NEW YORK – It seemed likely that the best players on both sides of the football in the NFL would be to the liking of Indianapolis football fans.
Former Colts quarterback Peyton Manning figured to be a shoe in for the league’s Offensive Player of the Year while current Indy linebacker Robert Mathis seemed a strong candidate to bring home the award for the defensive side.
But in the end, Colts fans got just one of the two they were hoping for.
As expected Manning walked away from the NFL Honors ceremony at Radio City Music Hall on Saturday night with the NFL’s offensive player of the year and 5th Most Valuable Player honor of his career. Mathis, however, ended up being bested by Panthers’ linebacker Luke Kuechly for defenisve honor.
Mathis’ career-and-franchise high 19.5 sacks for the Colts’ this season were not enough to beat Kuechly, who finished with 93 tackles, two sacks and four interceptions. While some were disappointed that Mathis didn’t come home with the top defensive honor, he was able to collect his Deacon Jones Award which he earned by picking up by leading the NFL in sacks.
In his second season in Denver, Manning enjoyed perhaps the finest season of his career as he passed for 5,477 yards and an NFL record 55 touchdowns compared to just ten interceptions on the way to reaching his third career Super Bowl. Manning’s Broncos face the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII on Sunday at Met Life Stadium.
Chargers head coach Ron Rivera was named the NFL’s Coach of the Year while the Bears’ Charles Tillman won the Walter Payton Man of the Year award. The Packers’ Eddie Lacy and the Jets’ Sheldon Richardson were named offensive and defensive Rookies of the Year, respectively.