The pinnacle of each and every NFL season for the fans is the Super Bowl, which has millions and millions of people watching throughout the world. Many who have not watched a football game all year attend parties to watch the most important game of the NFL season. The Super Bowl often pits the two best teams in football against each other, and it is not an easy road to get to the big game. Teams have great players to make it this far and there is different ways a team can be constructed to make a Super Bowl run.
The starters on offense and defense are usually key players for a Super Bowl champion, and can make the difference between winning and losing the game. Not every team is complete on both sides of the ball. Some teams have a high powered offense and a defense that is average, and some have a dominant defense and a poor offense. Even the winner of the Super Bowl is not always complete. Teams always have a small flaw or two, and these flaws can be covered up by great play from the rest of the team.
Here are the Best and Worst starters on the last 10 NFL Super Bowl Champions:
20 2006 Indianapolis Colts - Best: Peyton Manning
Peyton Manning is one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play in the NFL, and his Super Bowl victory in 2006 was a burden off of his shoulders. For years Manning was known for leading the Colts to successful runs in the regular season. The playoffs presented a more challenging task for Manning, and the Colts often times would under perform when the games meant the most. Manning faced his toughest test yet when he ran into the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game.
19 2006 Indianapolis Colts - Worst: Gilbert Gardner
Gilbert Gardner had a great collegiate career at Purdue University, and was drafted in the third round of the 2004 NFL draft by the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts were known as a team that had an incredible offense but a lackluster defense during their years with Peyton Manning as quarterback.
18 2007 New York Giants - Best: Osi Umenioyra
17 2007 New York Giants - Worst: Reggie Torbor
Reggie Torber was not the opening day starter for the Giants at linebacker, but when Mathias Kiwanuka broke his fibula Torber was needed to start alongside All Pro Antonio Pierce for the remainder of the season and Super Bowl run. The Giants had plenty of great players on the defense to pick up the slack for Torbor's poor play. During the Giants' entire playoff run Torbor only registered 10 tackles and one sack, and on the biggest stage of his career against the Patriots he was only able to get two tackles throughout the entirety of the game.
16 2008 Pittsburgh Steelers - Best: Ben Roethlisberger
15 2008 Pittsburgh Steelers - Worst: Darnell Stapleton
Darnell Stapleton did not have a lot of promise coming out of Rutgers which has failed to produce a lot of great football players. The Pittsburgh Steelers decided to give the young lineman a chance when they signed the undrafted free agent to a contract, and he unexpectedly was thrust into a starting role during the Steelers' Super Bowl run. He was made the starting guard four games into the 2008 NFL season due to injuries suffered on the Pittsburgh o-line. The o-line of the Steelers allowed three sacks for -22 yards which was not too bad for having someone like Stapleton manning a starting spot.
14 2009 New Orleans Saints - Best: Drew Brees
13 2009 New Orleans Saints - Worst: Malcolm Jenkins
12 2010 Green Bay Packers - Best: Aaron Rodgers
11 2010 Green Bay Packers - Worst: Quinn Johnson
Quinn Johnson had to fill in as the starting fullback when starter Korey Hall hurt himself after starting 12 games during the season. He was a fifth round draft pick of the Green Bay Packers back in 2009, and there weren't high expectations placed on him. During his time in Green Bay, Johnson was not even capable of receiving any carries. He also played a very minimal role in the passing game when with the Packers, and he only had three receptions for 26 yards with the team that drafted him.
10 2011 New York Giants - Best: Eli Manning
9 2011 New York Giants - Worst: Jake Ballard
Jake Ballard did not have such a good Super Bowl. He was fortunate to be in the league after being undrafted in 2010, but the Giants signed him and he worked his way up to become a starter for the team. Against the Patriots in the biggest game of his career he was only able to catch two balls for 10 yards. To make matters worse Ballard tore his ACL in the second half of that game. Ballard attempted to get back on the field, but he collapsed when he tried running and cutting on the sideline.
8 2012 Baltimore Ravens - Best: Joe Flacco
Many questioned whether Joe Flacco was a top 10 quarterback or not before he led the Baltimore Ravens to the Super Bowl. Flacco had been considered an average at best quarterback amongst fellow quarterbacks in the league, but his 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions in the Ravens playoffs run would shed the label of 'average' from Flacco. The Ravens struggled towards the end of the season. Not many thought they were capable of winning the Super Bowl after firing their offensive coordinator, but they made it all the way to the big game by pulling off some upsets along the way.
7 2012 Baltimore Ravens Worst: Ma'ake Kemoeatu
6 2013 Seattle Seahawks - Best: Marshawn Lynch
Marshawn Lynch may not have had his best game in the Super Bowl, but he was certainly the best player on the Seahawks during their Super Bowl run. The man known as Beast Mode ran for over 1,200 yards during the regular season to go along with his 12 rushing touchdowns. The Seahawks were not favored to win against what was considered the best offense in NFL history, but the Seahawks were able to thrash the Broncos by a final score of 43-8.
5 2013 Seattle Seahawks - Worst: Byron Maxwell
Byron Maxwell was a member of the vaunted Seahawks secondary known as the Legion of Boom. The secondary included All Pros in Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas, and Richard Sherman, and Maxwell was by far the weakest link. Maxwell did not have to cover a team’s top wide receiver on most occasions due to Richard Sherman being the team’s best corner back. Maxwell was able to force a fumble and get four tackles in the Super Bowl, which cemented his place as the team’s starting cornerback opposite of Richard Sherman.
4 2014 New England Patriots - Best: Tom Brady
This comes as no surprise to anyone that remotely knows anything about the New England Patriots that Tom Brady was the best player on the New England Patriots during their Super Bowl run in 2014. Although Brady did not make the play of the game which Malcolm Butler was able to do when he intercepted Russell Wilson with minimal time left in the game, Brady was able to set the record for most completed passes in a Super Bowl by completing 37 passes against a stout Seattle defense. He threw two interceptions in the game which is almost unthinkable.
3 2014 New England Patriots - Worst: Patrick Chung
Patrick Chung was a second round draft pick of the New England Patriots in 2009, and he has spent all but one year of his career with the Patriots so far. That one year was with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013. Chung struggled with the Eagles, and after his terrible performances with the Eagles he re-signed with the Patriots in 2014. Chung was put in the starting line up in a secondary that featured Darelle Revis and Devin McCourty, and with these two All-Pros surrounding him he did not have to worry much about making mistakes.
2 2015 Denver Broncos - Best: Von Miller
1 2015 Denver Broncos - Worst: Peyton Manning
Peyton Manning is one of the most well decorated quarterbacks in the history of the NFL, and was playing at a high level with the Broncos in 2013, when he led the Broncos to perhaps one of the best offensive seasons as a team in NFL history. The 2015 season saw Manning have to deal with injury for seemingly the first time since he had joined the Broncos. Brock Osweiler assumed the role of starter for six regular season games, but Manning was named the top dog for the postseason.
In the postseason Manning was only able to complete 55 percent of his passes. The Broncos won the Super Bowl despite Manning only being able to throw for 141 yards during the course of the entire game.
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