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The Super Bowl MVP Goes To...Who?!

by Vincent Masi ESPN Stats and Information

Have you ever watched the Super Bowl and thought you knew who the MVP was going to be and then when the winner was announced, you were totally shocked as to who won? Were you left scratching your head and thinking: How could it go to this guy? He didn't do anything big.With the Super Bowl days away, we took a look back at every Super Bowl MVP and tried to look and see if there could be a case made for someone else to win the award.

This is NOT meant to take anything away the MVP from the player who won, but merely show there were other players who played a very important part in their team's victory in the biggest game of their lives. In some cases, it was hard to find someone else to make a case for, others seemed to be fairly obvious. So this is for all the Otis Taylor's, Jim O'Brien's, Rod Martin's and Isaac Bruce's of the world -- you are not overlooked in our eyes. Bart Starr was the MVP of Super Bowl I...but another Packer made a pretty strong case for the trophy...

After the jump, we pose alternative MVP winners from Super Bowl I through Super Bowl XLIII.

SUPER BOWL I

ACTUAL: Bart Starr, Packers

MAKE A CASE FOR: Max McGee, Packers

McGee had 7 catches for 138 yards and 2 TD filling in for Boyd Dollar. He only caught 4 passes the entire season before SB I.

SUPER BOWL II

Actual: Bart Starr, Packers

Make a Case for: Don Chandler, Packers

It’s hard to make a case for the kicker, but Chandler did connect on 4 field goals, including what was the game-winning score with one second left in the first half.

SUPER BOWL III

ACTUAL: Joe Namath, Jets

MAKE A CASE FOR: Matt Snell, Jets

Snell scored the only TD for the Jets in their historic upset, not Namath. Snell had 30 rushes for 121 yards in the victory.

SUPER BOWL IV

ACTUAL: Len Dawson, Chiefs

MAKE A CASE FOR: Otis Taylor, Chiefs

Taylor’s catch and run probably helped Dawson win the MVP. He had 6 catches for 81 yards and his 46-yard TD reception were the final points in Kansas City’s 23-7 victory.

SUPER BOWL V

ACTUAL: Chuck Howley, Cowboys

MAKE A CASE FOR: Jim O’Brien, Colts

Howley came from the losing side, so trying to find someone in the Blunder Bowl was difficult. The best case could be to give it to O’Brien, who hit from 32 yards out with 5 seconds left for the win.

SUPER BOWL VI

ACTUAL: Roger Staubach, Cowboys

MAKE A CASE FOR: Duane Thomas, Cowboys

Thomas had the most carries and rush yards of any player in the game, rushing 19 times for 95 yards. His TD in the third quarter sealed the game for the Cowboys.

SUPER BOWL VII

ACTUAL: Jake Scott, Dolphins

MAKE A CASE FOR: Larry Csonka, Dolphins

Although he didn’t score a TD, Csonka did rush for 112 yards on just 15 carries as the Dolphins secured their perfect season.

SUPER BOWL VIII

ACTUAL: Larry Csonka, Dolphins

MAKE A CASE FOR: Dolphins Defense

It’s hard not to give it to Csonka, who rushed for 2 TD and 145 yards on 33 carries. But the Dolphins defense held the Vikings to just 238 total yards and just 26:15 of total possession time.

SUPER BOWL IX

ACTUAL: Franco Harris, Steelers

MAKE A CASE FOR: Steelers Defense

The Steel Curtain recorded a safety when Dwight White tackled Fran Tarkenton in the end zone. The Steelers D allowed just 119 yards of total offense, including a record-low 19 yards rushing.

SUPER BOWL X

ACTUAL: Lynn Swann, Steelers

MAKE A CASE FOR: Terry Bradshaw, Steelers

This Super Bowl is known for Swann’s acrobatic catches, but someone had to get the ball to him right? Bradshaw threw just 19 times and collected 209 yards with 2 TD, pretty impressive against the Cowboys defense.

SUPER BOWL XI

ACTUAL: Fred Biletnikoff, Raiders

MAKE A CASE FOR: Clarence Davis, Raiders

The Raiders run game was the story of the Super Bowl. Clarence Davis led the way with 137 of the team’s 266 yards on the ground. While he did not score, he was a key cog in Oakland’s offense that went 9-for-18 on third down.

SUPER BOWL XII

ACTUAL: Randy White & Harvey Martin, Cowboys

MAKE A CASE FOR: Entire Cowboys Defense

They gave the MVP to two of the players on the Cowboys defense, why not give it to all of them. They intercepted the Broncos 4 times and recovered two fumbles in what was a very sloppy game. Denver managed just 156 yards of total offense.

SUPER BOWL XIII

ACTUAL: Terry Bradshaw, Steelers

MAKE A CASE FOR: Lynn Swann, Steelers

We took away Swann’s MVP in Super Bowl X, so let’s reward him here for his 7 catches and 124 yards with a TD in this victory.

SUPER BOWL XIV

ACTUAL: Terry Bradshaw, Steelers

MAKE A CASE FOR: John Stallworth, Steelers

He only had three catches, but he made them count. One of them was a 73-yard TD that put the Steelers ahead for good. Then his 45-yard catch helped Pittsburgh to a score which iced its second straight Super Bowl title.

SUPER BOWL XV

ACTUAL: Jim Plunkett, Raiders

MAKE A CASE FOR: Rod Martin, Raiders

Hard to ignore Plunkett’s 3 TD performance, but Martin led the Raiders defense in this one, setting a Super Bowl record with three interceptions. Philadelphia managed just 2.7 yards per rush against Martin and the defense.

SUPER BOWL XVI

ACTUAL: Joe Montana, 49ers

MAKE A CASE FOR: Ken Anderson, Bengals

This was a stretch considering the 49ers defense had an impressive goal-line stand and Montana was great. But his counterpart was pretty good in defeat. Anderson set Super Bowl records for completions (25) and completion percentage (73.5) while throwing 2 Pass TD and running for another one.

SUPER BOWL XVII

ACTUAL: John Riggins, Redskins

MAKE A CASE FOR: Redskins Defense

It’s hard to ignore the Super Bowl-record rushing performance by Riggins. But, the Redskins defense was stellar holding the Dolphins to just 176 total yards and just two first downs through the air.

SUPER BOWL XVIII

ACTUAL: Marcus Allen, Raiders

MAKE A CASE FOR: Cliff Branch, Raiders

While the signature moment of this game is Allen’s 74-yard run in the third quarter, people might forget who had the game-winning TD. That was Branch, who put the Raiders up 14-0 with a 12-yard TD from Jim Plunkett. The Raiders would go on to win 38-9.

SUPER BOWL XIX

ACTUAL: Joe Montana, 49ers

MAKE A CASE FOR: Roger Craig, 49ers

Montana set a Super Bowl record with 331 yards and 3 TD, so that’s hard to overlook. But Craig did damage both on the ground and through the air. The RB had 58 yards on the ground and also had 7 catches for 77 yards with 3 total TD.

SUPER BOWL XX

ACTUAL: Richard Dent, Bears

MAKE A CASE FOR: Willie Gault, Bears

This was the coronation of the Bears defensive dominance. But forgotten was Gault’s performance, catching 4 passes for 129 yards, with his longest catch going for 60 yards.

SUPER BOWL XXI

ACTUAL: Phil Simms, Giants

MAKE A CASE FOR: Joe Morris, Giants

One of the most accurate performances in playoff history, Simms’ accuracy is tough to overlook. But Morris was the game’s leading rusher with 67 yards and what was the game-winning TD in the 39-20 win.

SUPER BOWL XXII

ACTUAL: Doug Williams, Redskins

MAKE A CASE FOR: Timmy Smith, Redskins

On just 22 carries, Smith rushed for a record 204 yards, an amazing performance that seems to be forgotten. He scored twice on runs of 58 yards and 4 yards as the Redskins exploded with a 42-10 win.

SUPER BOWL XXIII

ACTUAL: Jerry Rice, 49ers

MAKE A CASE FOR: Joe Montana, 49ers

We could make the case that Montana could have won a 3rd Super Bowl MVP with this performance. He was 23-36 for 357 yards with 2 TD and of course led the 49ers on the game-winning 92-yard drive that was capped with John Taylor’s TD with 34 seconds left.

SUPER BOWL XXIV

ACTUAL: Joe Montana, 49ers

MAKE A CASE FOR: Jerry Rice, 49ers

So we’ll just flip-flop MVPs from the previous year. Yes Montana threw for 5 touchdowns, but there had to be someone on the other end. All Rice did was catch 7 passes for 148 yards and 3 TD in the blowout win.

SUPER BOWL XXV

ACTUAL: Otis Anderson, Giants

MAKE A CASE FOR: Jeff Hostetler, Giants

Who led that record 75-yard drive that took up a whopping 9:29 in the third quarter? It was The Hoss. Hostetler, who was playing for the injured Phil Simms, threw for 222 yards and a TD.

SUPER BOWL XXVI

ACTUAL: Mark Rypien, Redskins

MAKE A CASE FOR: Gary Clark, Redskins

Buffalo had narrowed down a 24-0 deficit down to 14 points when Rypien found Clark on a 30-yard TD late in the third quarter. Clark finished with 7 catches, 114 yards and that game-clinching TD.

SUPER BOWL XXVII

ACTUAL: Troy Aikman, Cowboys

MAKE A CASE FOR: Michael Irvin, Cowboys

It’s tough to dispute Aikman’s 4 touchdown passes in the 52-17 win. But the game was still up in the air when Irvin went to work. He caught 2 TD late in the first half to take the Cowboys lead from 14-10 to 28-10. Irvin had 6 catches for 114 yards and the two important scores.

SUPER BOWL XXVIII

ACTUAL: Emmitt Smith, Cowboys

MAKE A CASE FOR: Jim Kelly, Bills

Let’s reward the Bills losing 4 straight Super Bowls by giving the MVP to their quarterback. Kelly completed a Super Bowl record 31 passes on a whopping 50 attempts for 260 yards.

SUPER BOWL XXIX

ACTUAL: Steve Young, 49ers

MAKE A CASE FOR: Jerry Rice, 49ers

Steve Young got the monkey off his back in this game by throwing for a record 6 touchdowns. But you could flip-flop and give it to his main man, Jerry Rice. He had 10 catches for 149 yards and three TD, one each in the first, third and fourth quarters of the blowout victory.

SUPER BOWL XXX

ACTUAL: Larry Brown, Cowboys

MAKE A CASE FOR: Troy Aikman, Cowboys

Brown’s interceptions led to two touchdowns, but Aikman was his solid self. He was 15-23 for 209 yards and a TD pass going to Jay Novacek.

SUPER BOWL XXXI

ACTUAL: Desmond Howard, Packers

MAKE A CASE FOR: Antonio Freeman, Packers

The 99-yard kickoff touchdown that capped the scoring by Howard was definitely exciting. But how about an 81-yard touchdown by Freeman from Brett Favre, wasn’t that too? That TD put the Packers ahead for good. He finished with 3 catches and 105 yards and that important TD.

SUPER BOWL XXXII

ACTUAL: Terrell Davis, Broncos

MAKE A CASE FOR: Antonio Freeman, Packers

It’s hard to overlook Davis’ performance and give it to someone on the losing side. But Freeman was pretty good in that game. He led all receivers with 9 catches and 126 yards. His 2 TD started the scoring for the Packers and finished the scoring for the Packers.

SUPER BOWL XXXIII

ACTUAL: John Elway, Broncos

MAKE A CASE FOR: Rod Smith, Broncos

It was Elway’s last game, totally understood. But Smith had a terrific game. He caught that terrific 80-yard pass from Elway in the 2nd quarter. He finished with 5 catches for 152 yards and a TD.

SUPER BOWL XXXIV

ACTUAL: Kurt Warner, Rams

MAKE A CASE FOR: Isaac Bruce, Rams

The Kurt Warner story had the perfect ending in this game. But who helped make that story come to life? Bruce caught the 73-yard touchdown pass from Warner that gave the Rams the lead with under 2 minutes remaining. In total, Bruce had 6 catches for 162 yards and a TD.

SUPER BOWL XXXV

ACTUAL: Ray Lewis, Ravens

MAKE A CASE FOR: Jamal Lewis, Ravens

This was the culmination of the Ravens unreal defense, but forgotten was Lewis’ performance on the ground. He rushed 27 times for 102 yards and had a touchdown in the fourth quarter which, alongside Jermaine Lewis’ kickoff return TD, put the game away.

SUPER BOWL XXXVI

ACTUAL: Tom Brady, Patriots

MAKE A CASE FOR: Adam Vinatieri, Patriots

Brady’s numbers weren’t overly impressive – 16-27, 145 yards and a TD – but he did lead the Patriots on that game-winning drive. But who finished it off? Vinatieri kicked the first “walk-off” field goal in Super Bowl history, connecting from 48 yards, which is none too easy in and of itself. It was the 2nd of two field goals for Vinatieri in the game.

SUPER BOWL XXXVII

ACTUAL: Dexter Jackson, Buccaneers

MAKE A CASE FOR: Michael Pittman, Buccaneers

The Buccaneers defense intercepted the Raiders five times and returned three of them for touchdowns. Tough to ignore. But Pittman controlled the game offensively for Tampa Bay. He rushed 29 times for 124 yards and his 24-yard rush was the longest running play for either team.

SUPER BOWL XXXVIII

ACTUAL: Tom Brady, Patriots

MAKE A CASE FOR: Deion Branch, Patriots

Brady’s numbers are hard to argue, but Branch had a game to remember. He had 10 catches, 143 yards and a TD, which was the first score of the game, which came in the 2nd quarter.

SUPER BOWL XXXIX

ACTUAL: Deion Branch, Patriots

MAKE A CASE FOR: Rodney Harrison, Patriots

Because we’re “giving” Branch MVP the previous year, let’s give this one to the veteran defensive player. He had two interceptions, the last one clinched the game when the Eagles were trying for a possible tying or winning score.

SUPER BOWL XL

ACTUAL: Hines Ward, Steelers

MAKE A CASE FOR: Willie Parker, Steelers

Ward had over 100 yards receiving and did catch the final score of the game. But it’s hard to forget about Parker’s 75-yard TD run, the longest run in Super Bowl history, which came shortly after halftime and was the game-winning score.

SUPER BOWL XLI

ACTUAL: Peyton Manning, Colts

MAKE A CASE FOR: Dominic Rhodes, Colts

Manning didn’t have one of his typical outstanding performances. And it might be forgotten just how well the Colts running attack was in this game. Rhodes had 113 yards on 21 attempts and scored an important touchdown midway through the 2nd quarter, which helped the Colts boost their lead en route to their first Super Bowl win since 1970.

SUPER BOWL XLII

ACTUAL: Eli Manning, Giants

MAKE A CASE FOR: Giants Defense

The Giants defense sacked Tom Brady five times and registered nine quarterback hits, pretty amazing considering how dominating the Patriots offense was that season. Jay Alford’s sack of Brady on the final drive was a culmination of just how perfect that defense played.

SUPER BOWL XLIII

ACTUAL: Santonio Holmes, Steelers

MAKE A CASE FOR: Kurt Warner, Cardinals

Maybe it’s because he just retired, but Warner’s performance was unreal. He threw for the 2nd-most yards in Super Bowl history – 377 yards. And his 64-yard TD pass to Larry Fitzgerald put the Cardinals ahead late in the 4th quarter. Yes, Holmes’ catch was memorable, but Warner was spectacular.