Pick-six solidifies Woodson's case for defensive MVP

A few weeks ago, after Green Bay's last-second loss in Pittsburgh, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger met Packers cornerback Charles Woodson at midfield and told him what an honor it was to play against him.

Roethlisberger then pointed his finger at his fellow-Ohioan and said, "MVP".

If there was any doubt about Roethlisberger's prediction before last Sunday, Woodson's 45-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Cardinals probably sealed the deal.

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In 2009, Woodson had a career-high nine interceptions, returned three of them for touchdowns, posted a career high in tackles, forced four fumbles, and defended 18 passes -- on a unit that allowed the second-fewest yards in the league.

Big Ben was right. Woodson is clearly the league's defensive MVP and is well deserving of the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year award.

Our Anatomy of a Play segment features Woodson's pick-six in Arizona, which was similar to a play he made earlier in the season against the Detroit Lions.

Just as he did on his Thanksgiving Day interception return for a touchdown while covering Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson, Woodson jumped a slant route. This one was intended for Cardinals All-Pro receiver Larry Fitzgerald. In both cases, Woodson out-maneuvered a talented receiver to the ball.

On his interception in Arizona, Woodson had deep help over the top and knew he could risk playing the slant route more aggressively than he would if he was in pure man-to-man coverage.

As the ball was snapped, Woodson read the quarterback and receivers simultaneously, with what NFL Network Analyst Mike Mayock refers to as "Zone Eyes". Mayock contends that Woodson is one of the best he has ever seen at using zone eyes to break up a pass or make an interception.

Woodson didn't stare at Fitzgerald. He studied quarterback Matt Leinart and the slot receiver, who was aligned inside of Fitzgerald.

Leinart's short, three-step pass drop, and the slot receiver's inside break, told Woodson that Fitzgerald was running a slant route. Just like a batter seeing a fastball and swinging, in a split-second, Woodson stopped and drove toward the spot where a slant route would be thrown.

Woodson is no stranger to the postseason, or to winning highly-esteemed awards. In college, he won a national championship and he is still the only defensive player to ever win the Heisman Trophy.

This Sunday, Woodson is playing in his 10th NFL playoff game, and if he manages to take home the Defensive Player of the Year award, he will be attempting to join the likes of James Harrison, Derrick Brooks, Ray Lewis, Deion Sanders, Lawrence Taylor, Mike Singletary, Lester Hayes, Harvery Martin, Mel Blount, Joe Greene, and Dick Anderson -- the 11 other Defensive Players of the Years who went on to win the Super Bowl.

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