The New England Patriots have done it again: for the third time in the past five years and the sixth overall, they are the last team standing and the winners of the Super Bowl. The team’s victory came after a defensive effort for the ages that saw New England shut down the high-flying Los Angeles Rams offense all night long: it was limited to only 260 yards of offense and a mere three points. It was a dominating effort as cornerback Stephon Gilmore said after the game.
“We just played fast,” the second-year Patriot said. “We knew it wasn’t going to be perfect. We believe in each other and we stuck with each other. We’ve been doing that all year.” Gilmore is not wrong, especially when it comes to the playoffs: New England shut down three high-flying offenses in the Los Angeles Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs and now the Rams — with the final game the high-water mark.
“It’s hard work. We practice hard, we study, we are a team, so I’m not surprised at all,” said Gilmore. So how does he feel about being world champion for the first time since entering the league as a first round pick by the Buffalo Bills in 2012? “It’s a great feeling. I mean, we are the best team in the world right now. It’s a great feeling and a lot of hard work.”
Quarterback Tom Brady had a similar reaction. “I can’t believe it, what a year,” the six-time champion said before turning his focus to the Patriots’ outstanding defensive effort. “How about our defense, man? How about our defense? They played unbelievable, challenged all these plays and we finally had a touchdown drive there in the fourth quarter. Took us awhile, but you’ve got to grind it out and find a way.”
“It probably won’t sink in for a very, very long time,” said Brady when talking about winning his record-breaking sixth title. “I’m just so blessed to play with the best teammates through the years from our ‘01 team and all the way through now. I love all those guys. That’s what makes this special: it’s a brotherhood. All these relationships are so important in my life and I can’t cherish it enough. It’s going to be a celebration tonight!”
Wide receiver Julian Edelman, voted the game’s most valuable player, had a similar reaction as his quarterback. “It just feels great to win the game,” he said, also stressing the thought of the team. “We had a really good in-shape team. The hogs upfront, Sony [Michel] played a big game, made some big plays. Rex [Burkhead] had big plays, Gronk making big plays. Our defense is outstanding, look at that! That was unbelievable! We have a resilient bunch and it’s unbelievable.”
What did the aforementioned Sony Michel had to say about the praise coming his way after scoring the game’s only touchdown? “It’s not really about me, it’s about this team,” said the rookie running back who finished the Super Bowl with 18 carries for 94 yards and the score. “Theses boys, they take pride. They took me under their wing and I just appreciate them. I’m thankful, I’m blessed.”
“This is unbelievable. This is amazing. This is surreal. Everything we’ve been through this season... just unreal,” added tight end Rob Gronkowski, who finished the game with 87 receiving yards on six catches and the big play that set up Michel’s touchdown in the fourth quarter. “We won the game, that was the best team win. This is surreal, another celebration. This is amazing.”
“It’s unbelievable. This team’s work ethic, resolve, that’s what this game was. We just kept playing off of each other. We kept relying on each other and we kept trusting each other. At the end, we made enough plays together to win. That’s what is is about for us,” said safety Devin McCourty after the game. McCourty, of course, won the game alongside his brother Jason who joined New England via trade this offseason.
“It’s the best feeling ever. He’s done everything right this year, he’s been an inspiration to every guy. I think every guy on this team wanted to win for him,” said Devin McCourty about the game. After 60 hard-fought minutes, the team did just that. Win for Jason McCourty. Win for Devin McCourty. Win for each other — for a sixth time in franchise history.