CBSSports.com Senior Writer

Quarterly Report: Celebrating excellence, lamenting season's end

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You're sad. I know you are.

Christmas has come and gone. That means back to work for most. Bah-humbug on that, right?

What's even worse: This is the last regular-season weekend of the NFL season, compounding the ache.

Where does the time go?

It's time to salute Michael Vick, who should run away with the Comeback Player of the Year award. (AP)  
It's time to salute Michael Vick, who should run away with the Comeback Player of the Year award. (AP)  
It seems like just yesterday we were kicking it off, talking about the Cowboys maybe becoming the first team to play a Super Bowl in their own stadium or Brett Favre going out on top.

How wrong we were.

Sixteen weeks later, the Cowboys are looking for a new coach and Favre is like Humpty Dumpty, trying to put his broken-down body together again, not to mention his reputation.

The spotlight this season was stolen by the greatness of Tom Brady. The re-emergence of Michael Vick. The consistency of the Atlanta Falcons. The Jay Cutler-led Bears.

It has been a wild ride, but don't worry. We have the playoffs starting next week and anything can happen. This might be the best playoffs we've seen in decades.

I can't wait.

But before then it's time to look back at the season that was. It's award time, giving praise to those who have earned it.

Don't be sad. It's only another eight-plus months until the 2011 season begins -- unless, of course, there's a lockout. Now that's something that would make all of us sad.

MVP: Tom Brady, Patriots. What he has accomplished is sensational. He loses Randy Moss and gets better? Please. Eagles quarterback Michael Vick blew any chance to win it when he flopped against the Vikings.

Runners-up: Vick; Matt Cassel, QB; Chiefs; Matt Ryan, Falcons.

Offensive player: Brady. He leads the NFL with 34 touchdown passes and hasn't thrown a pick since October.

Runners-up: Vick; Arian Foster, RB, Texans; Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs; Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers; Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers.

Defensive player: Clay Matthews, OLB, Packers. Yes, he tailed off some late, but he wins the award because nobody else stepped up to take it.

Runners-up: Tamba Hali, OLB, Chiefs; Trent Cole, DE, Eagles; Julius Peppers, DE, Bears; Troy Polamalu, S, Steelers; James Harrison, OLB, Steelers; Cameron Wake, OLB, Dolphins.

Coach: Bill Belichick, Patriots. He has taken a young team and has it with the top seed in the AFC. He gets better and better all the time.

NFL 2010
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Runners-up: Mike Smith, Falcons; Lovie Smith, Bears; Todd Haley, Chiefs.

Assistant coach: Charlie Weis, Chiefs offensive coordinator. He has the top-ranked rushing offense and the ninth best overall. He has made a major impact.

Runners-up: Ron Rivera, Chargers defensive coordinator; Romeo Crennel, Chiefs defensive coordinator; Dick LeBeau, Steelers defensive coordinator; Dante Scarnecchia, Patriots offensive line coach; Gregg Williams, Saints defensive coordinator.

Offensive rookie: Sam Bradford, QB, Rams. He broke Peyton Manning's rookie mark for completions. That's saying something. He also has 18 touchdown passes.

Runners-up: Maurkice Pouncey, C, Steelers; LeGarrette Blount, RB, Buccaneers; Mike Williams, WR, Buccaneers.

Defensive rookie: Ndamukong Suh, DT. Lions. He's on his way to the Pro Bowl as a rookie, which speaks volumes. He's the leading sack man among all defensive tackles.

Runners-up: Earl Thomas, S, Seahawks; Nate Allen, S, Eagles; T.J. Ward, S, Browns; Eric Berry, S, Chiefs; Joe Haden, CB, Browns; Carlos Dunlap, DE, Bengals; Devin McCourty, CB, Patriots.

Comeback player: Vick. His career looked dead. Now look. He's about to become a rich man -- again.

Runners-up: Mike Williams, WR, Seahawks; Wes Welker, WR, Patriots; Osi Umenyiora, DE, Giants; E.J. Henderson, LB, Vikings.

Perplexing trend: The penalties for helmet-to-helmet hits being made such a big deal. Do people want to see someone die?

Runner-up: Crappy offensive line play. Quarterbacks take a ton of hits, which is why so many went down this season.

Best trend: Parity. I love that we have no idea who will get to the Super Bowl.

Runner-up: Aggressive defenses. The blitz is in vogue so much more now, which means big plays on offense and big hits on quarterbacks. The good quarterbacks eat it up, the bad ones get eaten up by it.

Best free-agent pickup: Peppers. He has been a major player on the Bears' defense, really helping the other players on the line. He doesn't have great sack numbers, but he has played better than those would indicate.

Runners-up: Jason Babin, DE; Titans, Terrell Owens, WR, Bengals; Karlos Dansby, LB, Dolphins; Ryan Lilja, G, Chiefs; Antrel Rolle, S, Giants.

Biggest disappointment (team): Cowboys. Jerry Jones spent the season seething at the idea of what a waste his team was in 2010.

Runners-up: Vikings, Chargers; Bengals.

Biggest disappointment (player): Brett Favre, QB, Vikings. He had injuries, he had interceptions and he had off-the-field issues. Not a good final season for the old gunslinger.

Runners-up: Donovan McNabb, QB, Redskins; Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals; Felix Jones, RB, Cowboys; Beanie Wells, RB, Cardinals; Randy Moss, WR, Patriots/Vikings/Titans.

Most-improved player: BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Patriots. He is the feature back on a good offense. It was iffy that he would even make the team this summer.

Fan Poll

Who is the 2010 NFL MVP?

Tom Brady
64%
Michael Vick
11%
Matt Cassel
8%
Matt Ryan
3%
Clay Matthews
6%
Troy Polamalu
7%

Total Votes: 7,117

Runners-up: Foster; Brandon Lloyd, WR, Broncos; Peyton Hillis, RB, Browns; LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles; Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders; Terrance Knighton, DT, Jaguars; Antonio Garay, NT, Chargers; Chris Long, DE, Rams; Charles Johnson, DE, Panthers; Wake.

Surprise team: Chiefs. From last in the division, winning four games, to a division title is good enough to win this award.

Runners-up: Buccaneers; Rams.

Surprise player: Lloyd. After spending time with three other teams, he earned a Pro Bowl spot with the Broncos. Pretty impressive.

Runners-up: Foster; Babin; Steve Johnson, WR, Bills; Green-Ellis; Danny Amendola, WR, Rams; Mike Williams, WR, Seahawks.

Best game: Eagles 38, Giants 31 in Week 15. Vick rallied the Eagles from 21 down in the fourth quarter and they won it on a punt return by DeSean Jackson on the game's final play.

Runners-up: Texans 30, Redskins 27 (OT) in Week 2; Saints 25, 49ers 22 in Week 2; Cardinals 24, Raiders 23 in Week 3; Jaguars 31, Colts 28 in Week 4; Ravens 17, Steelers 14 in Week 4; Texans 35, Chiefs 31 in Week 6; Buccaneers 38, Cardinals 35 in Week 8; Falcons 26, Ravens 21 in Week 10; Jets 30, Texans 27 in Week 11; Saints 30, Cowboys 27 in Week 12; Ravens 34, Texans 28 (OT) in Week 14.

Taking a mulligan: I picked the Cowboys to get to the NFC title game. Ugh. I picked the Chiefs to finish last in their division. Ouch. And I picked the Bengals to win theirs. Triple ouch.

Best moment: Titans offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger coaching a few days after being diagnosed with cancer. Here's wishing him luck in that battle.

Runner-up: The Eagles fans cheering for Donovan McNabb when he returned to play there.

Worst moment: When it was revealed Heimerdinger was sick. It sent coaches looking in the mirror when they heard that news. Time for self-evaluation.

Runners-up: Seeing the way the Redskins handled the McNabb situation; Derek Anderson's postgame tirade after a Monday night loss to the 49ers; Randy Moss's postgame press conference after the Vikings lost to the Patriots. Bizarre.


Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. He hosted his own radio show for seven years, and is the self-anointed star of CBS Sports' show, Eye on Football. When he's not watching game tape, you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an Arizona State national title in football.
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