Super Bowl 2011: Packers Desmond Bishop Shines When Given the Opportunity

Zach KruseSenior Analyst IFebruary 2, 2011

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 23:  Desmond Bishop #55 of the Green Bay Packers reacts after the Packers 21-14 victory against the Chicago Bears in the NFC Championship Game at Soldier Field on January 23, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

While there have been countless plays that have catapulted the Green Bay Packers into the Super Bowl, one in particular might have been the most important and it came from a player that wasn't even supposed to start heading into the season.

Just under a month ago, the Philadelphia Eagles had the ball down five points in the fourth quarter of the NFC Wildcard game.

With 1:37 left, Eagles quarterback Michael Vick found Desean Jackson on a simple crossing pattern and after making safety Charlie Peprah miss, Jackson had nothing but green grass around him. 

As Jackson was breaking into the clear, however, Packers linebacker Desmond Bishop reached out and got just enough to bring Jackson down at the Packers 38-yard line. 

Without Bishop's shoestring tackle, it's likely the electrifying Jackson would have scored and given the Eagles a late lead. 

"I think that might have been the biggest tackle of my career," Bishop told ESPN after the game. "He probably would have scored."

Rather, Tramon Williams intercepted Vick in the end zone a few plays later and the Packers moved on to face the Atlanta Falcons

It's been plays like these, from players no one expected, that have gotten the Packers into the Super Bowl. 

Because who really would have guessed the most important tackle of the season would have been by Bishop at the beginning of the year?

Heading into the 2010 season, Bishop was the Packers' backup middle linebacker and an important part of their special teams unit. 

Followers of the Packers always suspected he had the talent, but a popular nickname for Bishop was Mr. August—he looked great during the preseason but disappointed when called upon in the regular season. 

That perception changed this season. 

Nick Barnett, the Packers veteran leader at middle linebacker, was lost for the season after just four games and Bishop was immediately thrust into the starting lineup for the remaining 12 games.

And while Bishop had covered for injuries in the past, at no time was he expected to be the starter for an extended period of time like he was required to this season. 

The thought of that reality began as a worry for Packers' fans, but as the weeks progressed on, many realized it had been a blessing in disguise. 

"Bishop played better in their final 12 games than [Barnett] has at any stretch over the past 3-4 years," an NFC scout said during the playoffs. "Barnett still a good player in this league, but this defense was better suited with Bishop in there."

It's hard to argue with that logic. Even though the Packers' defense was No. 2 against the run in 2009, Green Bay were No. 2 in points allowed this year—clearly a more important statistic.

And while Bishop wasn't the only factor, the 2010 Packers' defense was considerably better than the '09 version. 

In just 12 starts, Bishop finished the season second on the team in tackles (103), registered three sacks, two forced fumbles, eight pass defensed and returned an interception for a touchdown. 

While those kind of numbers would be impressive in a full season, it was Bishop's fourth and final tackle in Philadelphia that will mark his most important contribution of 2010. 

Because if he didn't bring down Jackson—his former roommate at California—than the Packers probably aren't playing for the Super Bowl this Sunday.