“It still hasn’t totally sunk in yet.”
It’s been a little more than a week since Patriots running back James White powered into the end zone, then made a mad dash toward the goalpost while cannons shot off red, white and blue confetti, all done in the shape of the Lombardi Trophy. White didn’t win the MVP, but his record-setting performance, one that included 14 receptions and 20 points, is still drawing rave reviews.
“I’m not surprised,” Dion Lewis told me. “He’s a playmaker. That’s what he does.”
“I’d say it was unreal but that wouldn’t be giving James enough credit,” said LeGarrette Blount. “He’s made plays for us every single week.”
When Lewis injured his hamstring in the fourth quarter, it helped pave the way for White to get the overtime winner. That TD run would gone to Lewis under normal circumstances, but a popped hamstring meant more White. Safe to say, the Pats benefitted.
“Surreal. Just surreal,” said White, looking back on his career night. “I was just doing whatever it took to get a victory. Had to leave it all out there.”
Said special teams captain Matthew Slater in the immediate aftermath of the win: “James is a professional. He’s put in so much work to become the player that he is.We trust him. Tom obviously trusts him.”
That Tom is Tom Brady, of course, and on Peter King’s MMQB podcast, King pointed out to the Pats QB that he targeted White 16 times in the Super Bowl, a year after throwing the same amount of passes to the running back in the AFC Championship game at Denver.
“It’s because of him,” gushed Brady. “I said this to someone earlier in the season, he’s like my oldest son. He never does anything wrong, so it’s hard to get mad at him. And even if he does something wrong, he didn’t really mean it and he feels worse about it than you do. That’s how James is. He never does anything anything wrong.”
Brady continued, “If it’s blitz pickup, it’s blitz pickup. If it’s run the route and catch the ball, that’s what he does. Make a tough decision, he makes it. He’s just been such a dependable, consistent player, so much in the mold of Kevin Faulk, Danny Woodhead, Shane Vereen, just guys I’ve been in the backfield with who can just do it all. And James has been phenomenal in what he’s been asked to do, from the time he took over for Dion Lewis when he got hurt [against] Washington last year, to this year. He’s just made every play he’s been asked to make.”
When those comments were relayed to him, White chuckled and said, “Tom is the best of all-time so I’ll take it,” before adding, “but there’s still room to get better.” More laughs, but knowing how hard White has worked to get here, he’s not joking.