Faulk, Strahan Unanimous AP All-Pros
Saturday, January 12th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6
Michael Strahan, who set the single-season sacks record, and Marshall Faulk, with yet another 2000-yard season, were unanimous choices Saturday to The Associated Press NFL All-Pro Team.
While Strahan was the only member of the New York Giants on the squad, Faulk's St. Louis Rams were well-represented. In addition to Faulk, who rushed for 1,382 yards, had 765 yards receiving on 83 catches _ best among NFL running backs _ for a total of 2,147 from scrimmage and scored 21 touchdowns, teammates Kurt Warner, Orlando Pace and Aeneas Williams were selected.
On Wednesday, Warner was voted the NFL's Most Valuable Player for the second time in three years. The quarterback also made his second All-Pro Team _ both previous honors came in 1999.
Joining the two Rams stars in the All-Pro backfield was Kansas City's Priest Holmes, who led the league in rushing (1,555) and total yards (2,169). Not bad for a player deemed expendable by the Ravens after they won the Super Bowl last year.
Holmes edged Curtis Martin of the Jets by one vote.
Strahan had 22 1/2 sacks in 2001, surpassing the league record of 22 set in 1984 by Mark Gastineau of the Jets. Coincidentally, the other defensive end chosen in balloting by a nationwide panel of 50 sports writers and broadcasters who cover the NFL was the Jets' John Abraham.
``I think the biggest difference between my game and getting the sacks, as opposed to not getting them, was that mentally I was a little more positive about getting them,'' Strahan said. ``I think it's such mental game when you visualize yourself making a play, you have to finish that play in your head.''
Pace's partner at tackle was Walter Jones of Seattle. The Jets' Kevin Mawae was selected at center, with Pittsburgh's Alan Faneca and Dallas' Larry Allen at guard.
Chosen at wide receiver, probably the deepest position in the NFL this season, were David Boston of Arizona and Terrell Owens of San Francisco. Boston had career highs of 98 receptions for a league-leading 1,598 yards and eight touchdowns. Owens had 93 catches for 1,412 yards and a league-high 16 touchdowns.
Kansas City's Tony Gonzalez made it at tight end for the third straight year.
Philadelphia's David Akers was the kicker. Akers made 26 of 32 field goals and 37 of 38 extra points for 115 points.
``I feel confident when I go out and kick the ball that it's going through,'' Akers said. ``I'm not automatic. I'm not a machine. I've got blood going through my veins. When I go up there, I'm confident _ that doesn't mean it's always going to go through.''
One rookie, kick returner Steve Smith of Carolina, made the team.
``It's an honor, just being a rookie and getting the accolades I have is tremendous,'' said Smith, who paced the NFC with 1,431 yards on kickoff runbacks (with two TDs) and had a 10.7 average with one score on punt returns. ``A lot of things I have accomplished this year have been goals I set for myself for down the line, and here they are now, and it's kind of mind-boggling.
Oddly, the Panthers, who had the league's worst record (1-15) and set an ignominious mark by losing 15 in a row, were doubly honored, because punter Todd Sauerbrun was chosen. Sauerbrun easily led the league with a 47.5 gross average, far ahead of the competition.
Along with Strahan and Abraham on the defensive line were tackles Ted Washington of Chicago and Warren Sapp of Tampa Bay. Only Sapp made previous All-Pro teams, in 1999 and 2000.
Inside linebackers Brian Urlacher of Chicago and Ray Lewis of Baltimore received strong support, getting 47 and 40 votes, respectively. They were joined on the outside by Jason Gildon of Pittsburgh and Jamir Miller of Cleveland.
The other cornerback with Williams was Ronde Barber of Tampa Bay, who tied for the NFL lead with 10 interceptions.
``I think my game continually has evolved,'' Barber said. ``I always want to say I'm a better player the next year. But to me, in my mind, my progression as a football player, that's what I expected.''
The safeties were Brian Dawkins of Philadelphia and Mike Brown of Chicago.
While St. Louis had the most players, the Bears were strongly represented in their turnaround season with three. In all, there were 17 NFC players and nine from the AFC.
Repeaters from last year were Faulk, Gonzalez, Owens, Allen, Sapp and Lewis.