Was it a Dream?
Welp, Bill Belichick thought it may have been, so he re-watched the Super Bowl a mere few hours after the actual game.
Yup, a week and a half later I am still on the Super Bowl. I would have normally been onto the Pro Bowl. But they started playing that the week before the Super Bowl several years back. So…forget about that I guess.
Anyway, my apologies to anyone who may actually be paying attention. Snow storms and real life kind of got in the way recently. Plus, I wanted to replay the game as well…because I definitely wanted to hear every single thing Joe Buck and Troy Aikman had to say from my own living room instead of a somewhat noisy bar. Wait…not for that reason. But to make sure I didn’t miss anything worth noting. That hasn’t been noted a thousand times already.
But guess what? There’s probably not that much that hasn’t been dissected in this game already. By everyone under the sun. So I won’t regurgitate most of the obvious stuff. We all know about the early Patriot miscues (turnovers, drops, missing wide open receivers, long gainers on defense, Tom Brady getting hit a ton, etc.), Julio Jones’ great catches (specifically his last one), Julian Edelmans’ own fantastic catch, James White’s emergence, Danny Amendola’s re-emergence, Brady’s and Belichick’s greatness, Dan Quinn’s questionable play calling down the stretch, leading into the colossal collapse by the Falcons…and all that. But I do want to point out a few nuggets that I personally thought were interesting though. Maybe people have talked about them. But if they have, they haven’t been talked about enough.
First, stop all this nonsense about this being “The Greatest Super Bowl EVER”. Just not the case. The final score was close and the game went into overtime, but that doesn’t make the game actually great. Essentially, the Atlanta Falcons dominated the first 50% of the game and the New England Patriots dominated the second 50%. That hardly makes for a great game. Helluva a comeback definitely. But that may sum it up. You could point to a handful of even recent Super Bowls and call them better overall games…including pretty much any of the previous six for the Pats under Belichick. That’s kind of why the Blowhard isn’t chirping about his 38-27 prediction being close to the 34-28 final. Because it really didn’t play out the way he thought.
Let’s move on to the game plan. I look back at some of these Super Bowls the Pats have been in and don’t see the best coaching jobs. Sorry. Belichick has this reputation where he is unbeatable after two weeks of preparation. Maybe in the regular season, especially when the opponent is not coming off a bye. Though that didn’t even work this year when they lost to a Seattle team coming off a short week and flying cross-country to Foxborough. In the Super Bowl, the other team ALSO has two weeks to prepare. I think some people lose sight of that.
Now, I didn’t advocate having Brady come out and throw 62 passes. The last thing I wanted was to get in a shootout with Atlanta. That would have been a no-win situation. So I wanted some kind of balance for sure. And some sort of ball control.
But force feeding LeGarrette Blount early? And sending him out on sweeps? Sure, Atlanta was supposed to be terrible against the run. But remember, the Falcon defense is young and fast. Blount was not going to beat them wide. Why not Lewis on those plays? And then when Blount was stuffed inside as well, how ’bout changing some stuff there as well? Oh yeah, they did eventually. But I thought it took waaaaay too long. And I know, they were actually moving the ball well and the turnovers killed them. But still…I suppose my biggest beef with this whole thing is the very first drive. It would have changed everything likely if the Pats went down and scored a touchdown, maybe even a field goal. But they sent Blount on a sweep that had no chance on 3rd and 1. That one still eats me up for some reason…
Going back to the coaching…I know, Super Bowl opponents are supposed to be the best the NFC has to offer. So of course they are going to be harder to coach against. Especially since being in the NFC means maybe the Patriots haven’t seen much of them throughout the year and have a lot to catch up on in preparations. But still…who’s idea was the Edelman cross field throw? Yikes!! And going back to the old Super Bowls, don’t give me the “Belichick KNEW not to take that timeout against Seattle late…”. Methinks he got lucky on that one.
Tom Brady is getting all kinds of accolades for his performance. As he should. But man, does he have some brain farts in these big games sometimes. That pick-six was atrocious. As was that first down play down by the goal line on the second to last play of the game. If a defensive back was covering Martellus Bennett on that play, the ball may have very well have been picked off. And then what happens? Ok, this may be nitpicking. And stuff that has been analyzed over and over. But man, these still stick in my craw as well.
Dan Quinn has certainly taken a lot of heat for not running the ball down the stretch…and deservedly so. But how about his (non) use of Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman? I know, the Falcons only had the ball for like 23 minutes. But Jones caught all of his 4 targets. It appears that Eric Rowe and a safety had coverage on Jones frequently (with Logan Ryan on Mohamed Sanu and Malcolm Butler on Taylor Gabriel). Although this may not have been the D on every play, it appeared to be mostly the case. Rowe actually had good coverage on Jones’ amazing catch late in the game. But are you telling me that Atlanta couldn’t have taken more advantage of that matchup, even with the two bodies on Jones?
And Freeman had 2 huge gains on his way to 121 yards on 13 touches. Over 9 yards a play. Take away the 2 long gainers and he still is over 4 a touch. Even if the Pats slowed him down running the ball other than his one big play, the Falcons couldn’t have taken advantage of him more in space with someone like Rob Ninkovich, Shea McClellin, Kyle Van Noy or Elandon Roberts in coverage? 13 touches is way too low, and TWO targets is insanely low. Maybe they didn’t want him out there a lot on passing downs seeing that he whiffed on Dont’a Hightower when he strip-sacked Matt Ryan. But still, seemed like a severe under utilization to me.
Did the Patriots’ defensive game plan cause Freeman and Jones to be underused? Perhaps. But either way, seemed like the Falcons could have adjusted around it. My thanks to them for not doing so however. It helps when you don’t use your best two players that much, not counting Matt Ryan of course.
What was Patrick Chung catching that punt over his shoulder with his back to the play deep in Patriot territory in the 4th quarter for? Talk about potential disaster.
Falcons were 1 of 8 on third downs. Seems hard to believe.
Atlanta was penalized 9 times to New England’s 4. But don’t complain about the refs. 3 of Atlanta’s penalties were on one drive and were legitimate defensive holding calls…and that drive ended when they brought the interception back to the house anyway. I believe they declined one or two penalties on the Patriots as well. The officials were not a factor in this game, I don’t believe anyway. Falcon fans may point to the OT pass interference call being questionable. But as tame as it may have been, those always seem to get called. I’m actually really upset that Bennett didn’t catch that ball anyway. He should have.
We will talk more about Bennett’s poor game overall, as well as the state of the offensive line and the kicker formerly known as Stephen Gostkowski some other time.
Interesting game, emotional roller coaster for both teams, exciting finish…for Patriots fans anyway. A lot more words than I expected to write here. Hope it added some kind of value. In any event, that’s a wrap!
Super Bowl: 1-0 (1-0 against the spread).
Total: 7-4 (6-5 against the spread).
Finished better than .500…phew!!
Posted on February 15, 2017, in Uncategorized and tagged Arthur Blank, Atlanta Falcons, Bill Belichick, Devonta Freeman, James White, Joe Buck, Julian Edelman, Julio Jones, LeGarrette Blount, Martellus Bennett, Matt Ryan, New England Patriots, NFL, Postseason, Robert Kraft, Roger Goodell, Super Bowl, Tom Brady, Troy Aikman. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.