Edelman was the MVP, but the defense won this championship
Can an entire 11-man unit stand at the podium this morning with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to accept a Super Bowl MVP trophy?
Evidently not, because New England Patriots receiver Julian Edelman will be the one accepting the MVP honors from Goodell this morning.
But really, the Patriots defense collectively should be on that stage after dominating the Los Angeles Rams in a 13-3 Super Bowl win at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Even the receiver admits that.
“The defense was unreal holding that offense to three points,” he said. “It is pretty crazy. They should be the MVP – the whole (defense).”
Sure, Edelman was his usual fantastic self with a 10 catch, 141-yard performance. Yet defacto defensive coordinator Brian Flores, who will be on another stage today or tomorrow in Miami, accepting the Dolphins head coaching job, and his unit were the real MVPs.
How ironic. it’s a defense that didn’t give the explosive L.A. offense and overmatched quarterback Jared Goff a single inch. If it bent, it eventually broke the Rams with a big play.
The Patriots shot themselves in the foot a few times, but this just was a dominating performance in so many ways by the Patriot defense. And it was a defense that lost a key player early in the third quarter when safety Patrick Chung suffered what appeared to be a broken arm trying to tackle Todd Gurley.
But the Gurley Man wasn’t much of an offensive threat (10 carries, 35 yards) and neither was Goff.
“Just got to give credit to the Patriots man, Gurley said. They’ve been here three years in a row for a reason. We couldn’t get anything going.”
When Goff had Brandin Cooks wide open in the back of the end zone on what was the first drive the Rams didn’t have to end with a punt, Jason McCourty came over and helped disrupt the play. Goff took too long.
“He’s been the Patriot guy,” McCourty’s brother, Devin McCourty said. “He’s been the swiss army knife. This group’s been unbelievable all year. We knew from a defensive standpoint we were good enough to do multiple things.”
Good enough to keep a high-powered offense out of the end zone?
“They were doing a good job defensively mixing it up on us,” Goff said. “We had a hard time moving the ball. One play, just one play, we couldn’t get just one play, and they did. … For an offense what we’re capable of being, and them doing what they did to us, that’s impressive.”
And then he tried to force a pass into the end zone with 4:17 left and there was Stephon Gilmore to make the interception at the 3 yard line.
Who expected a defensive struggle? Anyone? Anyone? Buehler? The game,3-3 after three quarters, was the lowest scoring Super Bowl after 45 minutes since Jan. 9, 1975, when Pittsburgh led Minnesota 9-0 after three.
“We just played fast,” said Gilmore, who had a huge fourth quarter interception, said. “We knew it wasn’t going to be perfect. We believe in each other and we stuck with each other. We’ve been doing that all year.”
Meanwhile, yes, give Edelman credit. Defensively, the Rams had no answer for him. But they also had no answer for the New England defense. Incredible.
“It’s disappointing, all the work you do during the year to get here and you don’t capitalize,” said Rams receiver Brandin Cooks, who somehow managed eight catches for 120 yards “They’ve (the Patriots) been playing great throughout the post season. You look at the on film and you can tell they’re a great defense.”
And for the Patriots, it’s redemption from last year when it appeared the defense let the team down.
It feels a lot better than last year when we did get some points on the board,” Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said. “I just felt like we needed to grind it out all night.
Our defense, that was incredible. It’s a team game, man, the defense played so well. We finally helped them out by getting a touchdown.”
“In the biggest moment, when they had to compete the hardest, they did it,” Belichick said
What a difference a year makes.
Tom King may be reached at 594-1251,firstname.lastname@example.org, or@Telegraph_TomK.