NEW YORK (AP) Ron Rivera took the Carolina Panthers from also-ran to division champion this season, earning him The Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year award.
Rivera's Panthers went 12-4 to take the NFC South and get a first-round playoff bye. They lost to San Francisco in the divisional round.
Rivera's fine work in his third season in charge in Carolina brought him 21 1/2 votes from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the league in balloting announced Saturday night.
That outdistanced Kansas City's Andy Reid, who got 13 1/2 votes. In his first year with the Chiefs, Reid took them from 2-14 to 11-5 and an AFC wild-card berth.
Rivera is the second Panthers coach to win the award. Dom Capers was AP Coach of the Year in 1996, Carolina's second season in the NFL.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org