In training camp, Patrick Peterson had big plans for himself and Tyrann Mathieu.
The close friends were in a great spot professionally. Peterson had his diabetes under control and had dropped a lot of weight to get into the best shape of his career. Mathieu was finally healthy after tearing up his left knee late in 2013.
Mathieu, a safety, was promising a “Savage Season.” And Peterson, a cornerback, insisted the duo would propel the Cardinals’ defense to something great.
“We are the cornerstone on the defense for playmaking,” Peterson said then. “Everyone has the ability, but all eyes are on
“I cannot wait for the season to put all this criticism aside. ‘Has Pat lost a step?’ Or ‘Can Tyrann stay healthy?’ We cannot wait to be on the field and show the world that we’re the real deal.”
Peterson turned out to be accurate. If that wasn’t clear already, it was underscored Friday, when both players were named to the Associated Press All-Pro team. It is arguably the most prestigious postseason team, more difficult to achieve than a Pro Bowl spot.
The Panthers led the NFL with six all-pros. Amazingly, Raiders pass rusher Kahlil Mack was so impressive at his hybrid end/linebacker position that he garnered enough votes from the 50-person panel to earn first-team honors at both spots.
The Cardinals were one of five teams with two players each, joining the Patriots, Steelers, Rams and Bengals.
All told, 15 players from the NFC and 12 from the AFC made it. Peterson got 26 votes. Mathieu had 31 and was the leading vote-getting at safety, although he also got two votes at cornerback.
Mathieu earned his spot despite missing the final two games with a season-ending torn ACL. Mathieu had surgery to repair his right knee earlier this week. The Honey Badger still was third on the team with 89 tackles – 80 solo – with a sack, five interceptions (tying safety Rashad Johnson with the team lead) and a team-best 16 pass deflections.
Peterson’s numbers in themselves weren’t spectacular – 35 tackles, two interceptions – but that was because teams rarely threw at him all season. Pro Football Focus had Peterson allowing the second lowest catch rate against him (47.7 percent) in the league and he allowed the fewest catches and fewest yards out of any full-time cornerback in the NFL.
In short, he and Mathieu had exactly the kind of season Peterson had promised back in August.