NEW ORLEANS —
Also honored were:
—Washington’s Robert Griffin III, who beat out a strong crop of quarterbacks for the top offensive rookie award.
— Houston end J.J. Watt, who took Defensive Player of the Year, getting 49 of 50 votes.
— Bruce Arians, the first interim coach to win Coach of the Year after leading Indianapolis to a 9-3 record while head man Chuck Pagano was being treated for leukemia. Arians became Arizona’s head coach last month.
—Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly, the league’s leader in tackles with 164, who won the top defensive rookie award.
Peterson returned better than ever from the left knee surgery, rushing for 2,097 yards, 9 short of breaking Dickerson’s record. He also sparked the Vikings’ turnaround from 3-13 to 10-6 and a wild-card playoff berth.
He received 30 1-2 votes to 19 1-2 for Manning.
“I played my heart out, every opportunity I had,” Peterson said. “The result of that is not what I wanted, which is being in the Super Bowl game. But I have a couple of good pieces of hardware to bring back and (put) in my statue area. So it feels good.”
Was the knee injury the toughest thing he’d ever overcome?
“Losing my brother at 7, seeing him get hit by a car right in front of me, that was the toughest,” he said. “But as far as injuries, yes.”
New England QB Tom Brady was the last winner of MVP and Offensive Player in 2010.
“Trying to get two or three like Peyton, trying to get to your level,” Peterson said of his first MVP award. “But I won’t be there to accept it because I’ll be winning with my coach, the most important award, the team award, the Super Bowl.”
Dickerson predicted Peterson could get back to 2,000 yards.
“I hope he does have a chance to do it again,” Dickerson said, adding with a laugh, “but do I want him to break it? No, I do not.”