BALTIMORE — As Tennessee Titans safety Kevin Byard skipped into a victorious locker room Saturday evening, he exclaimed, “Mountainous Truss.”

Sooner than working support Derrick Henry, who ran roughshod over the cease-seeded Baltimore Ravens for 195 yards in Tennessee’s 28-12 stunner, spoke with journalists after the game, Titans receiver Tajae Sharpe first stepped to the rostrum to present the Official Bowler this introduction: “How y’all doing? Sooner than we launch, I lovely are trying to introduce to y’all, we obtained the NFL dashing dashing leader. If anybody obtained a direct with that, you come gape me. We ’bout that. Mountainous Truss. Woo woo. King Henry, in the flesh. Woo woo.”

These were lighthearted digs at the Ravens and, in Sharpe’s case, one aimed at Baltimore working support Label Ingram, who made himself presumptive MVP Lamar Jackson’s hype man with a the same postgame remarks after a defeat of the Texans in November while additionally slapping the amorphous “Mountainous Truss” effect on Jackson and a Ravens crew that completed 14-2.

Now? A compelling debate has resurfaced: Given what Henry’s completed in recent video games, must serene Jackson serene be the league’s 2019 MVP?

Over the closing three weeks, Henry had a 211-yard performance in Week 17 that earned him that dashing title and punched Tennessee’s playoff impress, ran for 182 yards and generated 75% of the Titans offense in a wild-card upset of the reigning champion Patriots and then taken aback Baltimore. In that identical stretch, Jackson played once, lording over the Ravens’ second straight one-and-completed postseason with an empty-calorie evening (365 yards passing, 143 yards dashing) in a recreation that was by no draw in fact in doubt.

Henry is taking part in as much as his 6-3, 247-pound dimension when it issues most. Jackson … simply didn’t.

Heed, MVP balloting — the Connected Press has a 50-particular person vote casting panel, and I’m honored to be one — concluded between Week 17 and the wild-card spherical. Jackson appeared savor a somewhat positive-decrease different at the time after main the league in TD passes (36), surroundings a fresh single-season chronicle for dashing yards by a quarterback (1,206) and main the Ravens to the league’s most efficient chronicle, among assorted accomplishments. He was named all-pro after getting 47 of the 50 votes at quarterback — which almost absolutely foreshadows him because the MVP winner, despite the indisputable reality that that is no longer going to be published till the evening forward of Mammoth Bowl LIV.

However must serene the hardware handiest be reflective of identical old-season success? 

It be a debate that spans all sports actions. Many Heisman Trophy voters have suggested that award desires to be voted on after the national championship recreation — some even admitting they would maybe have voted for Clemson’s Deshaun Watson in 2016 as an different of Jackson had that been the case. There would possibly maybe be a the same sentiment as it pertains to Texas’ Vince Young in 2005.

Barry Bonds was Main League Baseball’s MVP seven cases but every so steadily his crew’s mature link in postseason. Does that cross the frequent sense take a look at? Conversely, Michael Jordan potentially would maybe well have and must serene have been the NBA’s perennial MVP, but by some potential handiest obtained tabbed five cases.

Saturday evening, Henry was essentially the most pivotal player on the discipline, turning into the major ever lumber for a minimal of 180 yards in three consecutive video games — matching Jackson with one landing cross — and demoralizing the Ravens defense savor he has so many others. No assorted player in the NFL’s 100 seasons has dash for a minimal of 175 yards twice in the equivalent postseason. And now Henry is one more huge performance a ways from reaching the Mammoth Bowl and lovely about a more weeks a ways from a massive free company payday. Meanwhile, for all he managed throughout the celebrated season, Jackson can be hearing folks interrogate for the next 365 days whether or no longer he must purchase the huge one. 

To be positive, Jackson can be a deserving winner given the fresh parameters. Doubtless that would even be the case if the vote casting closed following the Mammoth Bowl. Patrick Mahomes potentially serene would have prevailed closing 365 days although the Chiefs didn’t buy it all — despite the indisputable reality that unlike Jackson, Mahomes wasn’t one-and-completed in the playoffs.

I wager the narrate comes support to the “V” in “MVP” and what exactly qualifies as precious. A recreation savor Saturday’s makes you surprise. By somewhat powerful any measure, Jackson was this season’s most mighty player. However where’s the loyal effect? The Ravens would maybe well most likely no longer be holding that sterling silver trophy, nonetheless the Titans serene would maybe well most likely — every so really due to their towering support. And while we’re in the center of this semantics debate, chunk on this nugget: no MVP has won the Mammoth Bowl since Kurt Warner … system support in 1999.

“It be an on a typical basis-season award, nonetheless it desires to be after the playoffs,” Titans working support Dion Lewis urged USA TODAY Sports actions after the game.

“It be no longer at my pay grade, nonetheless you potentially have a look at sports actions — some folks flip their level of play up in the playoffs. A huge selection of fellows have huge celebrated seasons, nonetheless they construct no longer cease up with a championship. So I feel the whole season desires to be regarded as — for the explanation that the playoffs are fragment of the season, too. If it was that system, I feel every person knows who’d be getting that part.”

And it leaves me questioning, although we’re asking the coolest interrogate about who’s most beneficial, are we asking it at the absolute best time?


Apply USA TODAY Sports actions’ Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis


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