The 2012 NFL regular season is in the books and before the NFL Playoffs kick into gear, we’re wrapping up the regular season by handing out some hardware.
MVP: Adrian Peterson
He just keeps coming. All day. Only one year off major knee surgery and he came within 9 yards of breaking the all-time rushing record. In five games this month, Peterson rushed for 861 yards – which, by itself, would be 19th in the NFL’s total rushing standings this season.
Offensive Player of the Year: Peyton Manning
It was difficult to pick Peterson ahead of him for MVP as Manning has had one of his best years leading the Denver Broncos back into the limelight but he just edges it, as the Broncos would be lost without him.
Defensive Player of the Year: JJ Watt
Watt finished with 20.5 sacks and 16 pass deflections and was, simply, a nightmare for offenses to plan for. Probably the best season a 3-4 End has had in NFL history.
Offensive Rookie: Russell Wilson
Wilson has been a revelation since the Seattle Seahawks selected him in the draft. Taken to back up their big free agent acquisition Matt Flynn, no one expected Wilson to win the starting job. Even fewer people expected him to lead the Seahawks to big wins over the New England Patriots and the San Francisco 49ers.
Defensive Rookie: Casey Hayward
He has the fourth most interceptions in the league and hasn’t allowed a single touchdown to be caught by a receiver he’s covered. This was a close call though; I also considered Bobby Wagner who has been a tremendous addition to the Seahawks linebackers core.
Comeback Player: Adrian Peterson
Peyton Manning has been incredible too but, fresh off major knee surgery, and playing one of the most demanding positions, Peterson has been unstoppable. Although he didn’t reach Eric Dickerson’s rushing record this year, don’t be surprised to him go for it again next season.
Ben Soro-Perez is a sports journalism student. He writes mainly on the NFL, soccer and motor-sport. You can follow him on Twitter at @TheSoroPerez