ATLANTA -- Here are some quick-hitting takeaways from Patriots-Rams in Super Bowl LIII . . .
Tom Brady was constantly going over plays with Josh McDaniels in between drives. Hard to know exactly what they were saying when they met in the first half on Sunday, but if it had to do with getting the ball to Julian Edelman more frequently, that'd make sense. Brady's favorite wideout caught seven passes for 93 yards on eight targets through 30 minutes, consistently creating separation regardless of the coverage calls coming from Wade Phillips. Phillips did well to mix man and zone through two quarters, but either way, the one receiver who was constantly running free was Edelman. Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters, Nickell Robey-Coleman all had issues keeping up with him. No surprise Brady went to Edelman twice for big gains on the first drive of the second half.
HARD TIME CREATING SPACE OUT OF "21"
One of the matchups we thought would work out well for the Patriots would be their 21-personnel groupings against a Rams defense that has struggled against that package all season. The Patriots began the game just as they'd hoped out of "21," running for 13 yards with Sony Michel and then five yards on the first two running-back carries of the game. But on their second drive, the run game stalled. Michel for one. Michel for a loss of four. Rex Burkhead for five, but only after he created yardage on his own. Burkhead for two. White for three. The Rams front got up the field very quickly early in the game, Ndamukong Suh in particular, and perhaps the Patriots saw something in the break they believed they could take advantage of in the second half -- either with "wham" runs or screens that exploit defensive aggressiveness.
Much was made this week of Jared Goff's ability to hear from coach Sean McVay in his ear as he surveyed defenses early in the play clock this year. They tried to do the same in the Super Bowl, but the Patriots had an answer for it. When Goff called out an adjustment to his teammates based on the look, the Patriots would then adjust themselves. Whatever McVay had seen had changed. And the coach-to-communication was turned off. It was on Goff to figure things out, and he couldn't. He completed five passes in the first half on 12 attempts for 52 yards, and he was sacked twice. Things didn't get much easier for him early in the second half as he started 0-for-3 (two passes broken up) on his first two drives of the third. For Brian Flores, not a bad way to go out. He helped his defense allow a total of seven first-half points in three postseason games.
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