Super Bowl LII brought forth a statistically impressive, but otherwise embarrassingly horrible, game for New England. Simply, the Patriots’ defense lost the game for them. There’s no way to sugar coat how Philadelphia was able to pound down the defense on every drive. The game itself was frustrating on an entirely new level, thus the four down instead of a typical three down. An unusual game deserves to be talked about in an unusual way.
Matt Patricia (1&2)
Matt Patricia is the defensive coordinator. He is responsible as the defensive coordinator to evaluate the way his defense plays and make changes according to the results in order to give New England their best chance at preventing the opposing team from scoring. Where was Matt Patricia during Super Bowl LII? Probably daydreaming about his new coaching job in Detroit. This is the worst defensive showing the Patriots have put up all season; including the preseason when they were really bad.
The Eagles had a total of 25 first downs, with 6 by rushing and 19 by passing. They successfully converted on 10-of-16 third-down attempts, and 2-of-2 fourth down attempts. Philadelphia totaled 164 net rushing yards, compared to the Patriots’ 113 net rushing yards. Finally, the Eagles had possession of the ball for 34:04 minutes in the game, while the Patriots had the ball for 25:56 minutes.
The statistics mentioned above are just numbers. The meaning behind each number is what Matt Patricia should be ashamed of. There was little to no blitzing/quarterback pressure/effort to stop Nick Foles by New England. The Secondary either left way too much space between their player/zone or didn’t leave enough space and got beaten. As a unit, the defensive line was being torn to shreds; they were all being humiliated. This defensive behavior went on for the entire game. Where was Matt Patricia when his defense was suffering?
Stephen Gostkowski, Joe Cardona, Ryan Allen (3)
This isn’t the first time miscommunication between these three have cost the team points. On December 17, New England faced off against Pittsburgh. Joe Cardona and Ryan Allen weren’t in sync and, as a result, kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed an extra point kick. This time around, Joe Cardona’s shoddy snap led to Allen fumbling with the ball for a little longer than he should have, and Gostkowski tried to kick the field goal but it went far left. Even though this field goal wouldn’t have ultimately changed the outcome of the game, these points do matter. I’ve said all season that every point counts, including field goals and extra point kicks. The importance of these points only amplifies in the Super Bowl.
Brandin Cooks (4)
Nothing compares to the gut-wrenching feeling that overcame me when I saw Brandin Cooks get bashed into the turf. Cooks caught a pass from Brady in the second quarter, then stumbled around for a second trying to figure out which direction to run. As he began his advance down the field, he was blindly knocked out full force from behind by Philadelphia’s Malcolm Jenkins. The receiver lay motionless on the ground for an agonizing number of seconds before the medical team was out on the field with him. No penalty was called for the helmet-to-helmet contact or the overly vicious hit. The loss of Cooks would impact the game more than anyone realized at the time. Brady no longer had his go-to long receiver. Cooks wasn’t on the field to beat players downfield and catch the Hail Mary thrown as time expired in the fourth quarter.
No other single player stepped up more than Chris Hogan did on Sunday. Brady began to fully incorporate all of his offensive threats, with Hogan being a huge target for the quarterback. Hogan had 6 receptions for 128 yards, 1 carry for 4 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception. After Cooks left the game with his ‘unspecified head injury’, Hogan truly stepped up to fill the receivers shoes to the best of his abilities. Hogan can walk away from this season on a very high note.
Following closely behind Chis Hogan is Rob Gronkowski. After just being cleared from concussion protocol, the tight end played his heart out in Super Bowl LII. Gronkowski was targeted a few times during the beginning of the game and either Brady’s passes were uncatchable or the defenders got to the spots first. Regardless, after they fixed their communication problem, The Gronk was unstoppable. He finished the night with 9 receptions for 116 yards and 2 touchdowns. During the Patriots opening drive of the second half, Gronkowski single-handedly marched the team downfield and scored the touchdown in 4 catches (with two short runs by White). Gronkowski can join Hogan in being proud of the way they ended the season.
Danny Amendola is the silent but deadly device used to slowly tear apart the opposing defense. And that is exactly what Amendola did on Sunday. Amendola had 8 receptions for 152 yards, the most amount of yardage by a single player on either side. Even though he didn’t have a touchdown, the receiver chipped away at the Eagles’ defense and forced them to give up large chunks of yardage, resulting in more first down conversions and more touchdowns. Another offensive player for the Patriots who should be satisfied with their final performance of the season.
Honorable Mention: Tom Brady
Tom Brady had a great night overall, throwing 28 completed passes for 505 yards and 3 touchdowns. Brady broke too many records during Super Bowl LII to list; but to summarize: he is the greatest quarterback in the NFL.
The New England offense did an incredible job of scoring and converting when the team needed to, but in the end it boils down to which defense can become the better offense. Matt Patricia’s head wasn’t in the game, and none of his defensive players stepped up to fill the vacancy left by their now ex-coordinator. In the end, no one phrased the game better than Tom Brady, “We (offense) were pretty effective tonight. Just didn’t score more points than the other team.”
–Caitlyn Allen is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage Sports Media. She covers the New England Patriots. Follow her on Twitter @caitlyyyn_allen