Home Remembering the Defensive MVPs of the Super Bowl

Remembering the Defensive MVPs of the Super Bowl

by Mike Ferguson

Photo courtesy of Dallas Cowboys

Coming in, more often than not, it’s the offenses and especially the quarterbacks that get the spotlight prior to the Super Bowl.

That’s again the case this year as Tom Brady will appear in his 10th Super Bowl — this time as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They’ll take on reigning Super Bowl MVP, Patrick Mahomes, and the Kansas City Chiefs.

The old adage goes that “defense wins championships”. Thanks to the guys featured in this piece, that held true. Here’s a look back on Super Bowl MVPs who played on the defensive side of the ball.

Chuck Howley, LB Dallas Cowboys (Super Bowl V)

Baltimore Colts 16, Dallas Cowboys 13
Jan. 17, 1971
Stats: 2 tackles, 2 interceptions, 22 interception return yards
Overview: The only member of a losing team to earn Super Bowl MVP honors, Chuck Howley became the first player with multiple interceptions in the Super Bowl. One of those came in the end zone to thwart a scoring opportunity for the Baltimore Colts.

Jake Scott, S Miami Dolphins (Super Bowl VII)

Miami Dolphins 14, Washington Redskins 7
Jan. 14, 1973
Stats: 2 tackles, 2 interceptions, 63 interception return yards
Overview: An intricate part of the Miami Dolphins’ dominant “No Name Defense”, Jake Scott recorded two interceptions in Super Bowl VII. Miami held the Washington Redskins to 228 total yards en route to completing the NFL’s first and only perfect season.

Harvey Martin, DE and Randy White, LB Dallas Cowboys (Super Bowl XII)

Dallas Cowboys 27, Denver Broncos 10
Jan. 15, 1978
Stats: Martin: 2 sacks; White: sack
Overview: The only Super Bowl with multiple MVPs was Super Bowl XII. Pass rushing colleagues Harvey Martin and Randy White combined for three of the four Dallas sacks as the Cowboys’ defense dominated the Denver Broncos. Denver managed just 156 yards and turned the ball over eight times.

Richard Dent, DE Chicago Bears (Super Bowl XX)

Chicago Bears 46, New England Patriots 10
Jan. 26, 1986
Stats: Tackle, 1.5 sacks
Overview: For the 1985 Chicago Bears, it seemed only fitting that a member of the defense earned Super Bowl MVP honors. Dent finished with 1.5 sacks for a Chicago defense that held the New England Patriots to just 123 total yards. The Bears finished with seven sacks and forced six turnovers.

Larry Brown, CB Dallas Cowboys (Super Bowl XXX)

Dallas Cowboys 27, Pittsburgh Steelers 17
Jan. 28, 1996
Stats: 2 interceptions, 77 interception return yards
Overview: A decade spanned in between defensive MVPs, but Larry Brown ended that streak In Super Bowl XXX, Brown picked off Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback Neil O’Donnell twice. The final of those picks was returned to inside the Pittsburgh 10-yard-line and set up Emmitt Smith’s touchdown run to seal the Cowboys’ third Super Bowl title in four years.

Ray Lewis, LB Baltimore Ravens (Super Bowl XXXV)

Baltimore Ravens 34, New York Giants 7
Jan. 28, 2001
Stats: 5 tackles, 4 passes defended
Overview: Similar to the 1985 Chicago Bears, it seemed only fitting that a member of the 2000 Baltimore Ravens’ defense would be named Super Bowl MVP. That honor went to linebacker Ray Lewis. Lewis was typically a tackling machine, but his efforts in Tampa were most noticeable in coverage as he knocked away four Kerry Collins passes.

Dexter Jackson, S Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Super Bowl XXVII)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 48, Oakland Raiders 21
Jan. 26, 2003
Stats: 3 tackles, 2 interceptions, 34 return yards
Overview: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers wrapped up a dominating defensive season in 2002 with a dominating defensive performance. Although Dwight Smith and Derrick Brooks combined for three defensive touchdowns, it was safety Dexter Jackson who got the MVP nod. Jackson had two of the five Tampa Bay interceptions off Oakland quarterback Rich Gannon.

Malcolm Smith, LB Seattle Seahawks (Super Bowl XLVIII(

Seattle Seahawks 43, Denver Broncos 8
Feb. 2, 2014
Stats: 10 tackles, interception, 69 interception return yards, touchdown, fumble recovery
Overview: The Seattle Seahawks completely shut down the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII and no one shined brighter for Seattle than linebacker Malcolm Smith. Smith was tied for the team lead in tackles and his 69-yard interception return for a touchdown gave the Seahawks a commanding 22-0 lead.

Von Miller, LB Denver Broncos (Super Bowl L)

Denver Broncos 24, Carolina Panthers 10
Feb. 7, 2016
Stats: 6 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles
Overview: Against a Carolina team that finished 15-1 during the regular season, the Denver Broncos’ defense dominated. Carolina had no answer for linebacker Von Miller, who tallied 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. Denver scored just two touchdowns, but both were set up by Miller forced fumbles. That included one that was fallen on the end zone by Denver’s Malik Jackson.

Mike Ferguson is the managing editor for Fifth Quarter. Be sure to follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeWFerguson. Follow all of Mike’s work by liking his Facebook page.

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