The New England Patriots have never been afraid of using unconventional methods to achieve their goals: from their personnel decisions to their play calling, trying to use all avenues is what has helped the become the lone dynasty of the NFL’s salary cap era. It might also be what could help them add to their trophy case against the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl 53 later today.
In past title games and playoff contests in general, the Patriots haven not shied away from calling trick plays to swing momentum to their side — and it would not be a surprise if the same was called upon today in a key situation. According to NESN’s Zack Cox, New England has tried numerous such plays in past Super Bowls:
Super Bowl 36: Pass attempt from Kevin Faulk
Super Bowl 38: Touchdown pass from Tom Brady to Mike Vrabel; direct snap two-point conversion to Kevin Faulk
Super Bowl 39: Touchdown pass from Tom Brady to Mike Vrabel
Super Bowl 51: Pass attempt from Julian Edelman to Dion Lewis; direct snap two-point conversion to James White
Super Bowl 52: Pass attempt from Danny Amendola to Tom Brady
While not all of the plays worked — the Kevin Faulk pass was aborted, the throws in the last two Super Bowls both fell incomplete — New England’s offensive play callers whether they be named Charlie Weis or Josh McDaniels have never shied away from going to the trickery well. And this has not been an approach exclusively used in Super Bowls, just think of the Edelman-to-Amendola play in the 2014 divisional playoffs.
So why might the Patriots go back to this plan today? For one, they have used trickery already this year. Going beyond rather classic misdirection plays like jet sweeps or end arounds, New England also had wide receiver Julian Edelman attempt two passes this season. In week nine against the Green Bay Packers he threw a cross-field pass to running back James White on a 37-yard screen. One week later, he hit Brady for a 6-yard gain.
Edelman, the former Kent State quarterback, has attempted four passes in his career with two of them coming in the playoffs. And even though he might not try another throw tonight, the possibility should be enough to keep the Rams on high alert whenever he touches the ball on a backwards pass. But all in all, you shouldn’t be surprised if New England dialed up some form of trickery against Los Angeles.