HOUSTON — Matt Ryan and the Dallas Cowboys were big winners Saturday night. Mike Evans, too.
The Falcons quarterback was voted the Associated Press 2016 NFL's Most Valuable Player and top offensive player. Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott took offensive rookie of the year and Jason Garrett was selected coach of the year by a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the league.
Evans, the Bucs receiver, was honored for his one-handed catch in a Thursday night game against the Falcons in Week 9. The catch, after which he took a vicious hit from safety Keanu Neal, was named the performance play of the year.
Also judged one of the top plays of 2016 was quarterback Jameis Winston's crazy scramble and throw to Evans against the Bears.
"I didn't know I was nominated for this," Evans said. "First I'd like to thank God for allowing us to wake up and see another beautiful day. I'd like to thank my teammates, the coaching staff, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers organization and my beautiful wife Ashli for everything you do."
On the eve of the Super Bowl in which he will face off with two-time league MVP Tom Brady, who finished second in this year's balloting, Ryan easily outdistanced Brady 25-10 for MVP.
"This is an incredible honor for me," Ryan said in a prerecorded message. "Obviously, there are so many other great candidates and players who had amazing seasons. I want to thank all of (my) teammates. Obviously without them, none of this is possible."
Oakland edge rusher Khalil Mack won defensive player of the year.
JAGS OWNER SPEAKS OUT: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has declined to take a public stance on President Donald Trump's executive order to temporarily ban visits by citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries. But Jaguars owner Shahid Khan made clear he was opposed to the ban and said he was heartened when a federal judge in Seattle temporarily blocked the immigration order. Khan, 66, is the only immigrant and only Muslim owner of an NFL team.
FITZGERALD NOT DONE: Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald, 33, told the Arizona Republic he plans to return next season, the last one on his current contract.
Times staff writer Rick Stroud contributed to this report.