Our numbers back up the conventional wisdom when it comes to edge rushers in the 2017 draft: this Garrett kid is Myles ahead of the competition.
06 Feb 2017
compiled by Andrew Potter
Each Sunday, the FO staff sends around emails about the games that each of us are watching. We share information about the games that the rest of the group might not be watching, ask questions, and keep everyone else informed about which games they might want to tune into (if they can).
On Monday, we compile a digest of those emails and produce this feature. By its nature, it can be disjointed and dissimilar to the other articles on the site.
While these e-mails are generally written with Audibles in mind, they do not represent a standard review of all the games each week. That means we aren't going to cover every game, or every important play. We watch the games that we, as fans, are interested in watching, so your favorite team's game might not be covered to your fullest desires or even at all. (If you are a Steelers or Patriots fan, you are probably in luck; if you are a Bills fan, not so much.) We have no intention of adding new authors solely to cover every game on a given Sunday, nor will we watch a different game from the ones that we're personally interested in watching just to ensure that Audibles covers every game.
Rivers McCown: I just rode on a police-escorted bus next to Vince Ferragamo on the way to the Super Bowl. Life does not suck.
Aaron Schatz: How's the mood in the press box pregame?
Rivers McCown: I'm only in the aux press box, which is kind of just a reconstituted nosebleed section. I feel like I'm close to everyone who was sent here from a different country. So it's a little awkward compared to a normal press atmosphere between the amped up crowd noise and that, but you can definitely get the roar of this crowd, which is louder than I've heard in a long time for pre-game. Especially when the camera zooms in on Mr. Brady.
Aaron Schatz: Huh. Two years ago there was a walkway between aux press and regular so we milled around with everyone before the game.
Rivers McCown: They're quite separated here. Not that this really matters or anything.
Cian Fahey: The most important thing to know before this game kicks off is that the Cowboys would have won if they started Tony Romo.
Vince Verhei: When I went to bed last night I was ready to come out here and pick Atlanta, thinking that New England was overrated by a schedule that was even easier than it looked on the surface. Then I learned that Alex Mack was playing on a broken leg, and, well, never mind.
Scott Kacsmar: I'm not saying it's enough to make me change a pick, but when you look at Mack's leg, Julio's toe that should require surgery, and Kyle Shanahan lining up his next job, it's just more reasons to lean towards New England here.
Aaron Schatz: My guess is Shanahan has concentrated plenty enough on this game plan. That one doesn't worry me in the slightest. Julio Jones has been playing on that toe injury for a while, right? But Mack is a big, big deal. The Falcons started the same five guys all 16 games and Mack is the best one of them. If he's limited or, even worse, has to come off the field, that's going to hurt them both running and passing the ball. Ben Garland played as many snaps at defensive tackle as he did on the offensive line during the regular season (42 each).
Rivers McCown: I think Atlanta's going to have to run on New England to win this game. And while I'm not saying that can't happen, a seasonal and short-look burst at how New England's defense has performed doesn't make that look especially likely.
Carl Yedor: Someone in Vegas must have made a lot of money on a prop bet for the first drive ending in a 3-and-out just now.
And then the Falcons get one big play and are forced to punt on their subsequent series.
Pats are really threatening the Falcons with their non-Blount backs out in space, trying to force them out of base packages.
Cian Fahey: Don't understand the Patriots' pass-heavy focus so far. Blount is such an obvious mismatch against this defensive front.
Tom Gower: I was curious about how New England would deploy their defensive front. Patriots the first defensive series had the ends lined up pretty wide, trying to attack the outside zone run game, but Atlanta went to crack toss the opening play of the game so New England didn't take the outside and force the cutback. Ditto on the second play, not as big a gainer for Devonta Freeman but still a play where they got the edge.
Bryan Knowles: What's surprising so far is the failure of both teams on third-and-short. New England converted on 67.1 percent of their third-and-shorts this year; Atlanta trailed at 57.1 percent. So far, though, both teams have been stopped short on a third-and-short; the Patriots on their first drive, Atlanta on their second.
I would not have called four straight punts to open the game.
Andrew Potter: So the Belichick-era Patriots still haven't scored in the first quarter of any of their Super Bowls, wins or losses. We all expected that streak to continue here, right?
Vince Verhei: That, and I believe two sacks for each defense, also a surprise.
I think every run for Atlanta in the first quarter was a pitch or sweep. Not even trying to run behind Mack.
Rivers McCown: Play-action pass and a deep corner. Welcome to the Super Bowl, Julio Jones.
Bryan Knowles: There's some running up the middle -- Freeman with back-to-back great decisions with cutbacks, and the Patriots are on their heels.
Aaron Schatz: The Patriots' run defense was so good all year, but the Falcons are just pushing the Patriots around, and Freeman's got extra jukes tonight.
Vince Verhei: So much cool stuff on Atlanta's first touchdown. They bring in spread personnel, motion to a tight formation, and then at the snap all the motion is suggesting a pass or run to the right, but instead it's Freeman to the left and an easy score.
Bryan Knowles: This is the first time Patriots have trailed in a game since Week 12 against the Jets. That's an impressive streak that just got snapped.
Cian Fahey: Dont'a Hightower looks lost so far. Speed when the Falcons go outside is a major issue and hasn't reacted appropriately when working off the edge.
Rivers McCown: You have to wonder how healthy he is right now. He's been banged up all year.
Aaron Schatz: Two good plays by C.J. Goodwin (?!?!) on that drive after the touchdown. Do they not have Brian Poole on the field? Goodwin hasn't played much this season, he's usually their fourth cornerback.
Scott Kacsmar: What a drive for C.J. Goodwin. Perfect pass break-up on Malcolm Mitchell, and a great open-field tackle against an elusive runner in Dion Lewis on third down. Atlanta defense is stepping up so far.
Vince Verhei: OK, New England's game plan confuses me. Only six running back carries on their first four drives, and one of those was a draw/delay. Don't understand why they're not just giving it to Blount and punching Atlanta in the mouth.
Bryan Knowles: Beautiful throw by Ryan to get Austin Hooper open for the touchdown. The Patriots have been double-teaming Julio Jones, and that just leaves the Falcons' other weapons in exploitable matchups.
Rivers McCown: They clearly wanted to get Hooper on Chung on that one, the motion was meant to keep that there. Great throw, too.
Cian Fahey: The Patriots doubled Julio over the middle of the field on Austin Hooper's touchdown.
Andrew Potter: The Falcons are timing New England's snap count exceedingly well. That's not the reason for the defensive stops, but it's certainly helping.
Aaron Schatz: I expected Brady to target Brian Poole. I did not expect Poole to target himself with holding penalties.
Bryan Knowles: The Falcons are beginning to shoot themselves in the foot here with penalties -- you don't want to give the Patriots extra chances.
Not that the Patriots offense is really taking advantage of the extra opportunities yet, but still.
Rivers McCown: I'm a bit confused by how the Pats are running Blount so far. Seems like a lot more stretch plays and delayed handoffs than quick hitters.
Andrew Potter: Free Jimmy G!
Wow, this was not remotely in the script.
Rivers McCown: To take a basketball quote, Robert Alford just sucked the gravity right out of the building.
Bryan Knowles: Nothing's ever over after one half, and if there's a coach/quarterback combo in the league who can make adjustments and come out in the second half rejuvenated, it's the Pats -- but this has been pretty shockingly one-sided so far.
We all questioned whether the Falcons could score enough points to keep up with the Patriots and win in a shootout. The Patriots going down three scores really wasn't in the game plan for anyone.
Vince Verhei: Pats have the ball for what feels like 20 plays, with three third-down conversions on Atlanta holding calls. And they still can't cross the 20, and Brady forces a ball into double-coverage and Robert Alford gets a pick-six. I told you all that Atlanta was going to win no matter Mack's health.
Obviously the big-picture surprise is New England with zero points in five drives now, but the small-picture surprise is Atlanta's defensive line handily winning their battle. Patriots can't run at all, and Atlanta is getting pressure with four-man rushes.
Carl Yedor: New England really needs a score here with Atlanta set to get the ball at the start of the second half. Think Belichick considers an onside kick? It may seem a little bit desperate, but if we've learned anything from Sean Payton, it could be a risk well worth taking.
Bryan Knowles: A screen to Martellus Bennett with 12 seconds left? What's the best-case scenario of that?
Carl Yedor: The only thing I can think of is that they're conceding the chance at the touchdown in order to avoid losing their field goal attempt. Which is frighteningly risk averse, especially considering who was calling the play.
Vince Verhei: And even more so given the score!
Aaron Schatz: Brady's having maybe his worst game of the year, and the play call on the screen to Martellus Bennett right before halftime made NO sense.
I'll basically say the same thing I said at halftime of the NFC Championship Game about the Packers and Aaron Rodgers. I absolutely believe Brady can score 19 points or more on the Falcons in the second half. There's no way the Patriots keep the Falcons to zero. Trying to catch up against an offense this good is even harder than comebacks usually are.
Vince Verhei: Back-to-back screen plays at the end of the half. One would have worked out if not for a holding call, but that's still some wacky clock management.
Second half just ended, and it has already been 34 minutes in real time since the Falcons offense ran a play. Now they have to wait for Lady Gaga too.
Andrew Potter: Well I did call New England's first score of the game being a field goal. I did not call that it would come down 21-0 with two seconds left in the half.
Really looks like the best the Patriots can hope for is a huge adrenaline comedown for the Falcons during the unusually long half-time break.
Aaron Schatz: Yeah. I have a funny feeling they'll be fine.
Scott Kacsmar: Felt like the Blount fumble ended the chances of this being a Blount game. Falcons have bottled him up really well, and I would use Lewis and White for the second half almost exclusively. Really surprising to see how well Atlanta is getting to Brady, who definitely looks off his game. I'm not sure if it's a good or bad thing that Ryan has only thrown eight passes and hasn't really been locked into the game yet. He'll still have to make plays in the second half obviously, but Freeman is running so well too, that it might not matter if he barely cracks 200 yards passing tonight... Still, should be telling to see how aggressive Shanahan is on that first drive, assuming Belichick doesn't pull out a surprise onside kick.
Bryan Knowles: Alright, if you're Belichick, what do you do? I think you have to try to wear that Atlanta front four down; they're getting way too much pressure. Maybe pull out the no-huddle for the entire second half, and trust your experienced players to outperform Falcons rookies on defense?
Andrew Potter: Well with the score what it is, they might have to go no-huddle the entire second half just to have enough possessions to wear into the deficit. Assuming not unreasonably that Atlanta tags on another 14, the Patriots need five touchdowns to even have a chance at this.
Tom Gower: The tight end screen call made just as little sense to me as it did to the rest of you. If New England was getting the second-half kickoff, I can kind of get the internal logic of it because of the improved chance to go back-to-back, but especially with Atlanta's offense and the Patriots having to kick I don't like it.
Atlanta stopped getting the edge in the second quarter, but they got outside enough to really horizontally stretch the Patriots defense and gash them in open space. By the time the second half kicks off, though, it will have been more than an hour real-time between offensive plays (last was around 7:27 Eastern Time), and I don't know they'll react and what New England will do to counter what they're doing. Obviously, it doesn't look good.
The question for the other side of the ball is how much of New England's doing is their own mistakes versus Atlanta. Yes, they're fast. The defensive backs have mostly done a great job of playing the pocket -- Alford, I believe, right before the half on Edelman, and Goodwin's first play in his big series stand out in particular. Yes, Grady Jarrett and Ra'Shede Hageman have made Pats linemen look bad at times, and Dwight Freeney has done well against Nate Solder. But Brady has just flat-out missed throws we see him make regularly. He has been so good this year, but so bad today. And I don't understand LeGarrette Blount running from the shotgun or laterally as much as he has.
So, what do the Patriots do? If I'm Atlanta, I run onside kick protection every kickoff until game situation says not to because getting a stop-and-a-TD-and-a-stop-and-a-TD-and-a-stop-and-a-TD just to tie the game in two quarters will be really, really hard and stealing a possession is almost essential. No-huddle and shifting seems like it might help on offense, but my brain keeps trying to suggest things that play into the Falcons' speed. But they haven't been able to run effectively enough to play power. So... great first half, Atlanta. But New England's really good and capable of outscoring you by 18 in the second half.
If they do go with White and Lewis at the same time, the Falcons will play sub defense and match speed with speed. So it becomes tackling, which is something Atlanta has done well for the most part. White had the one play, but Martellus Bennett has been the only player to consistently get good YAC. I forget who I saw on Twitter first mention what I was thinking, but this is the first game where it's really, really clear the Patriots miss Rob Gronkowski.
Bryan Knowles: In other news, I enjoyed the light-up bat'leths during the halftime show. More sci-fi weaponry needs to appear in high-profile locations.
Vince Verhei: Lady Gaga's halftime show was basically what it would have looked like if Jem and the Holograms were real.
Rivers McCown: Using Lady Gaga as a possession receiver might help the Pats out.
Bryan Knowles: The Patriots' odds of a comeback would be improved if they could actually catch a football.
Rivers McCown: Just too many drops/passes defensed for the Patriots. Brady made a big mistake, and Blount made a big mistake, but the majority of the balls have been put in a place where they could be caught and just haven't been. Credit to the Falcons for making it rough, obviously, but it's hard to mount a comeback when every contested post is an incomplete pass.
Vince Verhei: Really, really irritated that Patriots receivers are now dropping all the big catches they didn't drop two years ago against Seattle.
Also irritated that the defensive back who made the game-winning interception two years ago is now getting juked out of his shoes and falling down and leaving guys wide open to set up touchdowns. That was due to a great route by Gabriel, but the Pats have been shooting themselves in the foot all day.
Aaron Schatz: And another march down the field by Atlanta, 28-3 now. This is the one result I really did not expect: an Atlanta blowout. Congratulations to them. They've gone on a hell of a run the last three games.
Bryan Knowles: I can't wait to see Blaine Gabbert run this offense next season.
Rivers McCown: Matt Schaub in San Francisco will be glorious.
Andrew Potter: It's kind of a shame that Rookie of the Year was already decided, because early-season contender Deion Jones is having a heck of a game for the Falcons and this would have raised his voting profile substantially.
I mean obviously he'll take the ring, but I'm sure the personal award would have been nice too.
Vince Verhei: You could argue the Falcons defense is outplaying the offense, and Jones should be MVP, with a quarter to go.
Falcons recovered the onside kick, but they looked like they were caught off guard by it. Shouldn't they expect an onside kick every time now?
Bryan Knowles: And just when the Patriots score and show some life... Stephen Gostkowski shanks the extra point.
Down 19, doesn't it makes more sense to go for two anyway? A bit of a strategic lapse from the Pats, even ignoring the doink.
Cian Fahey: It really felt like this game ended before halftime. The Patriots defense doesn't look capable of stopping anything that the Falcons want to do.
Bryan Knowles: Already seeing some on Twitter (Colin Cowherd, for one) suggesting that this game should keep the Patriots from trying to trade Jimmy Garoppolo. Because one bad game from Brady (a game that isn't over yet, technically) is sure proof that he's washed up.
National Jump to Conclusions Week is now an eight-month event.
Bryan Knowles: The Patriots field goal does technically make it a two-score game, but I don't think the Patriots could afford missing the full touchdown when they're that close to the end zone.
Andrew Potter: They were clearly in four-down mode with the shot play to Mitchell on third-and-short, but the sack made the latter fourth down too long for their liking. They played that drive pretty close to the way I'd like to see teams play in the normal course of things. Of course, down by 19 points is not the normal course of things, and a bit more aggressiveness has probably been called for on at least two Patriots drives now.
Bryan Knowles: Well... a turnover might make things a little interesting here...
...and Dwight Freeney plows through and blows up Brady. Clock keeps ticking.
Andrew Potter: The Super Bowl was a really bad time for last year's Patriots offensive line to reappear.
Bryan Knowles: And we have an eight-point game!
The Patriots still need a stop, a score and a two-point conversion, but those are all possible things.
Rivers McCown: Direct snap on the goal line takes some huevos. Kudos to Josh McDaniels for bouncing back from that rough first half.
Carl Yedor: Two-pointer to White is good and the Atlanta lead is down to eight. Just how we drew it up at the start of the fourth. Should be an exciting finish now.
Bryan Knowles: I am watching this game with a die-hard Patriots fan, and his reactions so far reminds me of the 49ers fans I was watching Super Bowl XLVII with. That didn't end up very well for them. We'll see if it's any different for Pats fan now.
And the second offensive piece leaves the field for the Falcons -- Schraeder goes out.
Julio Jones is ~magic~. That was perfect coverage and a high throw (only possible throw for Ryan), and Jones just made an amazing highlight-reel catch.
Vince Verhei: Oh my god Julio Jones.
Patriots should be calling timeout after that though.
And there they do on the second-down sack.
Bryan Knowles: Trey Flowers gets to Matt Ryan, and that sack might take Atlanta out of field goal range -- at least, it makes it much more difficult. Worst possible outcome there, barring a turnover. Gotta throw it away.
Aaron Schatz: Scott Pianowski said on Twitter "New England opponents usually have one of these insane completions in the Super Bowl."
My response: "I don't think it counts as insane if Julio catches it. Just counts as Julio being awesome like he is."
Bryan Knowles: If the Falcons run the ball three times there, they're kicking a game-sealing field goal (or, at least, attempting it). Kyle Shanahan gets too cute, and now the Pats are alive...
Vince Verhei: Welp. 91 yards to go for Brady and the offense we all thought had the big advantage coming in to the game.
Andrew Potter: Now the Patriots have the most awkward situation possible, strategically. They need a touchdown and a two-point conversion, which could be one score or could be two. They want to have a chance if the two-point fails, but not give the Falcons time for a field goal if it succeeds. Yeesh. Awesome viewing.
Bryan Knowles: Julian Edelman is ~also~ magic.
Aaron Schatz: Julian Edelman reversed the Kearse.
Rivers McCown: So this game isn't bad, eh?
Bryan Knowles: Two-minute warning, so people can remember to breathe. Good lord.
Vince Verhei: And now we have gone from New England being out of this game, to maybe tying it up too quickly and leaving the Falcons time for a winning field goal. (This comment written as New England gets a first down at the 21 at the two-minute warning.)
Andrew Potter: Looks like they went for the "leave time in case it fails" option. What a drive! What a second half! What a game!
Bryan Knowles: Well. Let's see what the MVP can do...
Aaron Schatz: I still think that the Patriots should not have worried about time. The two-point conversion is a 50/50 proposition. You need to leave time in case you blow the two-point conversion, to onside kick and then try to get a field goal to win.
Vince Verhei: 57 seconds for a field goal is plenty for Matt Ryan though.
Bryan Knowles: Don't at all agree with the Falcons running it out of the end zone there. You've got the Falcons offense -- take the guaranteed ball at the 25 and go for it.
Vince Verhei: One of many bad decisions for Atlanta in the second half.
Bryan Knowles: The fake kneel got me...
And oh good lord, Dion Lewis' ankle.
Aaron Schatz: I never quite know how the fair catch field goal rule works. Would the Patriots have been able to try a field goal there? (If so, I assume they didn't because it was something like 75 yards and there would be a chance Julio Jones could return a miss for a touchdown to win.)
Tom Gower: 75-yard fair catch free kick was New England's for the taking if they wanted to try it. Could put normal kickoff personnel out there, kick could not have been rushed (The Falcons would have to be 10 yards back).
Rivers McCown: There's a huge Pats swarm right next to the aux press box and watching them live and die with the sequence from Julio on has been utterly fascinating.
Andrew Potter: See, when I said "no to overtime" in Scramble, because I wanted to sleep at some point tonight? I take it back, alllll the way back. I'm not sleeping now, no matter what happens. This game is amazing.
Bryan Knowles: Wow. What a game. What a touchdown. What a... Wow.
Lots of tweets that need to be taken back now. "Don't count out Tom Brady before the fourth quarter" appears to be lesson to take from tonight.
Aaron Schatz: All my tweets. I have to take almost all of them back. I need time to process this. I'm just in complete shock this happened. As a Patriots fan this is amazing. But the Falcons fans must feel like we did in 2007 and that's awful. I'm just in shock.
OK, not enough shock that I can't say: Hey, remember when I took James White with my last staff fantasy draft pick? That was cool.
Rivers McCown: Here in Houston, where the Oilers are officially off the hook.
What a ridiculous game. Felt like you could tell the story of a lot of it via the hurry-up offense working for Atlanta early and New England late.
Andrew Potter: I can't, I mean, just... where do you begin? HOW do you begin? That's the greatest game I've ever seen. It's not recency bias. It's not hyperbole. That is the greatest game of football I have ever seen in my life.
Vince Verhei: So, uh, usually we put up Audibles right after the Super Bowl.
I think it's going to take us all a few hours to compartmentalize this and put it to bed.
But for now: wow.
Recency bias? Sure, but this may top it. It wasn't great for a half, but the comeback... the overtime... this is why we stick with football. This is why we watch the blowouts, and why we struggle to understand what is and is not a catch. This is why we watch teams sputter to losing seasons and fail to even line up properly. It's the chance that we'll see something like this game.
What a game. What an end to the season.
Tom Gower: Best game ever has to be interesting and competitive for four quarters. We tend to overrate games that combine long stretches of "not that interesting" with "incredibly compelling stretches." Super Bowl XXXIV (Rams-Titans) was like that, as was Super Bowl XXXVIII (NE-CAR), and so was tonight's game. If this had ended after three quarters, it would have been considered as another dud in a playoff season full of duds. For one, Arizona-Pittsburgh, with game-changing plays very late and early in the game, was a more consistently entertaining contest.
Scott Kacsmar: Third-and-1, you run the ball with Freeman, but the Falcons throw, and Matt Ryan coughs up the ball in his own end. Second and third down, ball inside the New England 25, you run it twice, force timeouts to be used, and let Matt Bryant give you an 11-point lead with three minutes left or so. How hard is it to make these decisions that should be so obvious? The Falcons blew this one in epic fashion.
Aaron Schatz: Super Bowl XXXVIII was remarkably weird. That was totally boring for the first and third quarters and freakin' amazing for the second and fourth quarters. I still go with Super Bowl XLIX as the best ever, or Super Bowl XLIII (Cardinals-Steelers 2008).
Vince Verhei: This game was pretty crappy for about 40 minutes, then great for 20 and overtime. I may be biased, but I'll still go with New England over Seattle two years ago.
Looking back... Atlanta's offense only scored 21 points tonight. Second-lowest output for the year, I think. Massive credit to everyone on New England's defense.
Thirty minutes of driving later, two more thoughts have occurred to me:
Tom Gower: Two plays in particular for Atlanta's offense stand out:
On the other side of the ball, there's a lot to unpack and a lot of details to go into. A couple stand out. First, the comeback was the New England offense I think a lot of us expected to see for the entire game. Looked at as a whole, they ended up scoring 28 points in 11 non-kneeldown regulation possessions. That's not a superlative performance, but happened in a highly narrative and dramatic fashion. Second, Atlanta's defensive backs were kind of close, but didn't make plays on the ball like they did earlier in the game. Third, how the comeback happened reminded me of Alabama-Clemson. The trailing team ran a ridiculous number of plays, wearing down the pass rush of the team that was leading, and finishing the game with a lot of success on offense in part because the quarterback could stand in the pocket and make unhurried decisions.
Vince Verhei: Here is what happened every time Atlanta snapped the ball on third down tonight.
Tom Gower: Guess: DVOA says Atlanta was fortunate to be in it.
Aaron Schatz: OK, I'm home now. I'm still in shock. I think I'm in more shock than I was two years ago because it seemed obvious the Falcons would win this for like an hour and a half. Two touchdowns AND two two-point conversions in 8:24 AND winning the coin toss AND scoring a touchdown so Matt Ryan didn't even get the ball? The odds are astronomical.
However, Vince said we should have seen the Patriots' second-half rally coming. Well, I DID see the rally coming. I said: I think the Patriots can score enough points to catch up but I don't think they can stop the Falcons from scoring more points to keep the lead. It's not the Patriots' second-half rally that shocks me. It's the disintegration of the Falcons' offense that shocks me. The sacks, Ryan holding the ball too long, incomplete passes on third down. The Patriots pass rush stepped up and the Falcons offense shut down except for the running backs (the Freeman catch-and-run for 39 yards, Tevin Coleman getting 9 yards on two carries to set up third-and-1 on the 36 that Tom mentioned) and Julio Jones. And let it never be forgotten that Julio Jones made big-time plays on the biggest stage. Let us swear to remember it when it comes time for him to be debated in that Hall of Fame debating room. If I can get in that room someday, I will not let anyone count this loss against him.
And the play calling once the Falcons got into field goal range with 4:40 left. I can't add anything that hasn't already been said. It doesn't seem to make sense, especially given you had a backup right tackle in there.
I think Tom might be right about DVOA, in large part because of the pick-six. In DVOA, pick-sixes are penalized based on the average return of a pick given a) the location of the pick and b) the length of the pass. There's a lot of randomness in turnover returns. Pick-sixes are mostly about where the players are positioned when you throw the interception. If there's a player running a shorter route on that side, he tackles Alford and the Falcons still have to go 60 yards to score.
On the other hand, DVOA is an efficiency metric, and the Falcons were actually pretty efficient... on first and second down. They just couldn't convert the third downs. The Patriots ran 93 plays and the Falcons ran only 46. Just seems crazy.
In many ways this reminds me of the 2006 AFC Championship Game. That game was also 21-3 at one point. That game also saw one of the greatest quarterbacks ever throw a pick-six for the third touchdown to make it 21 points. It went into halftime at 21-6, not 21-3, but I remember 10 years ago, Pats fans thought that was over. Peyton Manning was absolutely ass in the first half of that game. He came back and was great in the second half. People mentioned it on Twitter tonight, and I said, OK, but I can't see the Falcons slowing down the way the 2006 Patriots did, because they have Julio Jones instead of Reche Caldwell. But that wasn't enough.
I know a lot of people hate the Patriots. I know a lot of people think Patriots fans are obnoxious. And, you know, a lot of them are. And I'm sorry. I wish they would not act like douchebags. And screw the bandwagon jumpers, those people we all know who only love the best teams in each sport. ("I love the Patriots, and the Golden State Warriors, and the Yankees!") But really, that's not most of us. Most of us are just proud of where we grew up, and we root for this team because we grew up here, just like people root for the Falcons if they grew up in Atlanta and root for the Browns if they grew up in Cleveland and root for the Eagles if they grew up in South Jersey. Most of us understand how lucky we are to be on this run. We didn't bring in Belichick and Brady. We didn't intercept the pass two years ago. We didn't psychically cause this comeback tonight. We didn't hire Theo Epstein. We didn't sign David Ortiz as a free agent. We didn't hire Danny Ainge. We didn't trade for Kevin Garnett. We didn't build a Stanley Cup champion. We are honestly just along for the ride. We are very, very lucky. But it feels freakin' amazing.
343 comments, Last at 14 Feb 2017, 10:50am by intel_chris