In 2011, Peyton Manning underwent multiple neck surgeries and was told by doctors that his NFL career might be over. Three years later, the 37-year-old quarterback has won the NFL MVP award yet again after a record-setting regular season. He beat out 2013 rushing champion LeSean McCoy, Drew Brees, Cam Newton and Russell Wilson for his latest individual honor.
This is an unprecedented fifth MVP award for Manning and his first with the Broncos. Before joining Denver in 2012, he spent 13 seasons in Indianapolis, where he won four MVPs and one Super Bowl with the Colts. Manning already had won more MVP awards than any player in history entering this year, and he now extends his lead over three-time winners Jim Brown, Johnny Unitas and Brett Favre. The closest active player is Tom Brady with two MVP awards.
On a statistical level, Manning's 2013 season was amazing, astronomical, insane. Pick any adjective you'd like to describe it because they're all appropriate. It's easily one the of the greatest regular seasons by an NFL quarterback, if not the greatest.
Manning threw for 5,477 regular season yards, breaking Drew Brees' single-season record, set in 2011, by a single yard. He also set the record for most touchdown passes in a season with 55, smashing Tom Brady's total from 2007 by five. His completion percentage (68.3 percent) and yards per pass (8.3) were right up there with Brees' and Brady's best years as well.
This is the 13th time Manning has eclipsed the 4,000-yard mark in his career, which is another NFL record. It's also his eighth season with at least 30 touchdown passes; only Brett Favre has more with nine. All that from a 37-year-old in his 16th NFL season, three years removed from surgeries that nearly ended his career. Not too shabby.
He led the Broncos to a 13-3 record in 2013, good for first place in the AFC West and home field throughout the playoffs. He'll try and lead them to a Super Bowl title next, as they're set to take on the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.
Manning was a shoe-in to win this award, but there were definitely some other strong candidates this season. McCoy was the only other player who could realistically win the award, though. McCoy took the NFL's rushing title this season by putting up 1,607 yards on the ground; that was almost 300 more yards than Matt Forte, the man in second place.
But McCoy had much more than his rushing yardage. Adding to his prolific yardage and nine touchdowns on the ground were 52 receptions for 539 yards and two touchdowns through the air. In another year, McCoy might have been a shoe-in for MVP honors, but Manning was just too good this year.
It might be the best season a quarterback has ever had in the NFL, especially if he manages to secure a Super Bowl ring.