NFL Playoffs: A Time For Unsung Heroes To Step to the Plate

Orly Rios Jr.Analyst IIJanuary 20, 2011

How many people know that Timmy Smith holds the Super Bowl record for yards rushing in a game with 204?
How many people know that Timmy Smith holds the Super Bowl record for yards rushing in a game with 204?George Rose/Getty Images

Although he was a first-round pick, the biggest play of Freddie Mitchell's short four-year career was a 28-yard catch on 4th-and-26 in the 2004 NFC Divisional playoff game between the Eagles and Packers. The catch helped the Eagles tie the game and eventually win in overtime.

Mitchell is just one in a series of unlikely football heroes to emerge.

Who can forget backup quarterback Jeff Hostetler leading the New York Giants to a win over the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXV (25)? Or how about cornerback Eric Davis, who during the 1994 NFC Championship game against the Dallas Cowboys, returned an interception for a touchdown then forced a fumble on the next Dallas series to help put the San Francisco 49ers up 14-0 en route to a 38-28 win

How about cornerback Larry Brown of the Dallas Cowboys, who intercepted two Neil O'Donnell passes in Super Bowl XXX (30), the second helping cement the win for Dallas against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Recent memory has brought out the likes of New York Giants WR David Tyree, whose helmet catch kept the Giants final drive in Super Bowl XLII (42) alive. Four plays later, the Giants took a 17-14 lead over the New England Patriots.

What about Washington Redskins running back Timmy Smith, whose 204 yards rushing in Super Bowl XXII (22) is still a record? Or how about New Orleans Saints CB Tracy Porter, whose interception return for a touchdown helped seal the win for the Saints in Super Bowl XLIV (44)?

If you were not around to see last year's Super Bowl, then you might only recognize Tracy Porter as the defender who was flung 10 yards down field by a Marshawn Lynch stiff arm in this year's NFC Wild Card game.

Last Sunday night, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown was added to the list of unsung heroes, when his 58-yard catch and run on 3rd-and-19 helped the Steelers to the go-ahead touchdown in their win over the Baltimore Ravens.

This weekend's conference championship games are no different with Chicago Bears hosting the Green Bay Packers and the New York Jets on the road for the sixth straight time in the playoffs against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Perhaps the unsung playoff hero could come from a player from the past. Most people remember Tom Brady and his three Super Bowl rings, but how many people actually remember that Drew Bledsoe, not Tom Brady, got the Patriots past the Steelers in the AFC Title game? 

The question is, who can step up? Who will step up?

I wish I could give you a list of players or some slideshow, but the beauty of the NFL Playoffs, is that it's often the players never mentioned who make the biggest impact. Who knew or heard of David Tyree prior to his helmet catch against the Patriots?