Over 20 percent of the New England Patriots’ roster doesn’t know life in the NFL without making a Super Bowl. How crazy is that?
The Patriots have made the Super Bowl in the last three years and four of the last five seasons. That’s unbelievable given the parity and typical franchise swings of the NFL. If they already hadn’t, the Patriots have reached a New York Yankees/Chicago Bulls/Montreal Canadiens level of success.
The Patriots beat the Kansas City Chiefs 37-31 to advance to Super Bowl LIII, in which they’ll face the Los Angeles Rams. This will be quarterback Tom Brady’s ninth Super Bowl appearance in 18 years as a starting quarterback.
Here are our biggest takeaways from an instant classic that went into overtime:
LB Kyle Van Noy: two sacks, four hurries
DE Trey Flowers: sack, QB hit, three hurries
LB Dont’a Hightower: four hurries
DE John Simon: sack, two hurries
DE Adrian Clayborn: QB hit, hurry
DT Lawrence Guy: QB hit, hurry
SS Patrick Chung: two hurries
FS Devin McCourty: QB hit
DT Adam Butler: QB hit
— Van Noy only rushed the quarterback 15 times, so he had an unbelievable 40 percent pressure rate. He was beat in coverage a few times, but he wreaked havoc as a pass rusher.
— Flowers, meanwhile, had a much more standard 12.8 pressure rate. Hightower’s was 13.8 percent, while Simon’s was 18.8 percent.
— Defensive tackle Malcom Brown rushed the passer 12 times but didn’t record a pressure.
LB Kyle Van Noy: seven catches on eight targets for 95 yards, TD
CB JC Jackson: 4-7, 89 yards, TD
CB Stephon Gilmore: 1-4, 54 yards
CB Keion Crossen: 1-1, 42 yards
CB Jonathan Jones: 1-3, 10 yards, PBU
LB Elandon Roberts: 1-3, 4 yards
LB Dont’a Hightower: 1-2, 1 yard, TD
CB Jason McCourty: 0-1, PBU
— Van Noy let up catches to tight end Travis Kelce, running backs Damien Williams and Spencer Ware and tight end Demetrius Harris. The Patriots as a whole had a tough time covering Williams, who had five catches for 66 yards with two touchdowns.
— Jackson began the game on Kelce before switching with cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who was covering wide receiver Sammy Watkins. Jackson let up two catches for 50 yards to Watkins and one 27-yarder to wide receiver Demarcus Robinson.
— Gilmore blanked Kelce. He let up the 54-yarder to Watkins.
— The Patriots let up just one 42-yard catch to wide receiver Tyreek Hill. Crossen allowed it. Jones covered Hill for most of the game and blanked the speedy wideout with the help of safety Devin McCourty.
— Jason McCourty covered Chris Conley for most of the game. Conley didn’t catch a single pass.
LB Elandon Roberts: two stops
DT Malcom Brown: stop
DT Lawrence Guy: stop
LB Kyle Van Noy: stop
DE Trey Flowers: stop, missed tackle
— Roberts has been a beast in the run game all season, and Sunday was no different.
— The Patriots allowed just 41 yards on 12 carries to the Chiefs. Williams had just 10 carries for 30 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
RT Marcus Cannon: two hurries
LT Trent Brown: hurry
LG Joe Thuney: hurry
C David Andrews: hurry
RG Shaq Mason: hurry
QB Tom Brady: hurry
— Tight end Rob Gronkowski, running back James White, tight end Dwayne Allen and offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle didn’t allow any pressures.
— Brady only was pressured on 13 percent of his dropbacks. He got the ball out, on average, in 2.23 seconds. That’s fast, but it’s not as quick as last week.
— We’ve said it multiple times now: Trent Brown, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason and Marcus Cannon are the unofficial AFC Championship Game MVPs.
— The Chiefs have tough pass rushers in Justin Houston, Dee Ford and Chris Jones. The Patriots’ ability to neutralize those elite defensive linemen is incredible.
— Of quarterback Tom Brady’s 16 incompletions, four were dropped.
— Wide receivers Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan and Cordarrelle Patterson and running back James White all had drops. Edelman’s drop was intercepted.
— Edelman more than made up for it in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter and into overtime. He had three catches for 55 yards in that span of time.
— Brady also threw an interception that was his fault in the Chiefs’ end zone. That play was a three-point swing.
— Brady was 2-of-6 for 54 yards with a touchdown on deep balls.
— Brady was 3-of-6 for 40 yards while pressured.
— He was unbelievable in those final two drives, going 11-of-16 for 147 yards.
RB Sony Michel: three missed tackles, 2.62 yards after contact per carry
RB Rex Burkhead: one missed tackle, 1.41 yards after contact per carry
RB James White: one missed tackle, 1 yard after contact per carry
— The Patriots had low yards after contact per carry numbers overall. That tells you the offensive line was doing a fantastic job creating space for them to run through before contact could come.
— Overall, the Patriots had 48 carries for 176 yards with four touchdowns. All three of the Patriots’ running backs averaged less than 4 yards per carry, but they still had success running the ball given the overall total. Michel, Burkhead and White could do a better job of creating yards on their own moving forward.
Thumbnail photo via Denny Medley/USA TODAY Sports Images