Once again on NFL Thursday, we look at the 2013 season, which was full of surprises. Remember, we’re looking at awarded Super Bowl MVPs (18-for-47 so far) and Rookies of the Year (31-for-56). If Super MVPs were running backs, they’d stink. If ROTYs were quarterbacks, they’d be merely average. We saw one of the more shocking NFL title games ever, where one team literally torched the other team in a fashion hitherto unknown. Forget what we mean? Read on … and relive it!
Super Bowl XLVIII MVP: Malcolm Smith, LB, Seattle (original); Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle (revised)
The Seattle Seahawks won their first NFL championship by running up a 36-0 lead late in the third quarter, something never done before in the history of the Super Bowl. The Denver Broncos scored on the final play of that third quarter, so the final score (43-8) wasn’t really indicative of just how much Seattle dominated this game. Seahawks linebacker Malcolm Smith somehow won the MVP vote, mostly because of his 69-yard interception return for a score right before halftime that gave his team a 22-0 lead.
The winning team scored a safety, an INT TD, and a kickoff-return TD. Overall, Seattle forced four turnovers and held the Broncos to a 6-for-16 effort on third- and fourth-down conversions, combined. The Seahawks’ best offensive effort came from quarterback Russell Wilson (232 total yards, 2 passing TDs, 123.1 QB rating)—a highly decorated player in this space over the years. Meanwhile, Smith had 10 tackles, a fumble recovery, and the scoring INT return.
Video shows the INT itself to be just a matter of fortunate location, and we know fumble recoveries are the same. Plus, on defense, Seattle also received huge games from LB Bobby Wagner (10 tackles), strong safety Kam Chancellor (10 tackles, 2 PDs, 1 INT), and defensive end Chris Clemons (3 tackles, 2 FFs, 1 sack). The defensive effort was collective, so singling out Smith makes no sense. Meanwhile, the offense did what it had to do to win the game as well, and we credit Wilson for that.
The running game was spotty at best, and Wilson’s QB rating shows he did what he had to do to keep the team in control of that game even when the defense and special teams were really clicking. And with so many defensive players stepping up, there’s no way to pin the MVP ribbon on just one guy. Maybe wide receiver Percy Harvin could be a candidate here, too, though? He returned the second-half kickoff for a TD to make it 29-0, but he only had 50 yards from scrimmage in the game. Wilson, it is.
2013 NFL ROTY: Eddie Lacy, RB, Green Bay & Sheldon Richardson, DE, New York Jets (original); Lacy (revised)
The Green Bay Packers won the NFC North with an 8-7-1 record, while the New York Jets missed out on an AFC wild-card spot by 1 game with their 8-8 finish. Circumstances matter, so Packers running back Eddie Lacy (1,335 scrimmage yards and 11 TDs) is still a candidate for this award. But Green Bay won 3 fewer games than it did the season before, so he’s a flimsy candidate at best, at least topically. But the Packers won only 8 games because their future Hall of Fame QB missed 7 games.
Who else is a legit candidate, though, for ROTY? Really only two other offensive stars: Cincinnati Bengals RB Giovani Bernard (1,209 scrimmage yards and 8 TDs) and San Diego Chargers WR Keenan Allen (1,046 receiving yards and 8 TDs). The Bengals won the AFC North with 11 wins, one more than the season before, while the Chargers posted a 9-7 record to snag the final AFC playoff spot after going 7-9 in 2012. So, Allen seems to have an edge there on Bernard.
Our key here is to look at Lacy’s stats in games Aaron Rodgers missed: games 9-15. In those 7 games, Lacy compiled 516 yards rushing, 164 yards receiving, and 6 total TDs without fumbling once. Prorated over a 16-game season, those numbers equate to 1,179 rushing yards, 375 receiving yards, and 14 TDs. It seems like Lacy was as his best in carrying the team while the starting QB was out. We like that kind of effort, and in the end, since Allen was playing a Pro Bowl QB himself, we go with Lacy here.