OWINGS MILLS, Md. — After completing one of the more surprising seasons in the 19-year history of the Baltimore Ravens, veteran running back Justin Forsett was named the team’s most valuable player on Friday.
The 29-year-old was voted by the local media as team MVP in his first season with the Ravens in which he’s led all NFL running backs with a 5.3 yards per carry average and ranks sixth in the league with a career-high 1,147 rushing yards. His 2014 production currently ranks eighth on the Ravens’ all-time list of single-season rushing totals.
Signed to a one-year, $730,000 contract in early April, Forsett came to the Ravens simply hoping for a chance to make the roster and emerged to earn the starting job after Ray Rice was released on Sept. 8.
“I knew that I probably had one more shot, one more opportunity to show what I could do,” Forsett said. “I just wanted to make the best of it. I promised that if I got another chance, another play, I was going to be my best and put my best foot forward. That’s all I was trying to do, and to receive this award, it’s just another blessing.”
Forsett is tied for second with Dallas running back DeMarco Murray for the league lead in runs of 20 or more yards with 14. He needs just 53 yards in the regular-season finale to join Rice, Jamal Lewis, and Willis McGahee as the only players in franchise history to produce at least one 1,200-yard campaign.
He received AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors twice this season, once against Tennessee in Week 10 and the second coming after a career-best 182-yard rushing effort against New Orleans in Week 12.
The seventh-year running back missed out on being selected to the Pro Bowl but was chosen as a first alternate. He said being chosen as Baltimore’s MVP helped ease the sting of any lingering disappointment from the Pro Bowl announcements made earlier in the week.
“Yes, I’m OK,” said Forsett as he laughed. “Receiving the MVP and being recognized for something you put all the work in during the offseason to come out and perform — and for you guys to give me this honor — I’m happy.”
Linebacker Elvis Dumervil finished second in the team MVP voting after setting the Ravens’ single-season sack record and quarterback Joe Flacco finished third.
Wide receiver Torrey Smith was voted by the local media as the winner of the Good Guy Award, an honor bestowed upon a Ravens player viewed as particularly helpful when it comes to granting interviews and being accessible to the media. The fourth-year wideout hasn’t shied away from answering questions about on-field matters as well as other trying topics such as the Rice ordeal or defensive tackle Haloti Ngata being suspended earlier this month.
“I respect the job you do,” Smith said. “We have to be able to withstand the heat when things aren’t going well, and when we’re successful, be able to talk as well. It’s just all part of the job.”
In the final year of his rookie contract, Smith could be playing his final game with the Ravens on Sunday should they not make the playoffs and elect not to re-sign the University of Maryland product.