Landon Collins' second season in the NFL vaulted him to a status among the league's elite defenders. But he fell just short of winning the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year award.
Collins, 23, was a finalist for the award that went to Khalil Mack, the linebacker/defensive end for the Oakland Raiders, at the NFL Honors ceremony in Houston on Saturday night. Mack had 11 sacks, an interception, three passes defensed and five forced fumbles during the season. He was also credited with 26 quarterback hits, which the NFL said was second in the league.
Of course, Collins had some outstanding numbers too. He had five interceptions - including one returned for a touchdown -- 13 passes defensed and four sacks as he helped the Giants go from the NFL's worst defense a year ago to one of the best in the league.
Collins finished third in the voting from the nationwide panel of 50 media members. He got nine votes, putting him behind Mack (18) and Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller (17), who had 13 ½ sacks. Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald got three votes, Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee got two and Chiefs safety Eric Berry got one.
Collins was also in the running for same award as presented by the Pro Football Writers of America. That award, as announced a few weeks ago, also went to Mack.
The loss is probably a tough pill to swallow for Giants fans, but Mack is a worthy choice. He was one of the NFL's most dominant defenders this season, especially in a two-month span from mid-October to mid-December when he had 10 sacks in eight games.
Collins had a similarly dominant stretch from late October until Thanksgiving when he had all five of his interceptions and seven passes defensed. It likely didn't help his cause that he tailed off at the end of the season with just one sack, no interceptions and three passes defensed in the final six regular-season games.
It also probably hurt his cause that Mack was in his second season as a dominant defender, coming off a 15-game season in 2015. This was Collins' breakout season after he struggled as a rookie. He'll be a much stronger contender in the future, especially if he can have a similarly strong season next year.