Malcolm Smith is a linebacker and a seventh-round draft pick, which is to say he was one of the most unlikeliest of candidates to be named the Super Bowl MVP.
Yet there was Smith facing a tent full of reporters after the Seattle Seahawks' 43-8 dismantling of the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII, talking about how he was receiving the trophy only as a representative of the entire Seahawks defense because voters hadn't been able to award it to the entire unit.
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"Tonight it was my turn," he said, "but I share it with everyone. We all stuck together as a group all year and we stuck together tonight."
Smith, who also was a hero in the Seahawks' NFC Championship Game win over the 49ers two weeks ago when he came up with a game-clinching interception, was in on several huge plays Sunday night.
He intercepted a second-quarter pass from Peyton Manning and returned it 69 yards for a touchdown. He recovered a fumble by Demaryius Thomas. All told, Seattle forced four turnovers by Denver.
Smith told Fox's Michael Strahan that there was "no way" he expected to win the MVP award.
"I woke up bouncing and jumping and it just turned out great for us," Smith said.
The first sign it was going to turn out great was Smith's pick-6, which made the score 22-0.
"He was just kind of working the other side of the field with his eyes," Smith said of Manning. "He came back and he was checking the ball down quick. Somebody [Cliff Avril] got a hold of his arm and the ball came out real high and I was fortunate to pick it, man.
"I couldn't believe it when I saw it coming toward me. I was like, this can't be happening again. It was just a great feeling."
Smith joined Ray Lewis of Baltimore in 2001 and Chuck Howley of Dallas in 1971 as the only linebackers to be named the MVP of a Super Bowl. Only eight of 48 Super Bowls have ended with a defensive player getting the honor. The last time was 2003, when Tampa Bay Buccaneers free safety Dexter Jackson won it.
Richard Sherman, the outspoken cornerback who was the face of the Seahawks' defense all week, said it's only fitting that Smith was named the MVP. He said the seventh-round pick represents the kind of defense the team plays.
"We're a bunch of misfits on the defense," said Sherman, who sprained his right ankle late in the game and finished the game on the sideline. "We have undrafted guys, guys who not a lot of people have heard of. I think they heard how good our team was tonight. It's not just [the defensive backfield]. It's everybody."