New England Patriots Win The Madden Most Valuable Protectors Award

DALLAS TX - FEBRUARY 03: New England Patriots offensive linemen Dan Koppen #67 (L) Dan Connolly #63 (2ndL) and Mark LeVoir #64 (R) pose with the the Madden Most Valuable Protectors Award for being this year's best offensive line as determined by John Madden (2ndR) and fan voting at the Super Bowl XLV media center on February 3 2011 in Dallas Texas. The Green Bay Packers will play the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV on February 6 2011 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington Texas. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

With New York in the same division as the New England Patriots, the consensus firmly selected the Jets as the AFC East Champions before the start of the season. It made sense. The Jets brought more high-profile players onto their roster while the Patriots continued building their squad through the NFL Draft using extra picks accumulated after trading away their veterans. Yet, the season turned into Tom Brady winning the AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year while the Patriots finished the season with a league-high 14 wins. As a result, the Patriots scored a league-high 518 points -- 77 points more than the second-highest scoring team in the NFL (San Diego Chargers).

But it was more than just Brady. A quick review.

Last year John Madden established the Madden Most Valuable Protectors Award with Prilosec OTC as a sponsor, which recognized the league's best offensive line. An MVP of offensive lines, if you will, since voters of the major voting organizations care little for the most important aspect in football.

“The offensive line doesn’t always catch the fans’ attention, so Prilosec OTC and I created this award to recognize the guys who provide the critical run blocking and pass protection,” said John Madden.  “All season long, these guys proved they had the mental and physical toughness that enabled the Patriots offense to put up impressive numbers on the ground and in the air.”

The winner receives a 102-pound trophy with a silver nitrate patina finish that's over 16 inches tall that also travels to the city of each year's winner. Last year the New Orleans Saints won the award and held onto the trophy until Thursday, when they'll have to relinquish it to the winner.

This year's nominations included the reigning winners, the New Orleans Saints, the Atlanta Falcons, the Kansas City Chiefs and the New York Giants.

On Thursday, the award was given to the New England Patriots offensive line. It's not coincidence that the New England Patriots won 14 games this year and Tom Brady was awarded the offensive player of the year award.

The lesson learned here is that if the Cincinnati Bengals can't improve their talent level on the offensive line, it won't matter who the offensive coordinator is or who the quarterback is.

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