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Top 10 Super Bowl Plays of All-time Top 10 Super Bowl Plays of All-time /nfl/lists/Top-10-Super-Bowl-Best-Plays http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2011/02/06/raiders_20110206194820831_136_102.JPG
Top 10 Surprise Super Bowl Stars Top 10 Surprise Super Bowl Stars /nfl/lists/Top-10-Surprise-Super-Bowl-Stars http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2011/01/26/012611-NFL-Giants-David-Tyree-PI_20110126165618240_136_102.JPG
Schrager: Top 10 players searching for Super Bowl rings /nfl/lists/Top-10-players-searching-for-Super-Bowl-rings http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2010/05/05/050510-Gimme-A-Ring-SW-PI_20100505112551_136_102.JPG
Top 10 worst Super Bowl games Top 10 worst Super Bowl games /nfl/lists/Top_10_worst_Super_Bowl_games http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2011/01/24/012411-NFL-bills-AM-G1_20110124231547604_136_102.JPG
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NFL 5 43 Under-the-radar stars for 2011 30464503 Under the Radar stars Under+the+Radar+stars NFL

For individual acclaim, Ben Roethlisberger picked the wrong year to have what may be his best NFL season.

The toughness Roethlisberger has exhibited by playing through so many injuries — the latest being a gruesome sprained ankle suffered in last Thursday’s 14-3 win over Cleveland — is even more impressive than his sound passing numbers (64.3 percent completion rate, 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions). Roethlisberger also has Pittsburgh (10-3) vying for the AFC’s top playoff seed despite the Steelers fielding a middle-of-the-road rushing attack.

Unfortunately for Roethlisberger, he doesn’t have a prayer at winning the league’s Most Valuable Player award. That’s because three other quarterbacks — Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Drew Brees — are on the cusp of breaking NFL passing records. Tim Tebow is even generating more MVP buzz than Roethlisberger after leading Denver to victory in seven of the past eight games.

Roethlisberger, though, has company when it comes to veterans whose efforts are flying under the NFL radar. Here are 10 other players who should be lauded even though Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors may not be in the offing.

— Alex Marvez
 

Chris Morrison - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2011/12/14/121411-NFL-Under-The-Radar-GalleryIntro-JW_20111214103116516_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2011/12/14/121411-NFL-Under-The-Radar-GalleryIntro-JW_20111214103116516_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 43 Under-the-radar stars for 2011 30464491 New York Jets kick returner/running back Joe McKnight New+York+Jets+kick+returner%2Frunning+back+Joe+McKnight NFL

McKnight has come a long way since his rough turn on "Hard Knocks" in 2010. Once a bubble player to make the roster despite his 2010 fourth-round draft status, McKnight leads the NFL in kickoff returns with a 32.4-yard average. McKnight also continues to evolve as a backup running back, especially as a receiving threat coming out of the backfield.

Anthony Gruppuso - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2011/12/14/121411-NFL-Under-The-Radar-Gallery1-JW_20111214102342494_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2011/12/14/121411-NFL-Under-The-Radar-Gallery1-JW_20111214102342494_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 43 Under-the-radar stars for 2011 30464493 Arizona defensive end Darnell Dockett Arizona+defensive+end+Darnell+Dockett NFL

He should get Pro Bowl consideration, but not for the same reasons that have earned Dockett three consecutive selections. He is now being asked to play as a traditional 3-4 end tying up offensive linemen rather than one-gap responsibilities, which is how Dockett accumulated the bulk of his 31.5 sacks since 2007 (the highest total of any NFL interior defensive lineman). Dockett hasn’t complained about switching to a less dynamic role. He also is being rewarded by improved defensive play from his teammates. Arizona (6-7) has won five of its past six games.

Chris Morrison - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2011/12/14/121411-NFL-Under-The-Radar-Gallery2-JW_20111214102342496_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2011/12/14/121411-NFL-Under-The-Radar-Gallery2-JW_20111214102342496_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 43 Under-the-radar stars for 2011 30464494 Miami linebacker Karlos Dansby Miami+linebacker+Karlos+Dansby NFL

Dansby told The Miami Herald earlier this year that he was the best linebacker in football. While that’s a stretch, Dansby is finally living up to the five-year, $43 million free-agent contract he signed in 2010. Beyond his 83 tackles and two sacks, Dansby has displayed strong coverage skills for his position and must be accounted for by offenses on every snap. Dansby also has benefited from Miami’s shift to a 4-3 defense. He is now playing middle linebacker rather than weak-side over the tight end (“Mo” linebacker) in a 3-4. “I’ve still got a lot to learn, but I think I’m catching on pretty fast,” Dansby said.

Steve Mitchell - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2011/12/14/121411-NFL-Under-The-Radar-Gallery3-JW_20111214102342498_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2011/12/14/121411-NFL-Under-The-Radar-Gallery3-JW_20111214102342498_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 43 Under-the-radar stars for 2011 30464492 Seattle RB Marshawn Lynch Seattle+RB+Marshawn+Lynch NFL

Spinach is to Popeye what Skittles are to Lynch, whose in-game love of such candy is helping to draw more attention to his standout play. Lynch has rushed for 706 yards since Week 9, more than any other running back. He also has scored a touchdown in nine consecutive games. But with Seattle (6-7) having struggled so badly early in the season, Lynch’s efforts are only now starting to gain national notice outside of fantasy football.

Kirby Lee/Image of Sport - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2011/12/14/121411-NFL-Under-The-Radar-Gallery4-JW_20111214102342497_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2011/12/14/121411-NFL-Under-The-Radar-Gallery4-JW_20111214102342497_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 43 Under-the-radar stars for 2011 30464495 New York Giants LT Dave Diehl New+York+Giants+LT+Dave+Diehl NFL

Full disclosure: Diehl and I co-host a weekly show on Sirius XM NFL Radio. But objectively speaking, Diehl has served as the glue that kept New York’s injury-riddled offensive line from completely falling apart. Diehl moved from left guard — where he was playing well — to left tackle in Week 12 after the loss of Will Beatty and didn’t skip a beat.

Chris Trotman - Getty Images http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2011/12/14/121411-NFL-Under-The-Radar-Gallery5-JW_20111214102342499_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2011/12/14/121411-NFL-Under-The-Radar-Gallery5-JW_20111214102342499_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 43 Under-the-radar stars for 2011 30464496 San Francisco linebacker NaVorro Bowman San+Francisco+linebacker+NaVorro+Bowman NFL

Patrick Willis may soon have to share some of the spotlight. Replacing the departed Takeo Spikes, Bowman has blossomed in his second NFL season with 113 tackles and seven passes defensed. Bowman also is a key reason why San Francisco not only leads the NFL in run defense (70.5-yard average) but hasn’t surrendered a rushing touchdown all season. Earlier this year, St. Louis running back Steven Jackson offered high praise when saying he sometimes couldn’t tell Bowman and Willis apart in video study. “They’re actually scary,” Jackson said before his team was blanked, 26-0, in San Francisco.

Kyle Terada - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2011/12/14/121411-NFL-Under-The-Radar-Gallery6-JW_20111214102342495_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2011/12/14/121411-NFL-Under-The-Radar-Gallery6-JW_20111214102342495_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 43 Under-the-radar stars for 2011 30464498 Chicago cornerback Charles Tillman Chicago+cornerback+Charles+Tillman NFL

The player nicknamed “Peanut” has shelled opposing wide receivers throughout the season. Tillman doesn’t have gaudy interception totals (two, one of which came last Sunday off Tim Tebow in Denver). But he excels in Chicago’s cover-two system and is an outstanding tackler, on pace for a career-high 112 stops, which is a ridiculously high number for a cornerback. Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher wasn’t blowing smoke earlier this season when telling the Chicago Tribune that Tillman has “never gotten the recognition he deserves.” Tillman would get some if voted to the first Pro Bowl of his nine-year NFL career.

Ron Chenoy - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2011/12/14/121411-NFL-Under-The-Radar-Gallery7-JW_20111214102401504_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2011/12/14/121411-NFL-Under-The-Radar-Gallery7-JW_20111214102401504_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 43 Under-the-radar stars for 2011 30464497 Denver strong safety Brian Dawkins Denver+strong+safety+Brian+Dawkins NFL

Rather than spend large sums of money on free agents outside the team’s locker room, the Philadelphia Eagles should never have let Dawkins leave in the 2010 offseason. Philadelphia has yet to find a comparable replacement as both a heady safety and team leader — two roles Dawkins has embraced in Denver since signing a five-year, $17 million contract. Dawkins has become a beloved cog in a defense whose stout play has given Tim Tebow the chance to stage his improbable comebacks. “He’s our spiritual leader,” Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil said of Dawkins, who leads the team’s prayer circles after practice. “He’s also playing great at age (38). It’s mind-boggling.”

Ron Chenoy - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2011/12/14/121411-NFL-Under-The-Radar-Gallery8-JW_20111214102401502_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2011/12/14/121411-NFL-Under-The-Radar-Gallery8-JW_20111214102401502_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 43 Under-the-radar stars for 2011 30459868 San Francisco punter Andy Lee San+Francisco+punter+Andy+Lee NFL

Oakland’s Shane Lechler is a legitimate candidate to someday become the first punter elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But this season, the specialist across the Bay deserves some attention as well. Lee and Lechler both have 50.7-yard gross averages, but the former leads the league with a 43.67-yard net. Lechler holds the NFL’s single-season net record of 43.85 set in 2009. “(Lee has) been instrumental in this formula of winning games,” said 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, whose 10-3 team has already secured the NFC West title.

Geoff Burke - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2011/12/14/121411-NFL-Under-The-Radar-Gallery9-JW_20111214113640538_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2011/12/14/121411-NFL-Under-The-Radar-Gallery9-JW_20111214113640538_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 43 Under-the-radar stars for 2011 30464500 Cleveland defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin Cleveland+defensive+tackle+Ahtyba+Rubin NFL

Defensive linemen who stand 6-foot-2 and weigh 330 pounds are usually space-fillers. Not Rubin. With 63 stops this season, Rubin is on track to lead all NFL defensive tackles in the category for the second straight year. The Browns (4-9) still need defensive upgrades. But with Rubin in his fourth NFL season and two rookies (defensive tackle Phil Taylor and defensive end Jabaal Sheard) already starting, Cleveland has the makings of a dominant front four in the near future.

Eric P. Mul - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2011/12/14/121411-NFL-Under-The-Radar-Gallery10-JW_20111214102403506_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2011/12/14/121411-NFL-Under-The-Radar-Gallery10-JW_20111214102403506_107_80.JPG
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http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2011/02/06/raiders_20110206194820831_136_102.JPG Top 10 Super Bowl Plays of All-time Top 10 Super Bowl Plays of All-time Top 10 Super Bowl Plays of All-time Every Super Bowl has a defining moment. These are the coolest moments in time. Jan 24, 2014 3:04 PM ET 1 31 /nfl/lists/Top-10-Super-Bowl-Best-Plays
http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2011/01/26/012611-NFL-Giants-David-Tyree-PI_20110126165618240_136_102.JPG Top 10 Surprise Super Bowl Stars Top 10 Surprise Super Bowl Stars Top 10 Surprise Super Bowl Stars Super Bowl Sunday is not just about the stars. Here are the best flashes in the pan. Jan 24, 2014 2:58 PM ET 1 31 /nfl/lists/Top-10-Surprise-Super-Bowl-Stars
http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2010/05/05/050510-Gimme-A-Ring-SW-PI_20100505112551_136_102.JPG Schrager: Top 10 players searching for Super Bowl rings McNabb, other big-name vets know window's closing on elusive prize. Jan 2, 2014 3:43 PM ET 1 31 /nfl/lists/Top-10-players-searching-for-Super-Bowl-rings
http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2011/01/24/012411-NFL-bills-AM-G1_20110124231547604_136_102.JPG Top 10 worst Super Bowl games Top 10 worst Super Bowl games Top 10 worst Super Bowl games Top 10 worst Super Bowl games Jan 2, 2014 3:43 PM ET 1 31 /nfl/lists/Top_10_worst_Super_Bowl_games