February 3, 2015


Strong D real MVP of Super Bowl (Gregg Easterbrook, 2/03/15, ESPN)

TMQ's Law of Comebacks holds: Defense starts comebacks, offense stops them. This diktat was on display in the Patriots' Super Bowl comeback.

Not only did New England's defense seal the deal by stopping Seattle at the goal line with 20 seconds remaining, but it also started the comeback. From the point at which Seattle took a two-score lead late in the third quarter, its possession results were: punt, punt, punt, interception. Two of the final four Seattle possession were three-and-outs.

From the juncture of that Seattle two-score lead, for the remainder of the contest New England's defense allowed just four first downs. Just four first downs against the league's No. 1 rushing attack, a team that excels at moving the chains. Defense starts comebacks, offense stops them. Had the defending champions done anything that all on the three punt possessions before their final last-minute charge, the Patriots' comeback would have been deflated. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

Not only did New England's defense win the Super Bowl but it also got the Patriots to the Super Bowl. New England had to stage a divisional-round comeback versus Baltimore. Patriots down 28-14 early in the second half, the defense allowed just three points for the reminder of that contest. At the championship round, New England won easily: but the 45 points scored were less important than the mere seven points allowed to Indianapolis, a high-scoring team.

In fact the most important stat of the 2014 NFL season may be this one, regarding New England's defense: The Patriots did not allow a fourth-quarter touchdown in their final nine games. Teams that don't let opponents score in the fourth quarter are teams that win trophies.

Posted by at February 3, 2015 5:21 PM

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