Lamar Woodley is That Guy

Lamar Woodley’s strip-sack of Kurt Warner sealed the victory in Super Bowl XLIII for the Steelers. It also cemented Woodley’s status as That Guy this year. In addition to late-game heroics, Woodley had another sack, two quarterback hurries, one pass defensed and four tackles. But it was that final pass rush of the season gave him the nod.

In a fourth quarter where Kurt Warner caught fire and Larry Fitzgerald caught everything, no one wearing black and gold wanted to take the chance on a last second Hail Mary lofted toward Arizona’s sure-handed superstar. Woodley made sure that the Cardinals would not get the chance to see if a final Warner Hail Mary would be an answered prayer. Instead, he took matters into his own hands, and did what the Steelers failed to do for most of the fourth quarter—pressure Warner.

Woodley, in his second-year out of Michigan, spent most of the season in the shadows of fellow linebackers Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison and veteran tackle machine James Farrior. He racked up 11.5 sacks on the season, but none was bigger than the one on Warner last night.

Woodley is the third linebacker to receive my That Guy award, joining Mike Jones of the Rams and Mike Vraebel of the Patriots. My pre-game pick for the award, Steve Breaston, was a college teammate of Woodley. The Cardinals wideout/returner didn’t disappoint, amassing 144 all-purpose yards, including a 34-yard punt return.

In the end, however, it was Woodley—not Breaston—that emerged victorious. Playing linebacker for the Steelers, he won’t be just That Guy very long. But for his role in the Steelers record sixth Super Bowl title, he earned the title of That Guy for stepping out of the shadows on the biggest stage in football.

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