The Kansas City Chiefs announced on Saturday that linebacker Justin Houston was named the winner of the club's Derrick Thomas Award and running back/wide receiver De'Anthony Thomas earned the team's Mack Lee Hill Award. This marks Houston's second postseason recognition as he was awarded the Mack Lee Hill Award after his rookie season in 2011. Both honors were voted on by Chiefs players and will officially be presented at the 45th Annual 101 Banquet this evening.
Houston (6-3, 258) led the NFL in sacks (22.0) in 2014 and set the franchise's single-season sack record passing late Pro Football Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas' previous record of 20.0 recorded in 1990. He was 0.5 sack shy of the NFL record (22.5) set by N.Y. Giants DE, Michael Strahan in 2001. Houston has recorded 13 multi-sack games, seven of those were recorded this past season. He became just the fourth player in franchise history to record at least three seasons with double-digit sack totals (10.0 – 2012, 11.0 – 2013, 22.0 – 2014), joining LB Derrick Thomas (seven seasons), DE Neil Smith (four seasons) and LB Tamba Hali (three seasons). He added a career-high 25 quarterback pressures and four forced fumbles during the 2014 season.
Justin Houston during the 2014 season.
The fourth-year standout was named a first-team All-Pro by the Associated Press following the 2014 season, marking the first time he has earned that recognition in his career. He added a third-consecutive trip to the Pro Bowl hosted in Glendale, Ari, to the list of postseason honors. The Statesboro, Ga. Native and former Georgia Bulldog has recorded 248 tackles, 48.5 sacks, 19 passes defensed, one interception, seven forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and 71 quarterback pressures in his NFL career. Kansas City selected him in the third round (70th overall) in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Thomas (5-8,176) was Kansas City's fourth round draft pick (124th overall) in the 2014 NFL draft. In his first year in the NFL, Thomas led the AFC in punt return yards (405) and was named to the PFWA's 2015 All-Rookie Team as a punt returner. After missing the first four games, he made his rookie debut against San Francisco (10/5) recording his first rushing touchdown on a 17-yard carry. His breakout special teams performance in Week 15 vs. Oakland (12/14) earned him his first AFC Special Teams Player of the Week award after he recorded 156 punt return yards, including an 81-yard touchdown. Additionally, Thomas' 156 punt return yards against the Raiders ranks as the second-highest single-game total in franchise history. In total, he posted 14 carries for 113 yards, including one touchdown and caught 23 passes for 156 yards in 2014. He also returned 34 punts for 405 yards with one touchdown and 14 kickoffs for 428 yards during his rookie campaign.
Highlights from De'Anthony Thomas' 2014 season.
Thomas built an impressive resume over the course of three years at the University of Oregon prior to joining the Chiefs. As a Duck, he played in 37 games posting 243 carries for 1,961 yards with 26 touchdowns and recorded 113 receptions for 1,296 yards with 15 touchdowns. He also returned 16 punts for 274 yards with one touchdown and took back 73 kickoffs for 1,885 yards and four touchdowns. In 2012, he became the first Oregon player in 47 years to score touchdowns rushing, receiving, returning punts and kickoffs in the same season. He sits atop Oregon's record book for touchdowns by a freshman (18). Thomas attended Crenshaw High School in his hometown Los Angeles, Calif.