Published: January 17th, 2011 | Tags: divisional playoff MVPs, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, Charles Tillman, Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Greg Olsen, Hines Ward, Jay Cutler, Mark Sanchez, Mike Martz, New York Jets, Rex Ryan, Tramon Williams
Let’s get right to it. With honorable mention shout outs to Jay Cutler, Charles Tillman and James Harrison, here’s a list of most valuable players (and coaches) from the divisional round of the NFL playoffs:
6. Tramon Williams, CB, Packers
His penchant for well-timed big plays will keep him on lists like these. Williams ended the wild-card win over the Eagles with a pick, and both of his interceptions against the Falcons were also daggers. His first interception in the end zone ended a long Falcons’ drive. With the game still in the balance, his pick six silenced the Georgia Dome crowd right before the half. Ball game.
5. Mark Sanchez, QB, Jets
Give credit where credit is due. Sanchez went into Foxborough and did exactly what the Jets needed: Three touchdowns, no turnovers. He was at his best on the late third-quarter drive that put the Jets up 21-11, completing all four of his attempts for 76 yards, capped by the brilliant corner of the end zone throw to Santonio Holmes.
4. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers
Because with a game on the line, there’s a short list of quarterbacks you want on your side. Roethlisberger, 9-2 in the playoffs, is as clutch as any quarterback of his era. With the game tied at 24, he engineered an 11-play, 65-yard scoring drive highlighted by a third-down strike to Hines Ward and a perfect 58-yard throw to rookie Antonio Brown. Let Ward say it: “He is a proven winner in the playoffs. And me as a player, I am just glad to be a part. When I see him in that huddle, I know I’ve always got a chance to win a ballgame.”
3. Mike Martz, Offensive coordinator, Bears
Credit Martz for making all the pieces fit together and bringing balance back to the Bears, who are 10-0 this season when they have 21 or more rushing attempts. Since their Week 8 bye, the Bears are averaging 30.3 attempts and 117.3 rushing yards per game. Cutler is having fun and Martz has the Bears in synch. Martz found the matchup he liked with Greg Olsen against the ‘Hawks and the Bears rushed for 176 yards.
2. Rex Ryan, head coach, Jets
Ryan is getting a lot of day-after love for his master defensive plan against Tom Brady and the Patriots, and deservedly so. He took the attention off his players during the week and crafted a scheme that took away the Patriots’ strengths in the middle of the field. Jets DE Trevor Pryce and CB Darrelle Revis described Brady as “confused” afterward. No amount of talking before or after can take away the Jets getting it done on the road in the playoffs against Bill Belichick.
1. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
Pick any superlative you want, but Rodgers was nearly flawless against the Falcons. This is a no-brainer, and it was indeed one of the best playoff performances from a quarterback in recent history. Anyone just figuring out that Rodgers is in the conversation among elite NFL quarterbacks is either hating or hasn’t been paying attention.
OK, turning this over to you guys … who was your MVP of the division round of the playoffs?