Patriots

Proof that Patriots delivered best defensive performance in Super Bowl history

Proof that Patriots delivered best defensive performance in Super Bowl history

If you thought Tom Brady's incredible success was hard to fathom -- six game-winning drives in the Super Bowl -- try wrapping your head around this: A New England Patriots unit that allowed 30 or more points on six occasions this season just delivered the greatest defensive performance in Super Bowl history.

Recency often breeds hyperbole, but in this case, the evidence is clear.

For starters, the three points the Los Angeles Rams scored in Super Bowl LIII were tied for the fewest in Super Bowl history with the 1971 Miami Dolphins, who lost 24-3 to the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl VI.

But that Dolphins offense wasn't exactly prolific, averaging just 22.5 points per game during the regular season. The 2018 Rams? They boasted the highest-scoring offense in the NFC at 32.9 points per game -- meaning the Patriots held them to 29.9 points below their scoring average.

You'll notice the Seattle Seahawks also held Peyton Manning's Denver Broncos to 29.9 points below their scoring average in Super Bowl XLVIII. But the Broncos' eight points still represented 21.1 percent of their 37.9 points-per-game average. The Rams mustered exactly 9.1 percent of their usual scoring output, the lowest in Super Bowl history, per ESPN.com.

And if you need a bit more convincing, consider these mind-boggling stats:

In fact, that was the first time the Rams had punted on their first eight possessions in any game since 2008.

The story of how Bill Belichick, Brian Flores and the Patriots' defense flummoxed the high-flying Rams is fascinating, as documented by the MMQB.com's Albert Breer on Monday morning:

The idea on defense, through what Flores and Belichick planned, was to force Jared Goff to think on the fly. It’s well-documented that McVay uses to the coach-to-quarterback communication to adjust calls based on what the defense is showing, up to the point where that communication cuts off, with 15 seconds left on the play clock.

The Patriots wanted to negate that creative advantage, so they essentially sent in two calls on every play. One was what they’d show before the snap. The other was what they’d switch into post-snap. And if you want to see how it worked, go back and watch how Goff held the ball, and doubted what he was looking at, over and over and over.

The result of that gamesmanship was the Rams totaling just 260 yards of offense -- a full 161 yards fewer than the 421 yards per game they averaged during the regular season -- and the 2018 Patriots securing a unique position in Super Bowl lore.

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NFL rumors: Rob Gronkowski told teammates after Super Bowl LIII he wanted another ring

NFL rumors: Rob Gronkowski told teammates after Super Bowl LIII he wanted another ring

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski still hasn't announced if he will retire or return for a 10th NFL season, but could he be leaning toward coming back?

Gronkowski's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said Tuesday on ESPN show "NFL Live" that the Patriots star's decision on his future could come within the next few weeks. NFL Media's Mike Giardi provided another tidbit of information on Gronkowski's future with a tweet Tuesday.

It's certainly possible the emotions of winning another Super Bowl led to Gronkowski making these comments to teammates. If true, who could blame him?

Gronk endured a difficult 2018 campaign, one that included a dip in performance, inconsistency and three missed games due to injuries. The 29-year-old star did play better in the playoffs, however, and he made one of the most important plays of New England's Super Bowl LIII victory against the Los Angeles Rams.

If the Patriots want Gronkowski back, it would make sense for him to return for another season if he feels he can withstand the physical toll of 16-plus games (including the playoffs). The Patriots, barring major injuries to key players, figure to be among the top contenders for the Super Bowl again next season. A healthy Gronk would give New England a strong chance to become the first team since the Buffalo Bills in the 1990s to reach the Super Bowl four years in a row.

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NFL mock draft 2019 roundup: Experts see Patriots addressing offense in first round

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NFL mock draft 2019 roundup: Experts see Patriots addressing offense in first round

The New England Patriots are Super Bowl champions for a sixth time in franchise history, but they still have plenty of question marks up-and-down their roster entering the 2019 NFL Draft.

One of the largest uncertainties is the future of tight end Rob Gronkowski, whose agent said Tuesday the Patriots star could make a decision on retirement in the next couple of weeks. Another position of need is wide receiver. Juilian Edelman just became the first wideout in 10 years to win Super Bowl MVP, but the Patriots still need more talent and depth at the position. A vertical deep threat who can excel outside the numbers would be a solid addition for quarterback Tom Brady. Josh Gordon could be that guy, but his status for the 2019 season is up in the air.

Speaking of Brady, is this the draft where New England looks to select the 41-year-old quarterback's eventual replacement? The Patriots have several picks in the first three rounds, so it wouldn't be a shock if they took a chance on one of the top QB prospects. 

Here's a roundup of recent expert NFL mock drafts:

NBC Sports Boston's Phil Perry: T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa
ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr.: Daniel Jones, QB, Duke
NFL.com's Charley Casserly: Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
CBS Sports' Ryan Wilson: Riley Ridley, WR, Georgia
Walter Football: D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
The Draft Network: N'Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
NFL.com's Maurice Jones-Drew: T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa
CBS Sports' Pete Prisco: D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss

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