Today, the Pittsburgh Steelers voted safety Troy Polamalu team MVP and I'm sure it was close to unanimous. In a year where Ben Roethlisberger missed the first four games and the Steelers offense was lethargic at times, Polamalu and the defense stepped up and helped the Steelers go 11-4 and get into the playoffs.
Polamalu, who was just voted to his fifth Pro-Bowl this week, was absolutely electric for most of the season. He impacts the game unlike any defensive player I've ever seen.
The play he made early in the season against the Tennessee Titans, jumping over the offensive line to tackle Kerry Collins, who was trying to do a quarterback sneak, was incredible. Nobody makes that play besides Troy. Polamalu also had an interception in that game and has six picks on the season, despite not playing in every game.
Polamalu practically defeated the Cincinnati Bengals single-handily in the teams' second meeting. He intercepted two of Carson Palmer's passes and returned one for a touchdown. The Steelers might have trouble winning that game if Troy doesn't play. That pick-six by Troy set the tone for that game.
Perhaps no bigger play was made by a Steeler all year than the play Troy made against the Baltimore Ravens at Baltimore. The Ravens had the lead with 2:51 left in the game and Troy blitzed Joe Flacco, causing a fumble which the Steelers recovered. That play set up a game-winning touchdown pass by Big Ben to Isaac Redman. Nobody makes that play at that time besides Troy.
Did anyone else deserve the team MVP award other than Troy Polamalu?
The only negative on the season for Troy is that he once again fell to an injury. Last year, Troy missed 11 games and the Steelers defense, especially the secondary, suffered without him. This year marks three out of the last four seasons in which Troy has failed to play in every game. It's frustrating because who knows how Troy's stats look if he's healthy every year.
The Steelers just aren't the same team when Troy doesn't play. Look at the game against the New York Jets. Playing against a young QB that's prone to make mistakes, the Steelers defense forced zero turnovers. I would like to think the outcome is different if Troy is able to play.
Troy was certainly the logical choice to by named the team MVP. You may have an argument that James Harrison, who has played every game this year, also deserved consideration. Despite his penalties and fines, Harrison has a had another big year statistically.
However, Harrison just didn't make as many big plays as Troy did. Had Ben played in every game, he might have won the award. But, he had zero chance of winning it by missing four games.
Looking forward, I hope Troy can get healthy for the playoffs because the Steelers have almost a zero chance of advancing without him. I also want to see Troy be able to stay healthy from here-on-out in his career. He has the potential to be one the greatest football players of all time, and it's not fair that he seems to be injury prone.
If he can stay healthy, I have little doubt that he will go down as such. I have zero doubt that Troy deserved to be the team MVP this year.