It’s the ultimate Victory Monday for the New England Patriots: the team won the Super Bowl yesterday by beating the Los Angeles Rams 13-3 in a game dominated by defense pretty much from start to finish. And while the contest might not live up to the high-scoring beauty standards established by NFL offenses this season, it still saw plenty of memorable performances, especially on the Patriots’ side.
In fact, we can name all 53 players on the team’s active roster as winners today — and that’s not it. We also need to point out the 10 practice squad players. And the 17 men who ended the year on reserve lists but will still get Super Bowl rings however small or big their contributions to the 2018 Patriots were. And that is still not all the winners: there is also the ownership and the coaching staff, the personnel and scouting departments, the equipment crew and those working in all the other behind-the-scenes jobs.
All in all, were are speaking of 114 additional people (according to the Patriots media guide) who can call themselves victors after yesterday’s game. Together with the 80 players, we get 194 men and women who in some way or another contributed to this latest of the Patriots’ championships. Every single one of them is a winner — hence the title of the article you are currently reading.
But of course, you probably also expect the usual recognition of the game’s standout performers. Fret not, here is the list similar to the ones that get published after every game:
Winner: CB Stephon Gilmore
Even before his enormous forth quarter interception, Gilmore was playing lights out. Going mostly against ex-Patriot Brandin Cooks, the All-Pro cornerback was outstanding and playing a near-perfect game. It was the type of performance that makes you go “yep, he’s worth ever cent of the multi-million dollar free agency contract he signed last offseason.” In short: Gilmore was fabulous.
Winner: WR Julian Edelman
Edelman won the MVP award for playing an excellent game even when the rest of the offense failed to hit its groove. As quarterback Tom Brady’s favorite target, the 32-year old finished the day with 10 catches for 141 yards and was at times single-handedly responsible for moving the offense down the field due to his ability to get open quickly and find soft spots in coverage.
Winner: ST Matthew Slater & P Ryan Allen
In a game that was one consistent field position battle, the Patriots’ special teamers were able to keep the entire club in a solid spot. Two men in particular stood out: punter Ryan Allen and gunner Matthew Slater. The former displayed some pin-point accuracy in placing his kicks, while the latter was usually the first man down the field to either make a tackle or down the football in favorable position.
Winners: LB Dont’a Hightower & LB Kyle Van Noy
Prior to the season, New England’s linebacker corps was seen as an area to address. After the Super Bowl, those offseason questions look silly now: Hightower and Van Noy were outstanding against the Rams, combing for three of the Patriots’ four sacks as well as six quarterback hits. The duo looked good against the pass and when attacking downhill, and also helped the team keep the L.A. running game in check all night.
Winner: The offensive line
It certainly was not perfect, but it was still a very good outing for the Patriots offensive line against one of the best — if not the best — defensive lines in football. Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh combined for only two quarterback hits all day long, and while they had their moments against the run New England’s blockers kept them in check and away from Tom Brady. It was yet another high-quality performance by Dante Scarnecchia’s unit.
As noted above, there are far more winners: from Rob Gronkowski to Sony Michel to Danny Shelton to Devin McCourty to everybody else on the team or coaching staff. However, those seven are the ones that might have the best case for the MVP title that was ultimately won by Julian Edelman. But in the end, all that matters is that the Patriots have earned another trophy — as a team consisting of 194 individuals.