How often does a defending Super Bowl champion return to the Big Game and lose? On NFL Thursday this week, we take on just such a rarity. In fact, it’s only happened six times in 56 seasons. Usually, it’s a surprise, too, as the defending champs are supposed to have “more” to play for, so to speak. So much for psychology, right? Enjoy this week’s awards review with these nuggets in mind …
Super Bowl XXXII MVP: Terrell Davis, RB, Denver (original, confirmed)
The Denver Broncos broke their jinx in the Super Bowl by defeating the Green Bay Packers, 31-24, behind running back Terrell Davis (157 rushing yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 fumble). With 5 total turnovers combined, the two teams didn’t particularly dazzle anyone, but the Broncos won the war of the attrition and timing with the last score of the game, late in the fourth quarter.
Both starting quarterbacks tossed interceptions, and Davis was named the MVP despite his fumble. The Packers star player, wide receiver Antonio Freeman (126 receiving yards, 2 TD catches), also had a turnover, so we will stick with Davis, too, as all the turnovers end up being value equalizers in the end. On a day when Broncos QB legend John Elway posted a 51.9 QBR, Davis was the shining star for Denver.
1997 NFL ROTY: Warrick Dunn, RB, Tampa Bay & Peter Boulware, LB, Baltimore (original); Dunn (revised)
Tampa Bay improved 4 games from 1996 with its ROTY vote winner to make the postseason at 10-6, while the Ravens improved 2.5 games—and still missed the playoffs with a 6-9-1 record. Both vote winners played for Florida State, so that is interesting. But we digress: Can anyone top Dunn (1,440 scrimmage yards, 7 TDs) here, among contending teams? Let’s see … Nope. Pretty simple here.