Moments after the league announced Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman as MVP of Super Bowl LIII, Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell took to Twitter with his outrage. “The offense only scores 13 points and they give MVP to Edelman but the D only gave up 3 points and Gilmore had forced a fumble, a int, 3 PBUs and 5 Tackles!?! Smh no respect for the masterpiece on Defense!”
Campbell is not wrong about a lack of credit for the Patriots' defensive performance. According to the NFL, not a single MVP vote was cast for a defensive player. Edelman was not the unanimous winner, but received the overwhelming amount of votes from the panel of 16, made up of members of the Pro Football Writers Association of America, selected members of the electronic broadcast media and by fans interactively through NFL.com.
And Campbell is certainly not alone in his opinion that Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore was robbed. Bears cornerback Prince Amukamara also tweeted his support for Gilmore’s MVP candidacy. I polled a handful of NFL evaluators and all were shocked to find out that a defensive player didn’t receive a single vote. “Popularity contest,” said one scout. “Tom Brady had no touchdown passes, and Edelman also didn’t score.”
“No one on offense deserved recognition,” said another scout.
A case could also be made for linebacker Dont’a Hightower, who was dominant as a run defender and in pressuring Rams quarterback Jared Goff for the entire game. Hightower had two tackles, two sacks, a pass breakup and three QB hits. “Hightower would have my vote as a co-MVP with Gilmore,” said one scout. “He was a beast!”
Edelman certainly was the most impressive offensive player in the game. He caught 10 passes for 141 yards, eight of those 10 catches went for first downs, and he consistently won matchups against the Rams secondary. But the Patriots defense allowed only three points to one of the league’s highest-scoring offenses. It doesn’t seem right that the MVP of a game defined by defense was an offensive player.
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