CHARLOTTE – The Panthers went 4-1 in December, and rookie middle linebacker Luke Kuechly has been honored for his performance in the season's final month.
Kuechly, who finished as the NFL leader in tackles, won NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month after posting 59 stops in the final five games – the most in the NFL over that stretch. Kuechly posted double-digit tackle totals in three of the five games in December, including a career-high 16 tackles vs. Atlanta in Week 14.
Kuechly also recorded an interception, one sack and four passes defensed in December.
"We were really able to finish strong in the month of December. We played well as a whole defense. The individual things are a representation of the whole team. But it's something cool to win and I'm glad it happened," Kuechly said.
With Kuechly leading the defense, the Panthers allowed just 164 and 189 yards to San Diego and Oakland respectively, and the 353 total net yards are the fewest allowed by the Panthers over a two game span since Nov. 13-19, 2006 (333).
"We found a groove at the end of the year," Kuechly said. "We clicked and figured out how to play off each other and I think it showed."
Kuechly is the first Panther to win Defensive Rookie of Month since defensive end Julius Peppers in October 2002.
Quarterback Cam Newton won Offensive Rookie of the Month in September 2011 and quarterback Matt Moore received the honor in December 2007.