The League

Brandon Benson
Packers Blogger

Brandon Benson

Brandon Benson is the lead blogger at Acme Packing Company.

It's a passing league


I don't know where NFL commentators would be without the 2000 Baltimore Ravens. It seems like whenever I hear a comment about a team with a great defense, but a lousy quarterback, they bring up those Ravens. If they won a Super Bowl with Trent Dilfer at quarterback, then Team X can win one with a lousy quarterback too. The conclusion drawn from that commentary is far too often that great defenses win championships.

The reality is that it's usually a great quarterback that wins the championship. A majority of Super Bowl MVPs have been quarterbacks, and the last seven have either been a quarterback or a wide receiver. I wouldn't say that proves my point, but it's instructive that the smart money should be on betting that another wide receiver or quarterback will win again this year. The NFL is a passing league, and any team relying on its defense or running game to win a championship is a long shot.

At first, this upcoming Super Bowl might look like it's bucking the trend. Both defenses are led by a fearsome pass rusher: Linebacker Clay Matthews for the Packers and LB James Harrison for the Steelers. The Packers were officially ranked as the No. 5 defense (No. 2 scoring defense), and the Steelers were No. 2 (No. 1 scoring defense). In the NFC Championship game, the Packers intercepted two fourth quarter passes. One was returned for a touchdown, and another ended the game. In the AFC, the Steelers forced a fumble on a sack of QB Mark Sanchez that was recovered and returned for what turned out to be the margin of victory over the Jets. Neither team would have made it to the Super Bowl without those big plays from its defense.

But looking back over the regular season, QB Aaron Rodgers had a quarterback rating of 101.2 and QB Ben Roethlisberger's was 97.0. Based on that stat alone, both quarterbacks were among the Top 5 in the league prior to the playoffs. While neither quarterback played well in their respective championship games, Rodgers finished the postseason with a 109.2 rating overall, and Roethlisberger had a 101.8 rating in his playoff game against the Ravens. It's not fair to say both quarterbacks won their conference championships for their teams, but they wouldn't have made it to the Super Bowl without either of them.

While someone like Greg Jennings might be named the MVP, the winning team's defense is going to have to make some big plays. The last time the Steelers won the Super Bowl, Santonio Holmes was the MVP in part because the defense of the Cardinals couldn't find a way to stop him. And he might have never gotten a chance to catch the game winning touchdown pass if James Harrison hadn't had a 100 yard interception return for a touchdown earlier in the game. Defense alone doesn't win championships, but they're certain to play a key role in two weeks.

By Brandon Benson  |  January 25, 2011; 4:07 PM ET  | Category:  Green Bay Packers , Pittsburgh Steelers , Playoffs , Super Bowl Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: It's coaches and QBs now | Next: Flip a coin

Post a Comment

characters remaining

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company