February 7, 2017


The Patriots And Falcons Became Who We Thought They Were (Kyle Wagner, Feb. 6th, 2017, 538)

On the Patriots' side, Belichick and his apostles are up for beatification. Tom Brady led five consecutive scoring drives to stage the largest comeback in Super Bowl history, setting records for pass attempts, completions and yardage in the championship game. Julian Edelman made the cleat catch. And the Patriots defense clamped down to hold the Falcons scoreless in their final four drives. The turnaround was so dramatic that it practically unwound the ESPN win-probability model in real time. These are seemingly acts of a higher power.

Except Brady, of course, hadn't been perfect all game. Before the Patriots offense clicked into action late in the third, Brady missed Julian Edelman badly on a few throws and was making uncharacteristic errors. Partly this was due to the Falcons pass rush getting to him using just four rushers. In the second half, New England's massive time-of-possession advantage began to show as the Falcons' pass rush faded. ("I think for sure we ran out of gas some," said Falcons coach Dan Quinn. "I don't know what the time of possession was, I didn't look at that. But I can tell you how hard these guys battled for it.")

The thing that pressure does to Brady is not just make him inaccurate, but one-dimensional.  He starts only looking for only one receiver : Gronk when healthy; Edelman when not. Take away his throws to Edelman on Sunday night and his numbers are filthy. 

Posted by at February 7, 2017 7:37 AM