two first-place votes.

The Browns took home four awards.

Quarterback Joe Flacco, who came off the couch to lead Cleveland to the playoffs, was named comeback player of the year. Kevin Stefanski edged Houston's DeMeco Ryans for coach of the year by one first-place vote. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz won the assistant coach of the year award after guiding the league's top-ranked unit on that side of the ball.

"It was a special year for a special team," Garrett said about the Browns, who lost in the wild-card round to the Texans. "I think next year is going to be our year."

  photo  AP photo by David J. Phillip / Cleveland Browns edge rusher Myles Garrett accepts the NFL defensive player of the year award Thursday night in Las Vegas.
 
 

Despite his disappointment over losing the AFC title game, it was also a special year for Jackson.

The one first-place MVP vote he didn't receive went to Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen. Jackson threw for 3,678 yards and 24 touchdowns and ran for 821 yards and five scores during the regular season while leading Baltimore to a record 10 wins over teams that finished with a winning record. He helped the Ravens rout Houston in the divisional round but struggled in a 17-10 loss to the Chiefs in the AFC title game.

McCaffrey received 39 of 50 first-place votes for offensive player of the year, outpacing Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill. A unanimous choice for All-Pro, McCaffrey led the NFL with 1,459 rushing yards and had 14 touchdown runs. He also had 564 receiving yards for seven scores.

"I feel so fortunate to be part of the best organization on the planet, so thank you for believing in me," McCaffrey said.

Garrett was equally dominant on the other side of the ball. He received 23 first-place votes and 165 points to beat out Watt for defensive player of the year. Despite constant double-teams, Garrett had 14 sacks, 30 quarterback hits, 17 tackles for loss and four forced fumbles, and he forced offensive coordinators to avoid his side of the field.

Stroud received 48 of 50 first-place votes for offensive rookie of the year, with Rams receiver Puka Nacua getting the other two. The No. 2 overall pick in last year's draft, Stroud threw for 4,108 yards, 23 touchdowns, five interceptions and had a passer rating of 100.8, third-best by a rookie. He helped the Texans go from worst to first place in the AFC South Division and led them to the playoff win over the Browns.

"I'm the type of person who wonders what's next and what I can do better, but reflecting on the season, being my first, it's special just to be in the NFL, let alone on a winning team," Stroud said.

Anderson and Stroud are the fourth teammates to win the offensive and defensive rookie awards in the same season. Just last year, receiver Garrett Wilson and cornerback Sauce Gardner swept the awards for the New York Jets.

"It means the absolute world," Anderson said about him and Stroud winning. "Just watching how he comes to work every day, the preparation he put in and rebuilding the culture and being captains our rookie year, it's special."

  photo  AP photo by David J. Phillip / Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud accepts the NFL offensive rookie of the year award Thursday night in Las Vegas.
 
 

Flacco beat out Bills safety Damar Hamlin and Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield for the comeback award. He received 13 first-place votes, 26 second-place votes and eight thirds to finish with 151 points.

Hamlin returned to the NFL this season after collapsing on the field and needing to be resuscitated after a cardiac arrest during a game on Jan. 2, 2023. He played in five regular-season games. Hamlin received 21 first-place votes but appeared on 42 of 50 ballots, while Flacco was on 47. Hamlin got seven second-place votes and 14 thirds for 140 points.

Flacco, the 39-year-old former Super Bowl MVP, was home in New Jersey with his family when Cleveland called him in November, having yet to catch on with a team in 2023. He went 4-1 in five starts and passed for 300-plus yards in four straight games with 13 touchdowns.

Stefanski led the Browns to their third playoff appearance since 1999 despite losing quarterback Deshaun Watson, star running back Nick Chubb and right tackle Jack Conklin to season-ending injuries and starting five players at quarterback.

Cleveland's Schwartz received 25 first-place votes and finished with 160 points, easily outpacing Mike Macdonald in the assistant award races. Macdonald, Baltimore's defensive coordinator this season, has since been hired as head coach of the Seattle Seahawks.

Pittsburgh Steelers defensive lineman Cam Heyward was honored as the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year.

This was the sixth time the Steelers nominated Heyward for the award. He created the Heyward House Foundation that supports several initiatives in the Pittsburgh area.

"I want to say thank you to the Pittsburgh Steelers for giving me this opportunity," Heyward said. "Mike T (Tomlin), it's an honor to be coached by you. I couldn't play for any other coach. To my teammates, I'm thankful to be your teammate."

The foundation also honors his late father, Craig "Ironhead" Heyward, a fullback who played 11 seasons in the NFL. He died in 2006 at 39 of brain cancer.

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