ATLANTA — There’s irony in the fact that Patrick Chung hasn’t finished the New England Patriots’ last two Super Bowls.
Chung is one of the toughest and most durable players on the Patriots’ roster. After Sunday’s 13-3 win over the Los Angeles Rams, he’s won more Super Bowls (three) than missed games (two) since returning to New England in 2014.
Chung suffered a concussion late in the Patriots’ Super Bowl LII loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. He was forced to follow the rest of the game from the locker room.
But when he broke his right arm on the third play of the third quarter in Super Bowl LIII, Chung put his arm in a sling and returned to the sideline to cheer on his teammates.
“I gotta support my teammates,” Chung said as he struggled to dress in the locker room with his right arm cast and wrapped in plastic. “Can’t do that from the locker room.”
A lasting image from Sunday’s win will be Chung, arm in a sling, holding the Lombardi Trophy high with his left arm on the championship stage.
Chung’s show of emotion after the injury (which “hurt really bad,” in case you were wondering) was due to frustration, however, and not pain.
After Chung broke his arm, he refused to get on the golf cart which had driven onto the Mercedes-Benz Stadium field, instead choosing to walk in front of it with his arm in an air cast to the locker room.
“If I can walk, I can walk. I didn’t hurt my leg or anything,” Chung said.
Usually, if Chung goes down with an injury, safety Devin McCourty slides into the strong safety role, and Duron Harmon replaces McCourty as the free safety. But Chung was playing linebacker in Super Bowl LIII with Jonathan Jones taking over at safety. So, McCourty went to de-facto defensive coordinator Brian Flores after the injury to figure out what the Patriots would do. Linebacker Elandon Roberts replaced Chung on early downs, and Duron Harmon took on a bigger role in the passing game.
“As a defense, we’re on the field and there is nobody that can replace Pat,” cornerback Jason McCourty said. “It’s not just like he goes down and it’s next person in. He plays safety, he plays linebacker, he plays the most different positions on our defense. So when he goes down, it’s an adjustment on what guys can play different roles.
“Hats off to the staff and us as players for adjusting. Everybody knew that we had to pick up a little bit for Patrick and seeing him come back to the field with the sling on encouraged us.”
The Patriots allowed just three points and 260 net yards to the Rams all game. And when Harmon replaced Chung, he made two key plays, helping to break up a pass over Brandin Cooks with help from cornerback Stephon Gilmore, and putting pressure on Rams quarterback Jared Goff the next play on Gilmore’s interception.
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