The New England Patriots stunned everyone by holding the Los Angeles Rams to three measly points in Super Bowl LIII.
Everyone, linebacker Kyle Van Noy said, except themselves.
During an appearance Tuesday on NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football,” Van Noy explained why the Patriots’ defense expected to dominate against a Rams offense that had scored the 11th-most points in NFL history during the regular season.
“I think what people fail to realize is what we’d been doing even before then, going back to the end of the regular season,” Van Noy said on the morning show. “We were holding teams, after the Steelers game (in Week 15), to practically no rushing yards. I feel like that trend had been set, and we kept at it, kept at it, and it happened in those big games in the playoffs.
“Even though we kind of let down a little bit in the second halves, we always started out really strong. So we knew going into the (Super Bowl) we were going to start out strong. We just needed to finish, because we didn’t finish against the Chargers and we didn’t finish against the Chiefs. And we finished against the Rams, baby.”
The Patriots held the Chargers and Chiefs to seven total first-half points in the divisional round and AFC Championship Game, respectively, but allowed 21 and 31 in the second halves of those games. There was no such letdown on Super Bowl Sunday.
Facing play-calling wunderkind Sean McVay and the likes of Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods, New England’s defense forced punts on each of LA’s first eight possessions. The Rams managed only a third-quarter field goal and didn’t run a single play in the red zone in a 13-3 Patriots victory.
“Honestly, I wasn’t surprised because of the amount of preparation we had,” said Van Noy, whose one-sack, three-QB hit performance put him contention for Super Bowl MVP honors. “We had so much preparation. You give somebody like Bill (Belichick) and B-Flo (Brian Flores) and the entire coaching staff that much time, and the players and the families — that all combined in one is just a winning culture, and I’m blessed to be around it, that’s for sure.”
Since being acquired from the Detroit Lions for a swap of late-round draft picks midway through the 2016 season, Van Noy has blossomed into a versatile defensive pillar for the Patriots.
The 27-year-old played 90.7 percent of defensive snaps this season (third among Patriots defenders behind Stephon Gilmore and Devin McCourty) and led the team with 89 tackles while also recording 3 1/2 sacks, five tackles for loss, 10 QB hits, one interception, two pass breakups, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and a touchdown scored off a blocked punt.
Van Noy played some of his best football to date in the 2018 postseason, including stellar efforts against the Chiefs (10 tackles, two sacks, forced fumble) and Rams.
“There’s so many different things that (the Patriots) have done for myself (and) for other teammates to be put in the right position to succeed,” Van Noy said on “GMFB.” “And I feel like that’s what they’ve done with me — they’ve put me in places to succeed and use my talents (to) the best of my ability as they see fit. And that’s kind of been the success, I feel like. They’ve just put me where they need to for my strengths, and I’ve been able to show them off.”
Thumbnail photo via Dale Zanine/USA TODAY Sports Images