Three former Ducks and Beavers will suit up for Super Bowl XLVI this Sunday. Oregon colleges haven’t produced this many players in a Super Bowl in 13 years, since the Denver Broncos beat the Atlanta Falcons. In that game, the Broncos had a pair of Ducks – RB Derek Loville and DT Ernest Jones – on the roster. The Falcons suited up former Duck QB Tony Graziani and WR Ronnie Harris, along with former Beaver DT Esera Tuaolo.
Sure, last year there were three on the rosters, but Nick Barnett was hurt and Dennis Dixon never got into the game. This year’s trio has a chance to affect the game. So which of the three — Patrick Chung, Chad Ochocinco or Spencer Paysinger — will have the greatest effect on the outcome?
The safe bet is New England safety Patrick Chung.
Here’s a breakdown of what each of the three needs to do to come up big on Super Sunday.
Chung missed half off the regular season with an injury. Having him at full strength should help the Patriots’ pass defense, which was second worst in the league during the regular season. But even when Chung was in the lineup, he did not do much to stop the pass. He had one interception and just four passes defended in eight regular season games. In the postseason? Zero. He’s more effective as a tackler. It won’t be a good sign if Chung – a safety – is among New England’s leading tacklers this week. However Chung can still come up huge against New York. Because Eli Manning and the Giants will likely throw the ball a lot, there will be many chances for Chung to make a game-changing play or two. An interception or a deflection that leads to a pick could swing the momentum in New England’s favor. If the Pats are able to force turnovers and keep their offense on the field, they’ll be in good shape.
Ochocinco didn’t have the rebirth I expected him to have in New England. Entering the season, I predicted Tom Brady would help Ochocinco revitalize his career much the same way he did for Randy Moss. That didn’t happen. Instead Ochocinco has caught just 15 balls for 276 yards and one touchdown this season. He was inactive last week, but that was not because of an injury or his dismal production. It was because of his father’s funeral. He should return to action for the Super Bowl. After all, Chad loves the spotlight and it doesn’t shine brighter than during Super Bowl week. If he is able to return to form — even if just for one play — expect to see something outrageous should he get into the end zone.
Paysinger’s best bet to make his mark on the game will come on special teams. The former Duck linebacker has been relatively quiet this season, buried on the depth chart as the third-string weakside linebacker. Much like Chung, he will need to help create turnovers to really be a factor. A big hit on Julian Edleman or any other Patriot return men will get his name called during the big game.