Posted: Monday January 9, 2006 4:00PM; Updated: Tuesday January 10, 2006 12:33AM
Want to argue about the NFL? Let's go ...
The Most Unstoppable Player
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Vince Young's performance last week got me thinking. Maybe one player can singlehandedly win a football game ... or even a championship.
If I had to pick one NFL player who had the best chance to have a Young-like impact on the playoffs, I would choose Steve Smith.
There are plenty of superstars still alive, but the diminutive Smith is a one-man secondary-buster whose brilliance could help the Panthers reach the Super Bowl. The Giants knew Carolina was going to look for Smith any time QB Jake Delhomme dropped back and they still couldn't stop him. With Terrell Owens in football exile, Smith is the NFL's best at making things happen after catching the ball. No one can catch and reach full speed faster than Smith. He doesn't drop the ball. He'll fight any bigger defensive back for a jump ball and win. He's effective underneath and lethal in the vertical passing game.
The scary thing is Smith, who was already the NFL's leading receiver, is just getting used to his role as a dominant player. "This is just the tip of the iceberg for him," Panthers offensive coordinator Dan Henning said. "He's still getting better. You think you're seeing something now, wait a couple of years."
Even with opponents game-planning against him, Smith will continue to shine. Now all the Panthers have to do is keep Delhomme alive against the Bears' pass rush so he can get his favorite receiver the ball.
Although I think Smith has the best chance to be the NFL's Vince Young, there are four other pretty good players who may just fit the bill.
1. Peyton Manning, Colts – He would be No. 1, but we've all seen him be stopped before and there's a chance that could happen again if Indy faces New England in the AFC Championship Game.
2. Shaun Alexander, Seahawks – Even if he has two or three huge games – which he might – he has to share the credit with Walter Jones and that dominant offensive line.
3. Tom Brady, Patriots – Bill Belichick doesn't want Brady to have a Vince Young-like performance, since they win with balance. Yet, the two-time Super Bowl MVP still stands out in his quiet way.
4. Brian Urlacher, Bears– The Defensive Player of the Year has been playing angry and can disrupt an entire offense by himself.
Let me know who you think is the most dominant player left in the playoffs.
-- Andrew Perloff (4:20 p.m.)
Are you kidding about Alexander? What had he ever done in the playoffs? The Skins are going to stuff him. Brady should be the runaway here. He is the only proven one on this list.
-- Tim , New Hampshire (4:32 p.m.)
I think that to be the most dominant player alive in the playoffs, you can't depend on other players to get the ball to you. Jake Delhomme can have bad games. I'd have to say Shaun Alexander, as long as Holmgren doesn't forget to use him!
-- KMAN , Boston (4:35 p.m.)
NO ONE is more dominant then Richard Seymour. Best overall player in the entire league. He is the heart and soul of the Patriots.
-- Paul , Toronto (4:39 p.m.)
I think Brady deserves to be top of the list precisely because he doesn't usually dominate on his own. He knows that in most games his role is to be effective, and not make mistakes. But when he is needed to make the big play he definitely can.
-- Mark Roberts , The Netherlands (4:41 p.m.)
I think its stupid Tom Brady by far is the No. 1. If you dont lose how can you not be No. 1.
-- Matt , Bridgewater, Conn. (4:45 p.m.)
I'd have to say that Tom Brady (even though I am a die hard Steeler's fan) has to be the most dominate player that can shift the face of a game in one play. We've all seen him playing on all cylinders and when he is on top there is not anyone better, not a Manning or anyone else that can come close to his playoff performances in the last 15 years.
-- Jason , Toronto (4:47 p.m.)
Richard Seymour. He dominates needing so many bodies to contain him, that the LB's make plays
-- Paul , Kalispell (4:52 p.m.)
I don't know if coaches count, but couldn't you say Belichick? Dude knows how to beat anyone in the playoffs w/any smorgasborg offering of players. Sometimes the game-plan is more important than the players implementing it.
-- Nick , St. Paul, Minn. (4:52 p.m.)
Can't go with you, Andrew, on Steve Smith. I would opt for Alexander. While "A the Great" must share credit, as you note, so must Smith (with Delhomme and, arguably O-line who protect him). Alexander is likely to touch the ball three or four times times as often as Smith and gets the nod here.
-- Michael Wyndham , Louisville, KY (4:56 p.m.)
Tim from NH: I think in some ways you are wrong about saying Brady is the only one who belongs because he is the only proven one. Prior to Vinces performance against USC how many Championships had he won? Andrew's question isn't who has done it before, it is who has the talent to do it this year. Brady certainly does and has proven it, but that does not discount the other players.
-- James , Rochester, N.Y. (4:58 p.m.)
No player in the NFL can dominate alone. Shaun Alexander needs linemen, Tom Brady needs receivers to cath the ball he is throwing, and Steve Smith needs Jake Delhomme to get him the ball. In the NFL it is more about taking advantage of situations given to you and creating those same situations when they aren't there.
-- KSoto , FWB, Fla. (5:01 p.m.)
Being a Colts fan, I have to say that Manning is a good choice, but I would like to point out that without a good running game, Manning is just average. Look at the year when Edgerrin James got hurt. Peyton was mediocre. If the Colts give the ball to Edge,
-- Daniel , Indianapolis (5:02 p.m.)
I think actually Alex Brown for the Bears might be the most game-changing ... if not dominate. Why? Look at the last time the Panthers/Bears met. It was his strip of J.D. that led to the games only touchdown. He constantly disrupts the game flow and what he lacks in terms of sacks is more than made up for by the different scheming he forces O-coordinators to go through -- constant penetration with no drop off on run defense.
-- Chris Boucher , Boston (5:04 p.m.)
If Brady's run doesn't end at Denver, it will at Indy. Peyton Manning will be the most dominant force in the 2006 playoffs, end of story.
-- John , Iowa City, Iowa (5:08 p.m.)
Have to agree with you. No player, including TO, has dominated the way Smith has this year. Everyone knows the ball's going his way but still can't stop him. If you try to stuff him at the line, he'll beat you deep. If you give him room on the line, he'll eat you alive with quick outs.
-- Wes , Chapel Hill, N.C. (5:10 p.m.)
Brian Urlacher? Are you stoned? He got ran over by Jerome Bettis at the goal line when the steelers crushed them.
-- Rich , Camarillo, Calif. (5:14 p.m.)
If your going to say it can be Steve Smith well that it can just as easily be Nathan Vasher who is almost like a magnet for the ball. He changes nearly every game by getting his hands on the ball and putting the Bears offense in a position to score. Vasher and will be a factor to the Bears making the Superbowl.
-- Ryan , Chicago (5:15 p.m.)
It's got to be Edgerrin James. Without him, the Colts aren't the same offense, especially on short 3rd down conversions. Also, James is not used to his full abilities. Image if they gave him more passes in the 2nd level defense. He'd be unstoppable.
-- Ed , Toronto (5:17 p.m.)
Urlacher. No Question. Look at the 1st meeting of panthers/bears. Smith got his yards, but got shut out where it counted -- points.
-- Jake , San Diego (5:22 p.m.)
Tom Brady deserves a lot more attention. A humble, quiet play maker who can explode in any situation. Prepare for heart attacks when playing against him.
-- Tho , Austin, Texas (5:28 p.m.)
Brian Urlacher by far and away is the most dominate player left in the playoffs. Not only can he blitz and send fear into the opposing QB, he can stop the run, cover the pass and intercept it. I guess all those years of playing both ways in college paid off.
-- Mike , Mission Viejo, Calif. (5:33 p.m.)
Great choice! Steve Smith is the best receiver after the catch in the NFL, but like you mentioned he's only going to improve in other areas of the position. Nice pick!
-- Burton , Greenville, N.C. (5:35 p.m.)
The Most dominant player in the playoffs is the proven commodity. Until someone steps up and knocks him off the pedestal, future hall of famer Tom Brady is the obvious choice. I'm not a Patriots fan, but you have to give the guy his due!
-- John , Freehold, N.J. (5:39 p.m.)
As a diehard Steelers fan, I have to enter a player from our squad and it isn't Troy Polamalu. Big Ben! His decision making this season and against Cincy shows how mature he has become. He went long, he throws on the run with the best in the league. Now, my unbiased pick goes to Peyton. No one in football reads defenses as well as he does. He'll end up as a coach when his illustrious career ends with at least one Super Bowl.
-- Bill , Raleigh, N.C. (5:39 p.m.)
When it comes to one player who can absolutely take over a game, I agree that Steve Smith is No. 1 ... but you got to think the Seahawks are real worried about Santana Moss in the open field... with 30-plus plays of over 20 yards, I think he has to be on the list.
-- Charlie Cole , Seattle (5:44 p.m.)
Being a Denver Fan, I wish I could pick a bronco but we really don't have any unstoppable players on O. I am going to have to say Shaun Alexander. I've seen Manning and Brady get frustrated and start to complain and get their heads in the wrong place. Alexander seems to get 5-7 yards even when he gets hit at the line. he looks so smooth and patient when he runs up the middle. Plus, when the defense looks like it can barely breath, Shaun is still smiling and laughing. I wish I could see what he would do in a Bronco uniform.
-- Casey Martyn , Denver (5:47 p.m.)
Outside of the two losses, you have to look at Peyton. The numbers he rolled up this season have to make you sit back and go wow. This season (outside of two games) the Colts have been unstoppable. Can they return to that performance level for the playoffs...maybe. If they do in the first game, then no one is going to stop them.
-- Matt , Stockton, Calif. (5:48 p.m.)
Everyone says Brady is the "proven" one in the playoffs, but are we all forgetting what Steve Smith did to secondaries two years ago? He lit up Dallas and Philly, won the game against St. Louis in one of the all-time classics, and even put up great numbers against the Pats vaunted D.
-- Jeff , Charlotte, N.C. (5:50 p.m.)
I've gotta go with Tom Brady, because of his uncanny ability to get the job done when the chips are down. I'll be ready to say Peyton Manning when he beats Brady in a playoff game. Just watch how Brady handles the Denver weather, and you will realize he is the best cold weather QB in the last half-century. Brady gets my nod for the most unstoppable player left in the playoffs.
-- Rod McDowell , Tallahassee, Fla. (5:58 p.m.)
Well each of these players is great in their own way. Not one stands out more than the others. I think Peyton Manning is due his moment in the SUN. Brady has been there done that, this is just like USC ... comes back for one more. They manage to get to the AFC Championship Game, but I see them falling to a Great COLTS team this year, although I believe it will be decided by seven or less. But I say Manning in the long run will be the driving force during the next few games.
-- Matt , Ramstein AB, Germany (6:10 p.m.)