Peterson fourth? Really?

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
Minnesota tailback Adrian Peterson won the NFL rushing title and played on a division-winning team. Nevertheless, I couldn't possibly make an argument for Peterson winning the league MVP award over Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning.

Manning plays the more important position of the two, and he was the Colts player most responsible for the team ending the season on a nine-game winning streak.

But Peterson didn't finish second, either. He tied for fourth in the MVP voting. Were there really three players who deserved the award more than he did?

I'm sure some voters looked at the Vikings' season and wondered whether backup quarterback Gus Frerotte had a bigger impact on the team's division title than Peterson. (Frerotte started eight of the Vikings' 10 victories). It's clear that at least a few voters thought Atlanta tailback Michael Turner (four votes) and Miami quarterback Chad Pennington (four) played a bigger role in their teams' success than Peterson.

You can make that argument in choosing Manning over Peterson. Otherwise, it seems Peterson's consistent performance had a mind-numbing effect on voters. Peterson, after all, led the league with 10 100-yard games. He also had 20 runs of at least 20 yards, five more than the next-best performer. Is that type of production simply assumed for him?

Again, I can't advocate Peterson as the MVP. But it's a little surprising to see him finish behind three other players and tied with a fourth (Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison) in the voting.