Julian Edelman’s sensational performance Sunday in the New England Patriots’ Super Bowl LIII win over the Los Angeles Rams earned him MVP honors.

It wasn’t enough to convince Stephen A. Smith the Patriots wide receiver deserved the award, though.

Smith explained Monday on ESPN’s “First Take” that someone from New England’s defense — probably linebacker Dont’a Hightower, in his opinion — deserved to be named MVP after the Patriots completely shut down the Rams’ explosive offense en route to a 13-3 victory at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Edelman was spectacular, catching 10 passes for 141 yards despite Tom Brady being off his game. The story of the game, however, was New England’s defensive dominance against a Los Angeles team that ranked second in the NFL in points per game (32.9) and yards per game (421.1) during the regular season.

As Smith noted, Hightower was a viable MVP candidate, as he totaled two sacks and played an integral role in flustering Rams quarterback Jared Goff. Stephon Gilmore would have been a solid choice, too, given his excellent coverage skills and game-sealing interception.

Ultimately, it really doesn’t matter. The Patriots secured another Lombardi Trophy as a team, and it’s hard to imagine anyone in New England’s locker room bickering over individual accolades. Smith isn’t alone in his assessment, though. Several other talking heads, including FS1’s Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe, also believe someone other than Edelman should’ve received the MVP award.

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