Tampa Bay Buccaneers
A look at the NFL's best for 2012
TAMPA - The NFL's 93rd regular season was marked by record-breaking offenses, historic individual performances and rare durability at the game's most critical position. Twenty of the league's 32 teams started the same quarterback in every game, the most of any season since the 1970 merger, and a record 1,297 touchdowns were scored in 2012. Almost half of all games were decided by seven points or fewer and legends Johnny Unitas and Jerry Rice had long-time records chased down by Drew Brees and Calvin Johnson, respectively. Overall, it was an entertaining year, unless you were a defensive back trying to stop one of the 126 individual 300-yard passing games, the most in NFL history.Here's a look back at the best of the best. MVP: RB Adrian Peterson, Vikings. With opposing defenses loading the box and daring mediocre QB Christian Ponder to make them pay, Peterson came within nine yards of toppling Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson as the league's single-season rushing champion. By the time Peterson stopped dodging tacklers, Minnesota had secured 10 wins and the NFC's final playoff slot. Coach of the Year: Pete Carroll, Seahawks. With Week 17 in the books, Seattle has the look of the one team you don't want to meet in the postseason. Carroll stressed physicality and his enviable blend of veterans and young players responded with a relentless effort, led by rookie QB Russell Wilson. Offensive Player: WR Calvin Johnson, Lions. In breaking Rice's record of 1,848 receiving yards, Johnson reinforced his reputation as the league's premier playmaker. He also led the NFL with 122 catches and generated 92 first downs, 13 more than any other wideout. Defensive Player: DE J.J. Watt, Texans. Watt dominated the trenches from Week 1 and never relented, winning AFC Defensive Player of the Month honors for September and December. He finished with 20.5 sacks and a startling 16 pass deflections coming off the left edge. Comeback Player: QB Peyton Manning, Broncos. Denver took a chance that Manning would recover from neck surgery and he ended up leading the AFC in passing. Riding an 11-game winning streak, the Broncos are favored to be the last team standing and Manning is a viable candidate for his fifth MVP award. Offensive Rookie: QB Robert Griffin III, Redskins. In the Year of the Rookie quarterback, Griffin, Andrew Luck and Wilson all turned in remarkable seasons. Griffin gets the nod for leading the NFL in average yards per pass attempt (8.14) and throwing only five interceptions. Defensive Rookie: LB Luke Kuechley, Panthers. With 164 stops, Kuechly became the first rookie to lead the league in tackles since Patrick Willis of the 49ers in 2007. After starting the year on the outside, Kuechly made a smooth transition to the middle when Jon Beason was sidelined in October. Executive: GM John Schneider, Seahawks. With Schneider and Carroll operating in lock-step, Seattle's draft harvest was extraordinary. Wilson proved to be a third-round gem, second-round pick Bobby Wagner excelled at middle linebacker and DE Bruce Irvin, selected 15th overall, posted eight sacks.
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