As Super Bowl Sunday passes, so does another NFL season, and what an interesting year it was. From replacement referees and the post bounty-gate New Orleans Saints to the return of Peyton Manning and the rise of the Atlanta Falcons, there were a lot of interesting story lines this past season. Here are some of the highlights and lowlights that the National Football League brought to our televisions every Sunday, as well as our report on the outcome of the Super Bowl.
Rookie Quarterbacks Ball Out
Simply, this may be one of the better quarterback draft classes of the past decade. The first and second choices, Indianapolis’s Andrew Luck and Washington’s Robert Griffin III, respectively, were two of the best players in the NFL. Both young men were able to step up to the pressure of the top two picks in the 2012 draft and performed well.
Luck had added pressure, taking over for future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning. In the season before, the Colts went 2-14 without their fearless leader, who was cut and went to Denver (more on him later). Also, head coach Chuck Pagano was receiving treatment for cancer for the majority of the season. So what was Luck to do? Ball hard. The former Stanford Cardinal threw for over 4,374 yards and 23 touchdowns, breaking Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton’s rookie passing yards record. Luck got the Colts to an 11-5 record and the playoffs, building a solid structure for the future of the organization.
RG III was a different story. He dazzled Redskins fans as he threw for 3,200 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions and ran for 815 yards and 7 touchdowns. Griffin got the Redskins the NFC East title and back to the playoffs for the first time since 2007. Plus, the Heisman winner was just a classy neighbor. However, fans will have to wait longer than normal to see him again, thanks to an ACL and LCL injury in the playoffs game lost to the Seattle Seahawks. The 2012 AP Offensive Rookie of The Year and Pro Bowl nominated QB is expected to be out at the start of next season. The good news? Fellow rookie and QB #2, Kirk Cousins will be ready, after having to take over a couple of games for his injury-prone teammate.
Finally, there is Russell Wilson, drafted in the third round. Some critics have compared him to Drew Brees, due to the pair’s shared 5’11” stature, a height considered too short to play quarterback in the NFL. To that notion, both men have said, “Ha!” Wilson this season exceeded expectations, passing for over 3,000 yards and 26 touchdowns. The Seattle Seahawks not only made the playoffs, but Wilson took down giants like the New England Patriots and the San Francisco 49ers. And putting his team within spitting distance of the NFC championship game? Not bad for the Wisconsin QB, who went into pre-season third on the depth chart.
NY Jets: The Shit-Show at MetLife Stadium
Basically, the Jets should just forget the 2012 season. The defense at times saved this team but could only do so much, leading to a 6-10 record. The offense was not up to snuff this season, and can be attributed to QB Mark Sanchez. In his first two seasons, Sanchez took the team to the AFC championship game. This season, he regressed a lot. During the regular season, Sanchez maintained a 66.9 Quarterback Rating, placing him as the 31st best QB in the NFL. On this list, there are only 32 that qualify.
His poor play may have to do with the lack of strong receivers on the Jets roster or the QB controversy brewed by the organization bringing in Tim “Florida’s Jesus” Tebow to be his back-up. The Tim Tebow, who in the previous season had worked his way from being the back-up to running the show. They should write a book about this. Then again, the team just wanted him for the novelty of his name. This situation got so bad that Coach Rex Ryan benched Sanchez for third string QB Greg McElroy, but only for a game.
Now the Jets have hit the reset button, but not entirely. They have gotten rid of most of the coaching staff and are being projected to select a quarterback in this year’s draft. To be honest, would you panic if your quarterback did this? Thought so.
Adrian Peterson, Comeback King
2012 AP NFL MVP. 2012 AP Offensive Player of the Year. 2012 All-Pro Team member. 2x 2012 NFC Player of the Week. This is a list of some of the accolades that Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson received this season as he chased history. Peterson finished the season with 2,097 rushing yards, only 9 yards off of Eric Dickerson’s single season record. He did all this after going down in December of the 2011 season with a torn ACL and MCL. The usual timing for recovery is closer to 10 months to a year. Peterson, also know as A.D. (All Day), was listed as questionable during week one. He then ran for 84 yards and 2 touchdowns, 8 months after his injury. Twice this season, Peterson had runs of 82 yards. RG III should be taking notes on how to make a comeback.
Finally, There Was The Super Bowl and Boy Was It a Doozy
The season ended just as many expected–with a great game. The Baltimore Ravens came out hot early in the game, leading 21-6 going into halftime, thanks to three TD from QB Joe Flacco. In Ray Lewis last game, the defense was also as forceful as ever. At the same time, the 49ers were able to make a late come back and storm back into the game behind second year QB Colin Kaepernick, who threw and ran for a touchdown each. The 49ers were able to score 17 points in the third quarter alone and came close in the end of the game to winning, coming back from a 15 point defecit, but the Ravens proved to be too much and older brother John Harbaugh has the bragging rights, as his team won 34-31. The Super Bowl MVP was Raven QB Flacco, who threw for 287 yards, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions.
All in all, this was great season full of great story lines and really interesting characters. Hopefully the 2013 season can live up to it, but then again it might be hard seeing as how it ended with the fourth highest scoring Super Bowl.