A tradition almost as long as the Super Bowl itself, a lesser known player always finds a way into the spotlight on Super Bowl Sunday. We have seen it in the last several years. Who can forget about David Tyree’s catch that ultimately helped put the Giants on top for good? Let’s not forget about the Tracy Porter interception to seal up a Saints Super Bowl title. Kony Ealy wasn’t a big name until his three sacks and an interception in Super Bowl 50. Malcolm Bulter rose to stardom after his big interception at the goal line to seal Lombardi number four for the Patriots. And flip it back to last season, where we saw Grady Jarrett light it up from the interior of the Falcons line, along with a fantastic second half performance from Patriots running back James White.
It happens every year, there’s no doubt about it. Let’s take a quick look at five players who could be the unsung hero in Super Bowl LII.
The Eagles defensive line is the key to a victory on Sunday, there’s no doubting it. With guys like Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham leading the charge up front, they will keep providing pressure to Tom Brady. Despite being left out of the spotlight, Timmy Jernigan has had a very good year on that Philly defensive line. Jernigan was brought in via trade to help the interior, and he has done just that. He helps a lot in the run game, but he will occasionally break through and get to the quarterback. Jernigan is a name to watch on Sunday with the Pats keying in on Graham and Cox.
A New England Patriots running back always seems to find his way onto this list. James White was on last year’s list, and he had a big game as we all know. This time around, Rex Burkhead is the running back under the radar. Burkhead is super productive in the Patriots offense when healthy. The Pats feel comfortable giving it to him in between the tackles and love to use him in space. The Eagles linebacking core isn’t the best without Jordan Hicks, so that could be area the Patriots attack frequently. Dion Lewis and White are on the radar this time, so it could be Burkhead’s turn.
Many believed the Eagles’ secondary would be an achilles heel this season, including myself. To everyone’s surprise, they have held up just fine all season long. Leading the charge is Patrick Robinson, a corner who has been with the Saints and Chargers previously. Robinson is perhaps the deepest dive of the five here, but the opportunity should be there to take one the other way. Tom Brady has thrown at least one interception in his last three Super Bowl starts, and that is likely to continue with the pressure he will face. I think Robinson could end up with that interception, which could be a game changer.
The Patriots have a group of weapons that fit their offense so well. Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola will get the headlines on the outside at receiver, but Phillip Dorsett could find a way to make a big play for the Pats offense. The Patriots acquired the former first round pick from the Colts in the Jacoby Brissett trade. Dorsett hasn’t seen a ton of targets this season, but when he does, he either catches one in the intermediate-to-deep area of the field or is given the opportunity to make something happen in space. Dorsett could see a deep ball go his way with him finding the end zone.
The Eagles are loaded at the tight end position. Zach Ertz is rising among the tight end ranks, and Trey Burton continues to make a name for himself. Burton operates very well as a pass catcher with a bit more speed than you would think. Nick Foles also likes to target tight ends, so with the Pats keying in on Ertz, Burton could see a bigger volume of targets than usual. Who knows? Maybe he catches two touchdowns en route to an Eagles victory?
Who do you think will be the unsung hero in Super Bowl LII? Follow Jake on Twitter @JSchyvinck13 or us @SportsGuysBlog to talk all things Super Bowl!