Best and Worst: New England Patriots vs. Los Angeles Rams
ATLANTA -- The best and worst from the New England Patriots' 13-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams for their NFL-record-tying sixth Super Bowl championship.
Cordarrelle Patterson jetted for 38 yards to open the game after the Rams deferred the kickoff.
Tom Brady’s first pass of the game was a cross field throw to Chris Hogan that came out wobbly was tipped and picked off. That came after the Patriots had made outstanding progress on the ground.
JULES . . .
Julian Edelman tried to pirouette and make a play with the first punt of the game off the foot of Johnny Hekker. He lost 5 yards.
On the Patriots second drive, Sony Michel got walloped by an incoming Ndamukong Suh and defensive end Dante Fowler. It’s the danger of dealing with a penetrating defense.
THEM’S THE RULES
Rex Burkhead caught a little checkdown and was hit immediately by Rams corner Nickell Robey-Coleman who grabbed Burkhead around the head and neck. A hit to the head or neck of a defenseless receiver? That’s a penalty. Even though the planet seemed outraged/confused.
LET’S TALK IT OVER . . . TWICE
On the Patriots' second drive they used a pair of timeouts, which seemed puzzling. It was also puzzling to see them come out of the second time out with a third-and-8 dive to Sony Michel.
GOOD AS NEW
On his first two catches, Rob Gronkowski looked spry and fast with gains of 19 and 14 yards.
UNTIL . . .
A third-down catch in the second quarter on which Gronk was hit hard in the legs left him limping en route to the sidelines.
IT HAPPENS EVERY WINTER
Stephen Gostkowski ended the Patriots second drive with a missed field goal from 46 yards. He has a tendency to – at some point every postseason – miss a kick.
NIGHT TRAIN WISE
Deatrich Wise busted through and delivered a clothesline tackle to C.J. Anderson in the second quarter. The pain was for naught as well because the Rams were flagged for a false start.
BRINGING THE PAIN
Aaron Donald flung Tom Brady to the ground after he released the ball, Aqib Talib tossed Julian Edelman out of bounds and Ndamukong Suh seemed primed to decapitate a man as the Rams clearly were bent on being the nastier team.
GAMBLED AND LOST
The Patriots faced a fourth-and-1 at the Rams 32 with 1:16 left in the half. With Stephen Gostkowski having missed a field goal earlier and the Patriots perhaps chasing points they frittered away earlier, they went for it and Brady wound up attempting to fit it in to a well-covered Gronk. Incomplete.
HIGH TIME FOR A PICK
Dont'a Hightower had a pick clang off his hands on the first play of the second half that would have – if caught – put the Patriots in prime position to stick the knife in a little deeper,
INTO THE TEETH OF IT
Rex Burkhead got wrapped up by Michael Brockers during a third-quarter run and when the collision occurred Burkhead’s mouthguard went flying.
Julian Edelman, who had seven catches for 93 yards by halftime, had his longest reception of the day when he took a pass from Brady on third-and-4, stepped through a tackle and gained 27.
Patrick Chung, who was having an excellent game, broke his arm when he got it jammed between Todd Gurley and teammate Jonathan Jones. He left with his right arm in an aircast.
The Patriots were in zone defense as the Rams put together their first potent drive of the game and somehow everybody went with Robert Woods and nobody went with Brandin Cooks. Jason McCourty, stationed at the sideline had to get to the goal post to break the pass up as it reached Cooks.
In Super Bowl 46, there were fumbles out that didn’t get scooped by New England. The same thing happened early in the fourth quarter when Stephon Gilmore punched the ball away from C.J. Anderson and laid on the ground before rolling out of bounds.
Patriots punter Ryan Allen – who somebody called a very good big game punter in his preview – put three of his first five punts inside the 20 yard line.
GOING OUT WITH A BANG
If this is indeed Rob Gronkowski's last game, his final memory will be a golden one: A beautiful 29-yard reception on a pass from Brady that moved the ball to the Los Angeles 2 with 7:42 to play in a 3-3 game. Sony Michel burst into the end zone on the next play for the touchdown that proved to be the game-winner and gave New England its record-tying sixth Super Bowl championship.
And on the next possession, it was an ex-Buffalo Bill who put it in the bag. Stephon Gilmore picked off a woefully underthrown ball by Jared Goff with 4:24 left, killing the Rams' final chance.