Super Bowl XLV looms large as a possible defensive showdown between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers, and the old adage that "defense wins championships" could ring true once again.
Apart from the Vince Lombardi Trophy, one of the most prestigious awards for this big game would be that of Super Bowl MVP.
Most of the time, the Super Bowl MVP is someone on the offensive side of the ball (37 times), but sometimes there are defensive MVPs. As this contest could very well be a defensive battle, come with me as analyze some of the best defensive Super Bowl MVP performances of years past.
The most recent individual on defense to win the award, Dexter Jackson of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, intercepted two of Rich Gannon's passes in the first half of Super Bowl XXXVII as the the Buccaneers steamrolled the Oakland Raiders, 48-21.
Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens was able to be the leader of the team in this Super Bowl in 2001 in which Baltimore did not allow a single offensive touchdown.
Because of his three tackles, two assists and four passes defensed, and more importantly because of his leadership ability in this Super Bowl, he was awarded the MVP award in Baltimore's 34-7 victory over the Giants.
Larry Brown of the Dallas Cowboys was able to lead his team to victory over the Neil O'Donnell-led Pittsburgh Steelers in 1996 by intercepting two passes.
The first interception was in the third quarter and would lead to a score for the Cowboys and the second interception sealed the game for Dallas.
In the Bears' 46-10 victory over the New England Patriots in 1986, Richard Dent was instrumental in helping lead the team to this dominating victory.
He helped lead the Bears to limiting the Patriots to a record low of just seven yards rushing, recorded 1.5 of the team's record seven sacks and even forced two fumbles.
NOTE: my apologies to Harvey Martin as I could only find a photo of Randy White...
In Super Bowl XII, we saw the first and only time that a pair have shared the MVP award.
In the Cowboys' 27-10 victory over the Broncos, Randy White and Harvey Martin combined to force eight Denver turnovers and were instrumental in the Cowboys pass rush, which limited Denver to just eight completions on 25 attempts.
Jake Scott of the Miami Dolphins was the leader in their 14-7 victory over the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII.
Because of his two interceptions—one of which was in the end zone—and his 55-yard punt return, the Dolphins were able to win this Super Bowl.
Chuck Howley of the Dallas Cowboys has the rather dubious distinction of being the only MVP from a losing team from Super Bowl V.
Howley's Cowboys lost the Colts 16-13 in 1970. His performance was marked by two interceptions and a recovered fumble in this 1971 Super Bowl.
In light of the fact that these two teams for this current Super Bowl are two very stellar defenses, this slide show begs the question: will there be a defensive MVP this year?
If the Steelers win, one could easily see Troy Polamalu getting the honor. If the Packers win, B.J. Raji might get the nod.
One thing is certain: this will be a very defense-oriented Super Bowl, and we could very easily have another defensive MVP award.