10 dark-horse Super Bowl MVP candidates who aren’t Patrick Mahomes, Brock Purdy

San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs
San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs / David Eulitt/GettyImages
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5. Isiah Pacheco, RB, Chiefs

Professional football was a different game during the early days of the Super Bowl Era. It was dominated by ground attacks, although things started to change a little in the late 1970s with the rules changes that helped open up the passing games.

In those early years, it was not unusual to see a running back capture Super Bowl MVP honors. It actually happened three times in a 10-year span. Three Pro Football Hall of Famers, Larry Csonka (VIII), Franco Harris (IX), and John Riggins (XVII), were the Super Bowl’s Most Valuable Players for the Dolphins, Steelers, and Washington, respectively, in those games.

All told, a running back has been named Super Bowl MVP seven times. However, it hasn’t happened in 26 years. Denver’s Terrell Davis came up with a magnificent performance in the upset of the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXII. The wild card Broncos were big underdogs and came away with a 31-24 win that ended the NFC’s 13-game winning streak on Super Sunday.

Speaking of longshots, the Chiefs used a seventh-round draft choice in 2022 on Rutgers University’s Isiah Pacheco. He’s been the team’s most consistent performer at his position the past two seasons. He could take advantage of a Niners’ rushing defense that gave up 136 and 182 yards, respectively, in the playoff wins over the Packers and Lions.