Before we turn our attention to the divisional round of the NFL playoffs, let’s take another quick look back at the MVPs of wild-card weekend.
With an honorable mention shout out to Ravens TE Todd Heap and his monster game, here’s one list of MVPs:
6. The entire Ravens defense: The Ravens also went on the road to Arrowhead Stadium, quieted the Kansas City crowd and forced five turnovers from a team that had 14 all season. Try to single out one player. Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe had zero targets due to Chris Carr and Josh Wilson. Ray Lewis had a sack and forced a fumble. Ed Reed laid out Dexter McCluster on a third down. Kelly Gregg keyed a fourth-down stop. Terrence Cody chased down Jamaal Charles from behind to force a fumble. Terrell Suggs had two sacks. Respect.
5. Jets CB Darrelle Revis: Colts WR Reggie Wayne was targeted once. All game. Does any other player change the way a team game plans more than Revis? Peyton Manning were left to rely on Blair White, Jacob Tamme and Dominic Rhodes in key situations instead of Wayne. That’s your difference.
5. Packers RB James Starks: Now we see what a balanced Packers offense looks like. Scary. Starks rushed 23 times for 123 yards (that’s 5.3 per if you’re doing the math) and gives the Packers a viable option when playing with a lead. He wasn’t even activated until Nov. 9 and didn’t make his debut until Dec. 5. Even then, he was inactive in two of the last three games because of rumored poor practice habits. Is he the next Timmy Smith who set a Super Bowl rushing record for the Redskins in Super Bowl XXII? Maybe. Let’s see how he handles the playoff stage and his new-found success.
2. Packers CB Tramon Williams: That’s right, Williams makes the list for making one play. Had Williams bit on the pump-fake from Michael Vick, slipped, not played the ball perfectly or committed pass interference, there’s a good chance the game would have ended differently. As in, Packers lose. Instead he played it perfectly.
1. Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck: No one saw this performance from Hasselbeck coming. No one. Hasselbeck played the part of a poised, veteran quarterback on the big stage. As Solomon Wilcots pointed out, Hasselbeck knew which matchups to exploit. Hasselbeck’s deep ball to Mike Williams on third-and-2 was a thing of beauty, and he stood in the pocket and took the hit before floating another to TE Cameron Morrah. But my favorite Hasselbeck moment was seeing him blocking 40 yards downfield on Lynch’s epic run. That’s an MVP.