The playoffs have way of changing our perceptions. Especially when it comes to end of season awards. Remember Dirk Nowitzki's awkard MVP award presentation right after the 67-win Mavericks became just the third one-seed in NBA history to get bounced in the first round?
While the NBA MVP is a regular season award, Dirk's award felt tainted after Steven Jackson and the Warriors managed to bully Nowitzki and the Mavs out of the postseason. That was the way the league's supposed most valuable player went out? Not with a bang but with a whimper -- as Matt Barnes, of all people, posterized him? Yikes.
Which is all a meandering way of asking, did you watch the wildcard games last week? Because to anyone who saw Revis shut down Ochocinco (again) while Woodson's Packers got lit up, the results of Tuesday's Defensive Player of the Year voting seem...questionable. Indeed, while Woodson did force a key fumble off of Larry Fitzgerald in the first half, perhaps his most indelible moment from that game came a bit later when Fitzgerald absolutely trucked him en route to a touchdown.
Let's ignore for a second that this was an obvious offensive pass interference on Fitzgerald's part. We're talking about perception. And in that shadowy, subjective realm, it simply doesn't look good to get plowed over, even by a receiver of Fitzgerald's caliber.
And this point was put into even starker relief by Revis' dominant performance against the Bengals. After two weeks of back and forth between Ochocinco and Revis, the Jets cornerback once again demonstrated that from a pure coverage standpoint, his skills are unparalleled. Just watch this interception again.
So where does this leave us? Was the DPOY voting a "travesty" as SB Nation's Gang Green Nation suggested? Or is this an example of simply over-reacting to a small sample size and making too much of a player's supposed "clutchness"? As usual, the truth is somewhere in-between. Woodson most certainly had an exceptional regular season, even more so considering his age. He anchored a Packers secondary that, according to Football Outsiders, was part of the fifth-best pass defense in the league this season. Overall, Green Bay had the second-best total defense in the league (again, going by Football Outsider's DVOA metric). He was a deserving winner.
Just not as deserving as Revis. As Football Outsiders tweeted:
Consider the numbers: the Jets had both the top overall defense, and the top pass defense in the NFL this season (and the latter by a very, very substantial margin). Revis faced a bevy of top receivers and without exception held them to very modest yardage totals. He's that rare example of reality actually matching the hype.
Which is to say, on the strength of his regular season, Revis should have won. In this case, the perception from last week's games was actually justified. No, this wasn't a BBWA-level mistake, but Jets fans have good reason to feel that the better cornerback did not win today.