There’s no denying it–Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are the greatest quarterback-coach duo in NFL History. Brady, armed with precision, timing, and experience, willed the New England Patriots to the most unexpected win in Super Bowl history. Facing a 28-3 deficit in the third quarter, Brady and Co. went to work, methodically engineering scoring drives to get back into the game. Granted, Atlanta’s defense, which predominantly played man coverage in the first half, was completely gassed in the fourth quarter. In total, Atlanta’s defense played 99 total snaps, 35 more than the average game. Key secondary members (i.e., Jalen Collins, Ricardo Allen, Keanu Neal, and Robert Alford) all played at least 95 snaps. Brady did not have any issues picking Atlanta’s tired secondary apart as he engineered the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history.
Entering the game, one of the little know story lines was Atlanta’s susceptibility to pass catching running backs. During the season, Atlanta yielded 823 receiving yards against enemy running backs, easily the worst mark in the NFL. Many were expecting Dion Lewis, who scored three touchdowns in the Division Round, to be the focal point of New England’s attack. Instead, James White led the way with eleven catches for 165 yards and two touchdowns, including the game winner. White, a former fifth round pick, is used to playing second fiddle to more talented runners, but shines when called upon. In high school, White backed up, and even rotated at fullback, for current Bengals’ running back, Gio Bernard. At Wisconsin, White saw limited playing time behind Montee Ball before sharing the backfield with Melvin Gordon, the Chargers’ current starting running back. In the NFL, White has been the third option behind LeGarrette Blount and Lewis, but has earned the trust and respect of Belichick and Josh McDaniels.
Brady, who turns 40-years-old in August, is in great shape, physically, and wants to keep playing. That’s bad news for any of New England’s AFC East foes, including the New York Jets. Brady showed that he has the heart of a champion, and more importantly, character that can overcome any difficult situation.