Cincinnati native Kuechly AP's top defensive player

Luke Kuechly #59 of the Carolina Panthers in action during NFL game action against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on September 15, 2013 in Orchard Park, New York.

Tom Szczerbowski / Getty Images North America

NEW YORK (AP) -- Luke Kuechly has been voted The Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year, adding the honor to his top defensive rookie award of 2012.

Carolina's All-Pro linebacker received 19 votes from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the league in balloting announced Saturday night. He beat out Indianapolis All-Pro linebacker Robert Mathis, who earned 11 votes.

Kuechly was credited with 96 tackles for a defense that allowed 241 points, fewer than any team except NFC champion Seattle. He also had four interceptions, two sacks, eight passes defensed, and was a presence from sideline to sideline on the NFL's No. 2 unit.

Two Seahawks All-Pros also drew support in the voting: safety Earl Thomas (7 votes) and cornerback Richard Sherman (4).