Patrick Mahomes has picked up the first of what he hopes are two victories this week in Arizona. The Kansas City Chiefs quarterback was the clear winner of the Associated Press' Most Valuable Player award, announced Thursday evening at the NFL Honors program.
It was the second MVP award of Mahomes' six-year career, making him the 10th player ever to win the award twice. His other came in 2018; only Jim Brown and Kurt Warner won two MVPs in less time at the start of a career.
Mahomes led the NFL this season in passing yards (5,250), touchdown passes (41) and Total QBR (77.5) while leading the Chiefs to a 14-3 record and the AFC's No. 1 seed in the playoffs. He set an NFL record of 5,614 total yards in a season, fought through a high ankle sprain to reel off a pair of postseason victories and will start Sunday in Super Bowl LVII against the Eagles.
In a video message played after the award was announced, Mahomes thanked his family, the Kansas City organization and his teammates.
"I would never be standing here today without you all," he said. "Every day, giving everything we have together to go for the ultimate goal: the Super Bowl. Let's continue to go for that dream this weekend."
Mahomes' award came in the first year of a new voting system employed by the Associated Press, which asked voters to rank five finalists for MVP and three for its other awards, rather than just vote for one in each case.
Earlier in the evening, Minnesota Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson won the AP's Offensive Player of the Year award. In his first season with new Vikings coach Kevin O'Connell, Jefferson led the NFL with 128 receptions and 1,809 yards. Last year's OPOY, Los Angeles Rams receiver Cooper Kupp, played in the same scheme O'Connell brought to the Vikings after two seasons as the Rams' offensive coordinator. The Kupp-Jefferson sequence marked the first time two receivers have ever won the award in consecutive seasons.
In a short but emotional acceptance speech, Jefferson, 23, concluded with: "More to come. More to come."
The NFL's Defensive Player of the Year award went to San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa, who led the league with 18.5 sacks and ranked ninth among edge rushers in ESPN's Pass Rush Win Rate metric (22%). The 49ers defense held opponents to a league-low 16.3 points and 300.6 yards per game during the regular season, and its defensive coordinator -- DeMeco Ryans -- was named the AP's assistant coach of the year.
Ryans was hired last month as the Houston Texans' head coach.
Meanwhile, the New York Jets used two top-10 draft picks to become the third team in NFL history to sweep the AP's Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year awards. Cornerback Sauce Gardner, the No. 4 overall pick of the 2022 draft, led the NFL with 20 pass breakups. And wideout Garrett Wilson, the No. 10 pick, led all NFL rookies in receiving yards (1,103).
Seattle Seahawks running back Kenneth Walker III actually received more first-place votes (19) than Wilson (18). But the new voting system -- which gave five points for a first-place vote, three points for a second-place vote and one point for a third-place vote -- left Wilson with more total points (156 to 129).
The only other teams to sweep these awards were the 2017 New Orleans Saints (running back Alvin Kamara and cornerback Marshon Lattimore) and the 1967 Detroit Lions (running back Mel Farr and cornerback Lem Barney).
New York Giants coach Brian Daboll was named the AP's Coach of the Year. In his first season with the team, Daboll led the Giants to their first winning season and first playoff berth in six seasons -- while also coaxing a career season from quarterback Daniel Jones. Daboll beat out the 49ers' Kyle Shanahan, who closed at Caesars as the favorite to win the award after leading his team to 10 consecutive wins to finish the regular season. Daboll had 16 first-place votes to Shanahan's 12.
The AP's Comeback Player of the Year was Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith, who earned a full-time starting job for the first time since the 2014 season. He finished the season with a career-high 4,282 yards and 30 touchdown passes and ranked No. 7 in the league in QBR (60.7). In the Seahawks' first season after trading away franchise quarterback Russell Wilson, Smith led the Seahawks to an unexpected winning season and a wild-card playoff berth.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott won the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year award, a recognition of his work off the field, primarily through his Faith Fight Finish (FFF) Foundation. It focuses on research into colon cancer, which took his mother Peggy in 2013, as well as suicide prevention following the death of his brother Jace in 2020.
"Through adversity, we find our strength," Prescott said in accepting the award Thursday night.