June 27, 2013
Former Vol greats Peyton Manning and Arian Foster were selected to the NFL's Top 10 Players of 2013 as unveiled on the NFL Network on Thursday. Manning (2nd) and Foster (8th) gave Tennessee two of the top 10 players, making UT the only school to have multiple representatives among the elite.
The list was revealed over the last 10 weeks as the NFL's players voted for the league's Top 100 players. Tight end Jason Witten of the Dallas Cowboys was ranked No. 41.
No. 2 Peyton Manning
Peyton Manning returned to action with the Denver Broncos in 2012 and was honored by being named to his 12th Pro Bowl. Manning's 12 Pro Bowl selections are the most for a quarterback in NFL history. He was named the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year after missing the 2011 season. He threw for 4,659 yards and 68.6 completion percentage with 37 touchdowns and a 105.8 passer rating.
Manning set several NFL records in 2012. Against Houston at the beginning of the season, Manning recorded his 64th career 300+ yard game, an NFL-best passing Dan Marino in the record books. During the season Manning notched nine 300+ yard game, tying his career best and setting a Bronco record, while extending his NFL record to 72 games.
In the Divisional Playoffs, Manning's Broncos fell to the Ravens in double overtime. Manning finished with a 28-for-43, 290 yard effort tossing three touchdowns but also two interceptions, one of which led to Baltimore's game winning field goal in double-overtime.
Manning moved into a tie with Dan Marino for the fourth-most playoff touchdowns thrown (32) and his three TD effort marked the 10th time this season that he has accomplished the feat. His three touchdowns also tied a Broncos single-playoff game record set by John Elway who did it three times during his Denver career, the last time coming in 1994.
Manning was also No. 2 in 2011, behind Tom Brady. In 2012, following the 2011 season when he did not play due to injury, he listed No. 50.
Here's the breakdown from the NFL's Ian Rappaport on Manning: Remember when we all wondered about his arm strength? And if he'd even come close to returning to the Peyton Manning we saw for the better part of the previous decade in Indianapolis? Wish I could get those thoughts back. (Mulligan?) After missing 2011 with a neck injury and introducing himself to a new team, Manning turned in what might have been one of his top two statistical seasons. All he did was help the Broncos close the Tebow era and become an instant juggernaut with a stroke of a pen. No one has impacted a franchise so drastically and so quickly. Even at 36 years old, Manning is still in his prime. That's almost unfair to those of us normal people who actually age.
No. 8 Arian Foster
Arian Foster is a three-time NFL Pro Bowler. The four-year NFL vet tallied 1,424 yards rushing during the 2012 regular season, the second highest of his career, playing and starting all 16 games in 2012.
Foster also rushed for 15 touchdowns, leading all NFL rushers and caught another two. His 17 total touchdowns was also an NFL best. Foster was sixth in the NFL with his 1,424 yards and second in the AFC behind Jamaal Charles.
In the postseason, Foster became the first player to run for 100 yards in each of his first three playoff games in NFL history. The VFL gained 140 rushing yards on 32 carries with a touchdown in the Wild Card game against Cincinnati. He also had eight catches for 34 yards to gain 174 total yards.
Foster's 2012 postseason total included 230 rushing yards, 97 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
Foster was No. 25 in both 2011 and 2012.
Here's the breakdown from the NFL's Ian Rappaport on Foster: It's all about churning out yards for running backs, and Foster is as good a one-cut-and-go runner as there is. An opening in the line barely needs to be open for him to take it 40 yards. But it's his vision that makes Foster the best around. It's his vision that saw him gain 1,424 yards in his third-straight season over 1,200 and in double digit touchdowns. The offense isn't perfect in Houston. There was no big-play threat in 2012, and the offensive line was a notch below its standard. And there was Foster, carrying the load (351 times) and keying everything. Only the truly elite players perform regardless of the circumstances.