That Super Bowl comeback for New England the other night continues to amaze the deeper you dig into the details.
Here are five overlooked nuggets from the Patriots’ 34-28 overtime win over Atlanta, one for each of Tom Brady’s Super Bowl rings.
- The Patriots’ offense just kept coming, of course, no matter the score, and that had a cumulative effect on the exhausted Falcons at the end. Did you know, however, that New England ran 93 total plays, a Super Bowl record?
Joe Montana and the 49ers only ran 77 plays in their 55-10 Super Bowl blowout of Denver in 1990. Likewise, the Chicago Bears snapped the ball just 76 times in their 46-10 rout of New England in 1986.
Judging by those numbers, Sunday night should have been a blowout, too.
- But wait, there’s more from the category of total offensive plays.
Atlanta only snapped the ball 46 times. To give you an idea of how much time that is for an offense to sit idling on the sidelines, Miami lost a Super Bowl 24-3 to Dallas in which the Dolphins ran 44 plays and were never in the game at all.
During the 2016 regular season the Dolphins ran 41 plays against Tennessee and lost 30-17. Also, they got routed 22-7 by Cincinnati while running 43 offensive plays.
Just one more reason to marvel that the Patriots and Falcons ever wound up in overtime in the first place.
- Atlanta’s league-leading offense was on a major roll headed into the game, with an average of 38.8 points scored over a winning streak that had reached six games.
On Sunday the Patriots limited the Falcons’ offense to 21 points. One of Atlanta’s four touchdowns came on an interception return.
- Brady’s quarterback rating was only 95.2 with that pick-6 included. That was his sixth-worst number for the season, playoffs included.
Guessing you’d still probably have him quarterbacking your team more than, say, Matt Ryan, who had an extremely efficient quarterback rating of 144.1 on Sunday night and a postseason average of 135.3.
Analytics like this are useful, but Super Bowl history isn’t written in strings of computer code.
- New England running back James White, a product of Fort Lauderdale’s St. Thomas Aquinas High School, had 11 career postseason catches going into that game. The last time New England was in the Super Bowl, as a matter of fact, White was a healthy scratch.
Against the Falcons, however, White caught 14 passes, a Super Bowl record. For comparison’s sake, Julio Jones, the Falcons’ phenomenal wideout, caught only four balls on Sunday night and Atlanta had just 17 catches as a team.
Oh, and White also ran for two touchdowns, one to tie the game at the end of regulation and another to win it in overtime. Of, course, this is the Patriots way. Two years ago, cornerback Malcolm Butler, an undrafted free agent from the University of West Alabama, provided the Super Bowl winning edge for New England.