NFL Awards Watch, Final Edition
That phrase is often used by coaches to describe the long and arduous regular season, but it also accurately illustrates this season's MVP race.
In a rare year in which there was never a clear-cut frontrunner, the race for MVP has resembled the presidential primary, with candidates emerging and then fading a few weeks later.
Kurt Warner took over the top spot after leading the Cardinals to the top of the NFC West with five consecutive 300-yard passing games. The two-time MVP was on fire as the league leader in passer rating and passing touchdowns at that point. But a series of poor performance against playoff caliber opponents (Eagles, Vikings and Patriots) derailed his bid for a third award.
That left the door open for an old favorite to jump back into the mix in the season's final month.
While Manning's numbers (4,002 passing yards, 27 passing touchdowns, 12 interceptions and 95.5 passer rating) don't rank at the top of the league's passing list in any category, the argument could be made that this is his finest season of his career given the circumstances. The veteran overcame his own career threatening injury to direct an offensive unit that has been plagued by numerous injuries to starters and key personnel. Despite a reshuffled lineup, the nine-time Pro Bowl quarterback adapted his game to maximize the unit's potential. The results were outstanding as the offense scored over 30 points in five of the team's last eight games and re-emerged as one of the frontrunners to represent the AFC in Super Bowl XLIII.
The league's MVP award goes to the player who is most instrumental to the success of his team, and I think the consistency, leadership and perseverance that Manning displayed makes him deserving of the league's top individual honor.