NEW ORLEANS - Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson capped his historic 2012 season by being named the league's Most Valuable Player at the NFL Honors awards show Saturday night.
Peterson beat out Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, who took home the Comeback Player of the Year award. The Vikings' star was also named the Offensive Player of the Year.
Peterson, who tore the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his knee on Dec. 24, 2011, returned to rush for 2,097 yards this season - nine shy of breaking Eric Dickerson's single-season record. Minnesota won 10 games and earned a playoff spot.
Peterson set the bar high for the 2012 season, hoping to lead the Vikings to the Super Bowl. He fell short of that mark, but said it "feels good" to win MVP honors.
"I played my heart out every opportunity I had," he said. "I got a couple of good pieces of hardware to bring back and stack in my statue area."
Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt won the Defensive Player of the Year.
Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III was named the Rookie of the Year, with Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly taking home defensive rookie honors.
RG3 was a surprise easy winner, garnering 29 of 50 first-place votes while Indianapolis' Andrew Luck (11) and Seattle's Russell Wilson (10) were a distant second and third.
"Well, it's a truly a blessing to be up here and be able to stand, first and foremost," said Griffin, who continues to recover from knee surgery. "It seems like the league's in good hands with the young quarterbacks."
Coach of the Year went to Bruce Arians, who filled in during Chuck Pagano's absence to help the Indianapolis Colts reach the postseason with an 11-5 record.
Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten was named the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, beating out Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and Cleveland Browns left tackle Joe Thomas.
"I am extremely flattered to be chosen the 2012 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year from such an esteemed group of nominees," said Witten. "I work hard every day not only to be a success on the football field and a credit to my team - but to be a good husband, father, son, grandson, teammate - to be the kind of man that is as respected as Walter Payton was.
"Like others before me, I have a great opportunity as an NFL player to make a difference in the lives of others. It is honestly humbling to be recognized in such a manner for simply doing what I feel is right and human. I am fortunate to have a great support system in my family, the Dallas Cowboys and the NFL which allows me to make an impact in the communities and with people who love our game."