On Sunday, many saw the New England Patriots defeat the Los Angeles Rams 13-3 in Super Bowl LIII. The Pats captured their sixth Super Bowl title in franchise history.
Julian Edelman took home the game’s MVP award with 141 yards on 10 catches.
While those are impressive numbers, many were left to wonder why a defensive player was not chosen. After all, New England only conceded three points to a unit that averaged 28 during the postseason.
Defensive players rarely win the Super Bowl MVP, but it does happen. In honor of the Patriots and their stalwart defense in the Super Bowl, here’s a look back at the last five defensive players to win the MVP trophy in the big game.
Von Miller, Denver Broncos
In the only Super Bowl not referred to by a roman numeral, the Denver Broncos took on the Carolina Panthers at Levi’s Stadium.
The game was headlined by the decline of Peyton Manning. The Broncos defense however won them games all season long and continued that aggressive play into the postseason. They played an integral part in defeating the Panthers by a score of 24-10. They were led by All-Pro linebacker Miller, a vicious pass rusher.
Miller would go onto to have six tackles, 2.5 sacks, and one pass defended to earn him the Super Bowl MVP.
Dexter Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Super Bowl XXXVII pitted the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Oakland Raiders. It was the Raiders top ranked offense versus the Buccaneers top ranked defense. The defense handled business in this game though and gave the Bucs a 48-21 victory over the Raiders. Bucs defensive back Jackson took home the MVP honors for his two interceptions in the first half.
Malcolm Smith, Seattle Seahawks
Much fanfare was doled out to the defense of the Seattle Seahawks nicknamed the “Legion of Boom”. They were the stingiest defense in the league during the 2015 season. They only gave up 17.3 points per game, a league best.
It came as no surprise then that the Seahawks would have a defensive player win the Super Bowl MVP when they defeated the Broncos 43-8. Smith would win the honor with a stat line of 10 tackles, an interception for a touchdown, and a fumble recovery.
Larry Brown, Dallas Cowboys
With an offense that had names like Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin playing on it, one would think one of the “Triplets” would be taking home the MVP honors. But instead Brown, cornerback, was named the game’s MVP. Playing opposite of the ever so flashy Deion Sanders, Brown would get two interceptions to help the team to a 27-17 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Ray Lewis, Baltimore Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens smothered the New York Giants 34-7 in Super Bowl XXXV. A magnificent defensive performance came from the Ravens who forced five takeaways in the game. Linebacker Ray Lewis won the game’s MVP after an inspiring all-around performance from him and his defensive unit
What It Means?
Defensive Super Bowl MVPs are few and far between. But when the award is given out to a defensive player, there is a usually a great story and an awe-inspiring performance to go along with it.
Although someone from the Patriots defense did not take home the award this past Sunday, it was a good sign to come. It sent the message loud and clear that defense has not disappeared from this great game and is still alive and well in the NFL!