NFL's best O-line? Not the Jets

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The New York Jets' offensive line paved the way for the NFL's top rushing attack and featured three Pro Bowlers.

But it wasn't the NFL's best.

In an award that was long overdue and bestows a pretty cool statue, the New Orleans Saints were given the inaugural Madden Most Valuable Protectors Award on Wednesday at the Super Bowl media center.

Other finalists for the award were the Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans and Philadelphia Eagles. Voting was handled through a combination of fan ballots and NFL Network analysts.

The Jets didn't do enough, apparently. I thought it would come down to the Jets and the Titans, who blocked for a 2,000-yard rusher and allowed only 15 sacks, second fewest in the league after the Colts.

The Jets had All-Pro center Nick Mangold and two other Pro Bowlers, left guard Alan Faneca and left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson. They blocked for an offense that averaged an obnoxious 172.2 rushing yards a game.

"They were really impressive, especially towards the end of the season," John Madden said. "I liked them earlier in the season, but at the end of the season, when they were making their playoff run, they led pro football in rushing. You know that has to go to the offensive line, and they were just fun to watch."

The Saints also had three Pro Bowlers. They anchored an offense that led the NFL in scoring and averaged 131.6 yards rushing and 272.2 yards passing a game.