NFL Honors 2013: Voters Make Perfect Selection at Every Award
Following Saturday night's unveiling of NFL honors, it's hard to argue that any of these players didn't deserve the award for their astonishing seasons.
In each category, there was at least one other name attached to these award winners at some point during the season, but they distanced themselves from the rest to reach NFL honor.
Some will make an argument for Russell Wilson for Offensive Rookie of the Year or Peyton Manning for MVP, but the voters got it right this year.
MVP: Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings
For a while there it looked like it was neck and neck (no pun intended) between Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson for the league's MVP honor, but AP just ran away with it.
Peterson led the NFL in rushing, eclipsing the 2,000-yard mark and coming up a mere nine yards short of breaking Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record.
Peterson became just the seventh back in NFL history to reach the 2,000-yard plateau in a season, joining company like O.J. Simpson, Barry Sanders, Terrell Davis and, of course, Dickerson.
Manning had one of the best quarterbacking seasons of his career, but he didn't blow away his fellow QBs like Peterson did with the running backs.
The odds of us seeing another rushing performance of this caliber anytime soon aren't likely.
Offensive Player of the Year: Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings
Along with Peterson, you could throw in names like Calvin Johnson and Drew Brees into the mix, but their 2012 seasons didn't hold a candle to what AP accomplished.
Peterson rushed for nearly 500 yards more than the second-leading rusher in the NFL (Alfred Morris), averaged six yards per carry and boasted 131 YPG.
Calvin Johnson was certainly impressive, accumulating 1,964 receiving yards, but his five touchdowns weren't enough to sway voters.
Drew Brees was the only QB to throw for more than 5,000 yards in 2012 but he didn't do enough to distance himself from other quarterbacks.
Peterson is your clear-cut MVP and Offensive Player of the Year.
Defensive Player of the Year: J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans
There wasn't a single defender in the NFL this season that was more unstoppable than J.J. Watt.
Aldon Smith gave Watt a run for his money through the first 13 weeks of the season, but Smith's inconsistency down the stretch ultimately gave way for Watt to win the award.
The Houston DE led the league in sacks (20.5) while boasting 81 total tackles, 16 passes defended (most by a non-DB) and four forced fumbles.
After Smith—who obviously didn't deserve the award for his lack of performance in the final weeks of the season—it's hard to come up with another player who could even come close to rivaling Watt for the prestigious award.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins
While you could undoubtedly make an argument for Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck or Doug Martin, the fact is that Robert Griffin III had the best season of any rookie in the NFL.
We're going to negate Martin from the conversation immediately. While he had one heck of a season, it just doesn't compare to what these three rookie QBs did in 2012.
So out of RGIII, Wilson and Luck, Griffin had the higher completion percentage (65.6), passer rating (102.4), the least interceptions (five), the most rushing yards (815) and the most rushing touchdowns (seven).
Luck edged all in passing yardage while Wilson led the way in touchdown passes, but no one dominated across the board like RGIII.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Luke Kuechly, LB, Carolina Panthers
When you lead the entire league in tackles, odds are you're going to bring home the hardware.
As a rookie in the NFL, Carolina LB Luke Kuechly boasted 164 combined tackles—15 more than runner-up NaVorro Bowman—and also added a sack and two interceptions.
Kuechly straight dominated the rookie competition.
You could make a slight case for Seattle LB Bobby Wagner (140 tackles, two sacks and three interceptions), but Kuechly had 103 total tackles to Wagner's 86 while Kuechly posted eight passes defended to Wagner's four.
Comeback Player of the Year: Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos
You had to figure if Peterson won the MVP that Manning would get Comeback Player of the Year, or vice versa.
And deservingly so.
After missing the entire 2011-12 season, Manning battled back after four neck surgeries to do some surgery of his own on opposing defenses.
The 36-year-old led the Denver Broncos to the best regular season record while throwing for more than 4,600 yards, 37 touchdowns and completing 68.6 percent of his passes.
If that's not deserving of this award, I'm not sure what is.
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