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Rich Hill’s instant observations from Super Bowl LI written before Tom Brady’s epic comeback

I counted my chickens way too early.

Folks, I goofed. I started to write up my post-game articles early in the third quarter after the New England Patriots fell behind the Atlanta Falcons 28-3. I thought the game was over and I counted out Touchdown Tom.

How foolish.

Below are my unedited thoughts about the game roughly halfway through the fourth quarter. I made Brian write up his instant observations because I was busy, but also because I was tainted with these thoughts. The Patriots saw my computer screen and flipped the script on each one of these points.

Enjoy my stupidity.

Here are our immediate takeaways from the New England Patriots XXXX loss to the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI.

Patriots offensive line played worst game of the season

None of the Patriots offensive linemen played a good game and it seemed like all five were beaten for a sack at some point of the game. QB Tom Brady was battered the entire game and multiple drives stalled due to poor blocking up front leading to pressure or hits on Brady. They couldn’t defend a stunt all night.

The Patriots were also unable to run the ball for most of the day, with the running backs combining for 61 yards on 19 carries (3.21 yards per carry). RB LeGarrette Blount didn’t help the line that much, but he was also hit at the line of scrimmage far too often.

Patriots needed a playmaker on offense

The Patriots needed a big game from WR Julian Edelman, but he missed six straight targets after the start of the second quarter, deep into the fourth quarter, and the offense needed to come from elsewhere. This was a game where the loss of TE Rob Gronkowski was glaring.

WR Malcolm Mitchell and RB James White stepped up in the second half, as did TE Martellus Bennett, but they were unable to take over the game. WR Chris Hogan was a non-factor for most of the game, as was RB Dion Lewis. The Patriots top offensive players were nowhere to be found.

Tom Brady left a lot of plays on the field

Brady was the reason why the Patriots were competitive in the second half. He was also a big reason why the offense struggled in the first half. A pick-six is inexcusable as Brady threw more interceptions in the postseason than he did all regular season. He couldn’t hit a wide open Edelman crossing the field. Brady was good. He needed to be great.

The Patriots run defense was embarrassing

Falcons RB Devonta Freeman gained 75 rushing yards on just 11 attempts and added a huge 39-yard reception late in the fourth quarter that almost ended the game. The Falcons speed was too much for the Patriots to handle as the defensive linemen struggled to get off their blocks and force the Falcons rushers to run towards the sideline.