James Harrison had the miraculous 100-yd interception return for a touchdown in Super Bowl XLIII; Troy Polamalu sealed the Steelers’ AFC Championship victory over the hated Ravens with his own, equally amazing, interception return for a touchdown. But neither player was the Steelers most consistently dominant defensive performer throughout the Super Bowl run. That distinction goes to LaMarr Woodley.
In a sports media obsessed with creating superstars and icons it’s surprising that Woodley’s record setting postseason play was not highlighted more throughout the playoffs.
The second year LB made play after play, imposing his will on every opponent in his path, helping to lead the Steelers to their sixth Lombardi trophy. To give you an idea of how dominate his play was, lets compare his stats to those of the more heralded Harrison and Polamalu.
In the Divisional Round against San Diego, Woodley recorded 5 tackles and 2 sacks, while Harrison added 4 tackles and a sack of his own. Polamalu was relatively quiet with just 3 tackles.
Against the Ravens in the AFC Championship Game Woodley racked up 7 tackles, 2 more sacks (setting a playoff record for most consecutive multi-sack games-3) and 1 pass defended. Polamalu filled up the highlight reels with his 4 tackle, 2 passes defended, 1 interception and 1 touchdown performance. Harrison played solid, contributing 5 tackles and 1 sack.
And of course, in Super Bowl XLIII, Woodley once again recorded 2 sacks to go along with 4 tackles and 1 forced fumble. Harrison provided the highlight of all highlights with his 100 yd interception return for a touchdown, while adding 4 tackles. Polamalu was once again somewhat quiet in this one, recording just 2 tackles (0 solo tackles) and 1 pass defended.
Without a question, Harrison and Polamalu had the ESPN TOP 10 type plays throughout the playoffs, but Woodley went out and averaged 6 tackles and 2 sacks a game. Those are incredible numbers for a guy who is just two years removed from the college game. Oh, by the way he did end Super Bowl 43 with a sack and forced fumble of Kurt Warner.