NFL: Ryan, Mayo top rookies

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Associated Press
NEW YORK ó Matt Ryan found a quick way to make Falcons fans forget Michael Vick, Bobby Petrino and all the ugliness of Atlanta football.
The quarterback led a sensational turnaround from laughingstock to Super Bowl contender, for which Ryan earned The Associated Press 2008 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award Tuesday.
And he did it in a year loaded with outstanding offensive rookie performances.
“I’m certainly flattered,” Ryan said. “There’s a number of guys who had great rookie seasons this year, so to even be mentioned in that light is nice. It’s certainly a great honor, and I think it speaks to what we did as a team this year.”
What the Falcons did was go 11-5 and make the playoffs after a dismal 2007 that saw Vick incarcerated for dogfighting and Petrino leave after 13 games to go coach Arkansas. Ryan was chosen third overall out of Boston College to be the cornerstone of Atlanta’s rebuilding.
Few quarterbacks make so much out of their first NFL seasons. Since 1957, when the award was first given, only three quarterbacks have won it, all recently: Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger in 2004, Tennessee’s Vince Young in 2006, and Ryan.
DEFENSIVE AWARD
NEW YORKó Jerod Mayo firmly answered everyone who criticized the Patriots for taking him with the 10th pick in April’s draft by winning The Associated Press 2008 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award.
Mayo was a nearly unanimous choice, earning 49 of 50 votes Wednesday from a nationwide panel of sports writers and broadcasters who cover the league. He was the outstanding performer on a linebacking corps that often struggled during New England’s 11-5 season, leading the team in tackles.
“I knew when they first called my name at the draft I was going to an organization that knew how to win,” Mayo said. “They knew how to prepare for games and things like that.”
Mayo’s versatility, highlighted by quickness and a physical style, made him stand out
BC-BKNóNBA Capsules,0479NBA CapsulesBy The Associated PressAUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) ó Allen Iverson scored 19 points, and Tayshaun Prince added 16 to help the undermanned Detroit Pistons win their fifth straight game, 83-75 over the New Jersey Nets on Wednesday.
Both teams lost key players during the game. New Jersey’s Vince Carter was ejected after for arguing a second-quarter call with referee Derrick Stafford, and Rasheed Wallace didn’t play in the second half after injuring his foot in the first quarter.
Detroit’s Richard Hamilton (groin) missed his third straight game, and Antonio McDyess sat out after injuring his ribs Monday in a win over Orlando.
Rookie Brook Lopez led the Nets with 23 points and 12 rebounds in their lowest-scoring game of the season. Devin Harris added 19 points.
Magic 113, Bulls 94CHICAGO (AP) ó Rashard Lewis set the tone by scoring 16 of his 21 points in the first half and Orlando rolled over Chicago for its eighth win in nine games.
Hedo Turkoglu added 18 points. Dwight Howard scored 15, and the Southeast Division leaders came through with a dominant performance after their seven-game win streak ended in a six-point loss at Detroit on Monday.
The Bulls were coming off a 13-point win at New Jersey, but instead of building on that, they got blown out of their own building. Joakim Noah came through with a season-high 19 points and 11 rebounds. Larry Hughes scored 15 and Ben Gordon 18, but Chicago shot just 42 percent.
Derrick Rose had a rough afternoon finishing with just 11 points and no assists.
Rockets 85, Bucks 81HOUSTON (AP) ó Yao Ming had 22 points and 10 rebounds, Luis Scola added 11 points and 10 boards, and Houston beat Milwaukee.
Ron Artest had 15 points and reserve Carl Landry added 14 as the Rockets beat the Bucks for the eighth straight time, bouncing back from an embarrassing loss to Washington on Monday.
Michael Redd scored 20, Richard Jefferson had 16 and Luke Ridnour dished out 11 assists for the Bucks, who’ve lost nine consecutive games in Houston.
Nuggets 114, Raptors 107TORONTO (AP) ó Nene scored 21 points, Carmelo Anthony added 20 and Denver beat Toronto to give coach George Karl his 900th regular-season victory.
Chauncey Billups scored 18 points and J.R. Smith had 16 for Denver, with Kenyon Martin adding 15 points and reserves Linas Kleiza and Chris Andersen each scoring 10.
Andrea Bargnani scored 26 points and Chris Bosh added 24 points and 11 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough for the Raptors, who have lost 13 of 17.

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