Phil Tor | Pats Militia
Now that the greatest comeback ever is in the books, and the celebration is almost over, everyone and their mother is trying to figure out how the Patriots came back to win the Super Bowl. The most obvious answer is the Falcons defense simply collapsed, which is true, but you can’t take anything away from the performances of Tom Brady, Julian Edelman and James White.
When I watched the game again last night, I did not so much recognize the offensive highlights from the second half. I recognized the way the defense stepped up and consistently made stops, forcing punts and turnovers. A number of players were involved in this 180 degree turn, but the player that made the biggest impact in my eyes was Trey Flowers.
For those of you who are unfamiliar, Trey Flowers is a second year defensive end out of Arkansas, where he was frequently at the top of the list in total tackles and tackles for a loss. Flowers only played in one game in the 2015 season, and after a fantastic preseason and training camp, he was a regular in the starting lineup up to the Super Bowl.
It didn’t take long for Flowers to make an impression on the Falcons offensive line, as on the first series Trey Flowers sacked Matt Ryan for a loss of 12 yards forcing the Falcons to punt. This sack was huge for the Patriots defense, because if you remember earlier on in the drive Devonta Freeman broke out for a 37 yard run that put them close to midfield. Also coming into the Super Bowl the Falcons had scored on their opening drive in 8 straight games, but thanks to that sack by Trey Flowers the Falcons streak was snapped.
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Flowers once again stepped up after the Patriots failed onside kick attempt after their first touchdown which made the score 28-9 with just over 17 minutes to play. Atlanta got the ball back in great field position, knowing that if they scored on this possession the game would most likely be over. The Patriots defense stepped up big time, forcing the Falcons out of field goal range, and once again Trey Flowers delivered the final blow on the Falcons drive. On 3rd and 11 from the Patriots 42 yard line, Flowers combined with linebacker Kyle van Noy to bring down Matt Ryan and force a key Falcons punt.
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The biggest momentum swing of the game came after Dont’a Hightower’s strip sack in the middle of the 4th quarter. This play was set up by yet another great play by Flowers. On a critical 2nd and 2, Flowers stuffed Falcons running back Tevin Coleman on a run up the middle. On the next play Flowers and Hightower charged from the left side of the line and Hightower knocked the ball free. That fumble set up another Patriots touchdown which narrowed the Falcons lead down to 8.
Atlanta responded fast, driving down the field in just 2 minutes. Setting up a scoring opportunity which would have put the game out of reach for the Patriots. On 2nd and 11, Flowers broke through the Falcons protection and sacked Ryan for a loss of 12 yards. On the next play the Falcons got caught with an offensive holding penalty, setting up a 3rd and 33. Once again the Patriots defense and Trey Flowers held off the charging Falcons and put the ball back in Tom Brady’s hands.
It’s all history from there folks. Tom Brady and the Patriots never looked back, tying up the game on the next possession, then scoring on the first drive in overtime. Although Brady’s excellence on the field was evident as a key to the win, the defense was the unit that stepped up in the greatest fashion. Without the performance of Trey Flowers, who finished with 2.5 sacks, 6 total tackles, and 5 QB Hits.
Super Bowl Sunday may have started two hours later, but it was still a great day to be a Patriots fan.
We’re onto 2017.