They may have been ducks, but they certainly were effective.Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, who admitted earlier this week that he was “proud” to throw wobbly passes, capped one of the greatest statistical seasons in the history of the NFL with two of the league’s top honors from the Associated Press: Most Valuable Player and Offensive Player of the Year.
Manning received 49 votes from a national panel of 50 media members for the MVP award, beating out Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who received one vote. The award was announced Saturday at the 3rd Annual National Football League Honors, held in Radio City Music Hall.
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Manning broke the NFL’s single-season passing records this year with 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns, previously held by Saints quarterback Drew Brees and Brady, respectively.
“This is a very special award,” Manning said through a recorded video message. “I am extremely honored to have it presented by Joe Montana and Aaron Rodgers. I am humbled by this recognition and grateful to my family, Pat Bowlen, John Elway, John Fox and the entire Denver Bronco organization, and of course, my coaches and my teammates.”
Manning’s 2013 MVP award is his NFL-record fifth, which is also two more than any other player in the history of the game. Jim Brown, Johnny Unitas and Brett Favre each won three MVP awards during their careers.
He also becomes the first player to win MVP awards for two different teams, after his tenure with the Indianapolis Colts.
Manning can add to his trophy collection Sunday, when his Broncos face the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium.
Manning’s father, Archie, and son, Marshall, were sent to accept the award.
Defensive Player of the Year
He was as consistent as any player in the NFL and helped lead the Carolina Panthers to the NFL’s second-best total defense, which allowed an average of 301.2 yards per game.
Because of that, linebacker Luke Kuechly won the Defensive Player of the Year award after registering 156 tackles, four interceptions and two sacks.
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Kuechly edged Seahawks defensive backs Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas and Colts defensive end Robert Mathis.
“It’s a great group of guys,” Kuechly said. “Really, anybody could’ve gotten it, so it’s an honor to be up here now.”
Coach of the Year
When a coach develops a mythical persona like “Riverboat” Ron Rivera did for the Panthers, it’s easier to give him the league’s highest honor.
Rivera earned the Coach of the Year award, edging Andy Reid of the Chiefs, Bill Belichick of the Patriots, Chip Kelly of the Eagles and Pete Carroll of the Seahawks.
“This is most certainly a nice award,” Rivera said. “There are a lot of deserving coaches in this league and to be singled out is certainly an honor. I’m fortunate that there’s a group of men that worked for me that are coaches and did a tremendous job. … We’ve got a great group of players that are coachable and listen.”
Rivera led the Panthers to a 12-4 regular-season record and the NFC South title. Carolina earned a first-round bye in the playoffs, but fell to the San Francisco 49ers 23-10 in the divisional round.
Offensive Rookie of the Year
Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy’s rookie season wasn’t without difficulties, but according to the voting media, he was good enough to earn the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
“I just want to say I’m extremely excited right now,” Lacy said. “This is definitely one of the best moments of my life. I don’t know what to say, I’m speechless.”
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Lacy beat out San Diego Chargers wide receiver and Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovanni Bernard.
Although he battled concussion issues and other injuries, Lacy rushed for 1,178 yards and 11 touchdowns on 284 carries.
Defensive Rookie of the Year
New York Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson said at the end of the season that he was the NFL’s top defensive rookie. The voting media agreed and tabbed Richardson as the Defensive Rookie of the Year, beating out Buffalo Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso and Arizona Cardinals cornerback Tyrann Mathieu.
Although Richardson believed he was the best rookie defender at the end of the season, the award caught him off guard.
“I was surprised,” Richardson said. “Kiko and Tyrann most definitely had great, outstanding rookie years. It was a toss up to me, Kiko had a lot of tackles, Tyrann made a lot of plays down the field during the stretch, but unfortunately he got hurt, but most definitely, it was a tight race.”
Richardson was a force in the middle of the defensive line, racking up 78 tackles, 3.5 sacks and one forced fumble last season.