ATLANTA - The Pats won their sixth Super Bowl Sunday Night. Surely, it was not the most beautiful performance and for bettors who took the over it will be a rough Monday. Many, including Pats Maven, predicted scores like 34-28 or 40-37. Instead, the Pats linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Dont'a Hightower harassed Jared Goff all night. Lawrence Guy and Trey Flowers were very good as well. On the Pats go-ahead drive, Rob Gronkowski made a big catch down the sidelines and Sony Michel, who was called a bust early in the year, sealed the victory with a two-yard touchdown run to make the score 10-3.
It is silly to say that a defensive game is an ugly game. Fans have become so used to high scoring games that a defensive struggle is not appreciated. All year, the Pats preached complimentary defense and Sunday Night they did just that. The coverage allowed the pass rush to get there. Brandin Cooks could hardly create any separation against Stephon Gilmore who had an interception late in the fourth quarter that ended any hope of a Rams comeback.
The growth of the Pats defense was fascinating to watch. It became really good in December and then excellent in January - historically good. Yes, they collapsed against Kansas City in the second half - giving up 31 points. However, Bill Belichick limited the Chiefs two best weapons (Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce) to four catches. He forced Andy Reid deep into his playbook to hit Damien Williams on screen passes in order for the Chiefs to generate any offense. Tyreek Hill had only one catch and spent more time talking with Devin McCourty then he did catching passes.
The first half was a defensive struggle. Credit Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips for putting together a strong game plan that often confused Tom Brady regarding whether he was facing man or zone coverage. On Brady's first interception, Brady thought that he had man coverage. The Rams, however, were in zone defense and the pass was picked off. The Rams also applied pressure by varying fronts.
The way, the Rams played in the first half against the run was respectable. After a strong kickoff return to open the game, the Pats clearly showed what they wanted to do - run the ball. There first play from scrimmage was a 13-yard run to Sony Michel, the next play a six-yard run to Cordarrelle Patterson. Michel then ran for 11 yards on the next two carries. Wade Philips then confused Tom Brady into throwing an interception. Brady thought the Rams were in man and they were in zone.
Bill Belichick had to be proud that in his last two games he held the two highest scoring offenses to zero points in the first half. All year, the Pats started slow on the road. The last two games were just the opposite. The Pats had a 14-0 lead against Kansas City and a 3-0 lead against the Rams. Sure, the Pats had some miscues in the first half. An interception, being forced to call two early timeouts, and a missed field goal were not ideal for a Pats team in the first half that prides themselves on playing a clean game.
The Pats moved the ball in the first half. The Rams defense simply stopped the Pats when they got inside their territory. Pats led 3-0 at halftime. After being 9-5 when they lost to Pittsburgh, the Pats closed the season with five straight victories. They used the games against the Bills and Jets to build their confidence. Then, they beat three good teams in the playoffs to win the Super Bowl.
Tom Brady now has as many Super Bowl rings as Micheal Jordan has championships - crazy for a player who was drafted 199 overall in the 2000 draft. Brady showed his toughness this season and was a great leader on a team that needed it in the early and middle parts of the season. Not afraid to yell at his teammates when they had a sloppy practice in January - his teammates responded in the playoffs by being more physical and energetic from the start then the other team.
Who would have thought that the Pats would win their sixth Super Bowl after the Detroit Lions blew them out in early September to give them a 1-2 record. Then again, the Pats had a slow start in 2014 before beating Seattle in the Super Bowl.
"It was an unbelievable year," Brady said. "We have been this far and lost, which was really tough. The (Pats) defense played their best game of the year. The Rams have a great defense. They played their butts off."
Asked what would have motivate him to return after his sixth title, Brady looked at the fans.
"All of this," Brady said.