No matter where it falls on the calendar "Black Monday" remains unforgiving.
THE SPORTS NETWORK 2012 NFL AWARDS:
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Andrew Luck, Indianapolis
You really can't argue with anyone choosing Washington's Robert Griffin III. After all RG3 finished third in the NFL in passer rating -- behind only former MVPs Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning -- added in over 800 yards rushing, and led the Redskins to their first division title since 1999.
The tipping point, however, is that Luck was asked to do far more as a quarterback, throwing the ball 627 times compared to just 393 for both Griffin and the other strong candidate, Seattle's Russell Wilson. And oh yeah, Luck also turned a moribund 2-14 club into an 11-5 playoff team.
In the running: Griffin; Wilson; Alfred Morris, Washington; Doug Martin, Tampa Bay; Matt Kalil, Minnesota
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Luke Kuechly, Carolina
Kuechly led the NFL with 164 tackles and had 10 different games of 10-or-more stops. The Boston College product's consistency from week-to-week earned him the honor over the Rams' Janoris Jenkins and Minnesota's Harrison Smith.
Jenkins returned three interceptions for touchdowns in 2012, matching the most by a rookie in NFL history. The other two rookies to accomplish the feat are both enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame: Lem Barney (1967) and Ronnie Lott (1981). Smith, meanwhile, returned two pick-sixes for the Vikings and has the length and athleticism to battle big receivers down the field.
In the running: Jenkins; Smith; Bobby Wagner, Seattle; Casey Heyward, Green Bay.
Coach of the Year: Bruce Arians, Indianapolis
The Colts were 1-2 when Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia. When Pagano returned on Sunday, Indianapolis was 10-5 and a wild card team.
Under Arians' watch, the Colts went 9-3 and secured a spot in the postseason after their win over the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 16, an unlikely run punctuated by seven comeback wins.
In the running: Leslie Frazier, Minnesota; Mike Shanahan, Washington; Pete Carroll, Seattle; John Fox, Denver
Comeback Player of the Year: Peyton Manning, Denver
If life was like professional wrestling Adrian Peterson's entrance music might be LL Cool J's "Mama Said Knock You Out."
"Don't call it a comeback, A,P.'s been here for years -- Rockin' his peers and puttin' suckas in fear. Makin' the tears rain down like a MON-soon. Listen to the bass go BOOM ... Explosion, overpowerin' over the competition, he's towerin'."
People forget Peterson was hurt on Christmas Eve in 2011 and he had a damn good year in 2011. So A.P. might be a medical miracle but this was no comeback. He ended up missing one game.
In the running: None
Offensive player of the year: Peterson
Forget the amazing comeback from major knee surgery in eight months. What Peterson has accomplished with a quarterback who often struggles to throw for 100 yards and against eight- and nine-man fronts designed to stop him on a weekly basis is unprecedented.
A cross between Earl Campbell, Walter Payton and Bo Jackson, Peterson forces opposing defenses to bring their lunch pails week in and week out.
Honorable mention: Manning; Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay; Calvin Johnson, Detroit
Defensive Player of the Year: J.J. Watt, Texans.
Watt is like "Where's Waldo" on the Texans' defensive line, playing all three positions in Houston's base 3-4 scheme. The Wisconsin product led the NFL with 20 1/2 sacks, swatted 16 passes, amassed an eye-popping 23 stuffs behind the line of scrimmage and was closing in on 40 total quarterback hits.
Honorable mention: Von Miller, Denver; Aldon Smith, San Francisco.
No disrespect to Manning but Denver won a playoff game with Tim Tebow running things last season. The Vikings might have trouble beating Alabama without Peterson.
Isn't that the very definition of Most Valuable Player?
In the running: Manning; Rodgers; Matt Ryan, Atlanta