NEW ORLEANS — Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning didn’t win the NFL’s Most Valuable Player or Offensive Player of the Year award — both of those went to Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson — but there could be little doubt that Manning’s comeback from a lost 2011 season and several neck surgeries over the last few years was one of the most impressive feats in recent league history. Those in charge of deciding such things agreed, as Manning won the Comeback Player of the Year award on Saturday. The four-time MVP switched teams from the Indianapolis Colts prior to the 2012 season, signing a five-year, $96 million contract in March of last year. Many thought that the 15-year veteran was done after four surgeries and a nerve impingement in his throwing shoulder, but the future Hall-of-Famer proved the doubters wrong. Manning had one of his best season in a career full of them, completing 400 passes in 583 attempts for 4,659 yards, 37 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. He had more touchdowns and fewer interceptions than in his last full season of 2010, and he took a young and improving offense to entirely new heights. The Broncos had two receivers with over 1,000 yards in 2012 — Demaryius Thomas with 1,434 yards, and Eric Decker with 1,064 — and the Broncos came up just short of advancing to the AFC Championship game in a 38-35 double overtime loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the divisional round. After that tough defeat, Manning said that he’s ready to do it all over again.
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