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 21Â½ 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 13Â½ 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.