That is, at least for the most part.
On a night in which the Patriots did not punt and Tom Brady passed for a (breaking-his-own-record) 505 yards, three names were on the receiving end of 396 of those yards.
The three to make up that 78 percent were Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola and Chris Hogan, and what they did had also never been done before.
Each of those three players had a 100-yard receiving game in the biggest game of the year.
Check back through the Super Bowl archives and you’ll fail to find another 100-plus trio, according to NFL Research. Check back through the rest of the games played this season as well, and you won’t find such an occurrence in the same week, from the same team.
Per Football Database, 14 games this year saw teammates hit the 100-yard receiving mark. The Los Angeles Rams, Oakland Raiders, Houston Texans, Seattle Seahawks, Detroit Lions, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints accomplished the feat with a pair of receivers, once apiece, from the opener through the conference title round.
TWO 100-YARD RECEIVERS IN 2017
- Week 3: Rams’ Robert Woods, Sammy Watkins
- Week 4: Chargers’ Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams
- Week 7: Raiders’ Amari Cooper, Jared Cook
- Week 8: Texans’ Will Fuller, DeAndre Hopkins; Seahawks’ Tyler Lockett, Paul Richardson
- Week 9: Lions’ Golden Tate, Marvin Jones
- Week 12: Jets’ Jermaine Kearse, Robby Anderson
- Week 13: Jets’ Jermaine Kearse, Robby Anderson; Steelers’ Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown
- Week 14: Chargers’ Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams
- Week 17: Buccaneers’ Chris Godwin, Adam Humphries
- Week 18: Panthers’ Christian McCaffrey, Greg Olsen; Saints’ Ted Ginn, Michael Thomas
- Week 19: Steelers’ Antonio Brown, Vance McDonald
Their clubs went 9-5 in those particular matchups.
But three pass catchers in one? About the same winning odds as when safety Duron Harmon has an interception – the Patriots were 13-0 in such games – or when the offense scores first-quarter points – New England hadn’t in their last seven Super Bowls before putting a field goal on Philadelphia.
Again, these things just hadn’t been done until Sunday in Minneapolis.
The Patriots hadn’t accrued more than one 100-yard receiver in a game over the course of 2017. The aerial attack had one, and no more than one 100-yard receiver, eight times.
Then came Week 22: the Super Bowl.
The loss of Brandin Cooks due to a concussion had a heavy hand in what followed against the Philadelphia Eagles. But Brady, a day removed from collecting his third AP NFL MVP, did not look downfield as if he were without the 1,000-yard wide receiver. Gronkowski, Amendola and Hogan did not run their routes as if the 23-year-old wasn’t still on the field running his, too.
Phillip Dorsett caught a pass, as did Rex Burkhead. And Super Bowl LI hero James White caught two. Yet when targeting the five-time All-Pro tight end and pair of onetime undrafted wideouts, Brady went 23-of-34 for 396 yards with three touchdowns versus the Eagles.
It was surgical. A flipped switch. Almost as much the recipients as it was the deliverer.
After catching one pass in the first half, Gronkowski finished New England’s 41-33 loss at U.S. Bank Stadium having accounted for 15 of the quarterback’s throws for nine completions, 116 yards and two touchdowns. Amendola finished having accounted for 11 of those throws for eight completions and 152 yards. And Hogan finished having accounted for eight, catching six for 128 yards and another score.
They were responsible for longs of 25, 50 and 43 yards, respectively.
For Gronkowski, it stood as his 30th career game in triple digits, when including both regular season and playoffs. For Amendola, it stood as his 10th, and with the ex-Eagle’s second-highest yardage output altogether. And for Hogan, it stood as his fourth and first since a 180-yard outburst versus Pittsburgh last January.
What does that all stand for now? Not much. But it could have stood for everything. And it shouldn’t be forgotten just because it didn’t.