Quarterbacks are the glamour boys of football. So no one should have been surprised when Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers became the 24th quarterback to be named Most Valuable Player in the 45th Super Bowl.
Unfortunately, defensive players usually get the short shrift when accolades are handed out at the Super Bowl. The Bowl's MVP award has been given to a defensive player just seven times.
But on Sunday night, key defensive plays had as much to do with the Packers’ 31-25 victory as the performance of the strong-armed Rodgers did.
Nick Collins’s interception and 37-yard touchdown return gave Green Bay a 14-0 lead over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first quarter.
“I said, ‘Oh, I’ve got a chance to make a huge play,” said Collins, a safety from Bethune-Cookman, a historically Black university in Daytone Beach, Fla. “I just wanted to corral the ball and get into that end zone.”
Collins deserves serious recognition for his performance in Super Bowl XLV. Not only did his touchdown give the Packers the momentum boost they needed, but he also took on an expanded leadership role in the second half, when a shoulder injury forced defensive captain Charles Woodson to the sideline.
And don’t forget that the game’s biggest play was made not by Rodgers but by the Packers’ defense early in the fourth quarter.
Green Bay led 21-17, but the Steelers had the ball at the Packers’ 41-yard line when linebacker Clay Matthews and defensive end Ryan Pickett sandwiched running back Rashard Mendenhall, forcing a fumble recovered by Packers linebacker Desmond Bishop.
The fumble killed the Steelers’ momentum and silenced their Terrible-Towel-waving fans at Cowboys Stadium.
Here’s the most underreported statistic in the Super Bowl: The defense that forces the most turnovers wins the game.
The Packers forced three turnovers (two interceptions and a fumble), which led to 14 points. The Steelers forced no turnovers.
Teams are now 31-4 in the Super Bowl when they commit at least three fewer turnovers than the opponent.
So even though Rodgers gets a flashy red convertible, a trip to Disney World, and a gig reading the Top 10 list tonight on “Letterman” for being named MVP, he should share some of his bonus money with his defensive teammates.
Because in football, offense sells tickets, but defense wins the game.
Image: ASSOCIATED PRESSAP