The Cerebral Assassin: Peyton Manning Wins Third NFL MVP

Vincent JacksonCorrespondent IJanuary 2, 2009

I know, I stole that nickname from pro wrestler Triple H, but that's besides the point here. Whether you love him or hate him, you have to respect him. 

Peyton Manning won his third Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player Award today, joining Brett Favre as the only three-time winners (Favre won three straight from 1995 to 1997, where he was co-winner). Dolphins QB Chad Pennington and Falcons RB Michael Turner finished a distant second and third respectively.

Manning garnered 32 of 50 first place votes; he also won MVP honors in 2003, sharing the award with Titans QB Steve McNair, and in 2004, when he set the then-single-season touchdown pass record at 49.

Manning and the Colts had an unusually slow start to this season after it was revealed that the 11-year pro had surgery to remove a bursa sac in his knee which limited velocity on some of his throws. The Colts began the season at 3-4. 

But during a nine-game winning streak where he seems to be simply unstoppable, completing 72 percent of his passes for 2,248 yards, 17 touchdowns, and three interceptions (109.6 passer rating), he has the Colts in the playoffs for the ninth straight season and is looking to win his second Super Bowl in a three-year span. 

Playing with virtually no running game and a patchwork offensive line, Manning finished the season with 4,002 yards passing, 27 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions with a 95.0 passer rating. 

The first overall pick from the 1998 draft has started every game since day one of his rookie season, 176 games ago.

Many believe Manning's MVP case was stamped after a series of thrilling fourth-quarter comebacks, the latest against Jacksonville where he threw for 364 yards and three scores. His defense sealed the deal with an interception returned for a touchdown and a sack on the final drive. 

He now heads to San Diego, the site of one of his comebacks, for the first round of the playoffs against the team that eliminated him at home last season.