Patrick Peterson believed he was playing at an “elite level” at cornerback as the season wore on for the Cardinals.
Coaches and players around the league agreed.
After finishing fourth in the fan voting, the Cardinals’ second-year star got enough push from the two-thirds of the vote from people insider the game to be named to his second straight Pro Bowl Wednesday. This time, it is as cornerback, after being named a Pro Bowl return man as a rookie in 2011.
“It solidified what I’ve been trying to get the world to see,” Peterson said Wednesday evening after the Pro Bowl rosters were announced. “I’ve been working hard to get in this position.”
Peterson was the only Cardinal to be named to the team. Linebacker
Peterson joins Chicago’s Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman as the NFC’s cornerbacks, beating out Seattle’s Richard Sherman – who had been the third player above Peterson after the fan voting.
Peterson has seven interceptions this season, tied for second in the NFL. He also has 15 passes defensed, 57 tackles and a fumble recovery while guarding the opposition’s top receiver every week. The Cardinals as a unit are third in the NFL in pass defense.
Learning both patience and the work that goes into being good were among the strides Peterson said he made this season to take a step forward as a cover man. Peterson is only the second player, along with Hall of Famer Rod Woodson, to make the Pro Bowl as both a kick return man and a defender. His punt returning hasn’t been dynamic, but Peterson – who said last year when named to the Pro Bowl he wanted to return as a cornerback – can live with it.
“Last year was a huge accomplishment, but this one is 10 times better,” Peterson said. “I wanted to set myself up to be a great cornerback. Being a good punt returner is huge but I want to be known as a great defensive back.”
Washington’s absence is both the most surprising and the least. Only two inside linebackers are chosen and the 49ers have two of the best in the league with Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman. Nevertheless, Washington – who had been third in the fan voting – has had a huge year, with nine sacks, 128 tackles, an interception, six passes defensed and 14 tackles for loss.
Said coach Ken Whisenhunt earlier in the afternoon before the rosters were announced, “Patrick has had another great year, but when you talk about being recognized by the league, I think some of the big plays that Daryl’s made consistently are important, and hopefully that gets recognized.”
Peterson said that it “sucks” Washington did not make the team.
“But it’s just the start for Daryl,” Peterson said. “He’s a key piece to this defense, he’s had an outstanding year, and it’s just the beginning for him.”
Fitzgerald is having a sub-par year, with only 69 receptions for 785 yards and four touchdowns, but his reputation around the league is sterling and the Cardinals’ struggles at quarterback are well-known.
Peterson becomes the first Cardinal since Vai Sikahema in 1986-87 to be selected to the Pro Bowl in each of his first two seasons. He’s the ninth Cardinal cornerback to make the Pro Bowl. The last was Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in 2009.