Here’s the Report Card from the Patriots’ 34-28 come-from-behind overtime win over the Falcons in Super Bowl LI:
Pass offense: Matt Ryan completed 17 of 23 passes for 284 yards and two touchdowns. He was also under duress as he was sacked five times and hit eight times. The passing attacked stalled in the second half. Julio Jones had four catches for 84 yards and was not able to dominate the game. Ryan moved the ball around to the other receivers, tossing touchdown passes to tight end Austin Hooper and running back Tevin Coleman. Ryan’s key strip fumble by Dont’a Hightower in the fourth quarter ignited New England’s rally. Grade C-minus.
Rush offense: Devonta Freeman had 11 rushes for 75 yards and Coleman rushed seven times for 29 yards before leaving the game with an ankle injury. The Falcons ran toss sweeps, trying to get outside on New England’s slower linebackers. It also allowed them to run away from center Alex Mack, who was playing with fractured fibula. Grade C.
Rush defense: The Falcons defensive front shut down running back LeGarrette Blount and stripped a fumble from him. The Falcons held the Patriots’ running backs to 33 yards on 13 carries in the first half. With the run game shut down, the Patriots relied on their passing attack, which turned the game around. They finished with 104 rushing yards in 25 tries. Grade B.
Special teams: Falcons kickoff specialist/punter Matt Bosher boomed his kickoffs and placed two 55-yard punts inside the Pats’ 20. New England’s Shea McClellin was called for illegal formation when he tried to jump over long snapper Josh Harris on an extra point attempt. After the penalty, Matt Bryant made the kick to put the Falcons up 14-0. Guarding a 28-9 lead, Falcons linebacker LaRoy Reynolds recovered an onsides kick in the third quarter. Grade B.
Coaching: Coach Dan Quinn and his coordinators had masterful plans to attack the Patriots. The offense ran the ball outside and once the offense line settled down, Ryan was able to move the ball while running some tempo. The Falcons defense shut down the run and pummeled Brady, who was clearly rattled in the first half. But once he got into a groove, he attacked nickel back Brian Poole and relied on White to cut up the Falcons’ young defense. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has some questionable play calls in the fourth quarter and Quinn should have waited to throw the challenge flag on a late catch by Julian Edelman. The call was upheld and he cost the offense its final timeout. Grade C-minus.