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Falcons Super Bowl News

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NBC NEWS


Belichick: "I didn't even know" the Falcons won

 

WXIA

WXIA  


 

FOXBORO, Ma – New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and his team didn’t know the Atlanta Falcons had won Sunday’s NFC championship game before taking the field.

“We didn’t see the first game,” Belichick said in a news conference after the Patriots defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 36-17 to win the AFC championship.

“Obviously they’re a great team and had a great year, or they wouldn’t be playing in this game,” Belichick said.

The Falcons routed the Green Bay Packers on Sunday in a final score of 44-21, marking the franchise’s return to the Super Bowl after 18 years. It's the first Super Bowl appearance for the Falcons under owner Arthur Blank.

The Patriots, on the other hand, return to the Super Bowl for the second time in three years and are looking for their fifth title. Their last came in 2014.

 

Straight BS he knew, smfh

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For Falcons' Julio Jones, family bonds drive football mindset

 

Martin Rogers | USA TODAY Sports1:35 p.m. PT Jan. 23, 2017

vcstar.com  


 

ATLANTA – Just minutes after Julio Jones, foot injury and all, had torched the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night, he stood in the tunnel of the Georgia Dome with a group of friends and family.

They all looked happy, much as you would expect after the Falcons wide receiver’s two touchdowns and 180 yards spearheaded a 44-21 triumph that sent Atlanta to the Super Bowl.

But none of them looked surprised, least of all his mother Queen and his brother Phillip.

“He told me on the day his daddy left, when he was 5 years old, that it was all going to be OK,” Queen Marvin, Jones’ mother, told USA TODAY Sports. “He was going to be a football player and everything was going to be OK for us.”

MORE COVERAGE:

Back then Marvin naturally dismissed the prediction as nothing more than childhood chatter, yet Jones’ career has panned out even better than the stuff of boyhood dreams.

This performance, highlighted by a swashbuckling 73-yard touchdown catch and run to make it 31-0 early in the second half, was a natural extension of a career that has seen him dominate at every level and prompted the Falcons to give up a treasure trove of draft picks for him in 2011.

“He has been doing that since he was 5 years old,” Phillip Jones, 33, said of his brother’s weekend postseason classic. “It is normal for him. It didn’t surprise me. They don’t know how to stop him because he’”

Phillip Jones has one arm — his left had to be surgically removed after being the victim of a shotgun wound in Gulf Shores, Ala., in May 2014.

Along with quarterback Matt Ryan, Julio might currently be the most loved man in these parts for the remarkable efforts that have taken the Falcons to within one win of the first Super Bowl title in franchise history.

Yet among regulars at the Georgia Dome, Phillip is not far behind him in the popularity stakes. As he waited in the bowels of the soon to be demolished arena he was constantly greeted with hugs and well wishes from familiar faces.

“It has been difficult for (Phillip) to deal with,” Marvin said. “When he looks back and his arm is not there, it is hard just like it would be for anybody and it is hard not to get down about it. It is hard for me to see it too because he is my son.

“But when Julio plays like that it lifts him up. They are brothers and they were always together. You can see what it does for him when Julio makes a run and a catch or something like that. It makes him happy and it makes all of us happy. He can feed off the excitement a little bit.”

Although six years apart, the Jones brothers have always had the tightest of bonds and Julio’s pride at his sibling’s resiliency after the shooting is obvious to see.

“That’s my brother,” the wide receiver said. “We have grown up together going through the ups and downs – just being there for one another. He is fine. Nothing has hindered him from doing him being who he is. He is my brother and I love him. He has always been a supporter for me growing up, him being there for me when I was a young'n until now. He is still there supporting me so that is the bond we have.”

Phillip Jones is not a shy man and has never been afraid to give Julio advice. Perhaps the most vital part, the bit that shined most strongly against the Packers, is to always attack the moment.

“It felt amazing (to celebrate with my family),” Julio added. “Those are my supporters. That’s why I do it. From an early age, my mom, my brother, my stepfather, everybody. Those people have basically molded me into who I am today – the way I go out there, attack the game, and take nothing for granted.”

A Super Bowl showdown with the New England Patriots awaits in a little less than two weeks. But according to Phillip, his brother’s signature composure will not be affected by the opportunity to etch his name in the annals of NFL history.

“That don’t matter to him,” Phillip said. “It can be any game. A game when we were kids, high school, college or the NFL. He is going to get it done. People say (Sunday was) a big game and that. To him it is just another game to do what he always does. He just plays the game, every game is the same to him.

“Even the Super Bowl.”

Follow Martin Rogers on Twitter @mrogersUSAT

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Katie Levitre gets game ball for watching game in labor

 

SN Staff

ESPN.com | 4:19 PM ET


 

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn revealed an unusual first-time winner of a game ball after Sunday's NFC Championship Game for showing the type of grit he expects from his players.

Left guard Andy Levitre's wife, Katie, earned national recognition after sitting through the Falcons' 36-20 divisional-playoff win over Seattle despite going through labor.

As the Falcons prepare for the Super Bowl after Sunday's 44-21 win over the Green Bay Packers, Quinn on Monday made sure to recognize her dedication by awarding her a game ball.

"We gave Andy Levitre's wife a game ball because it was a week late, and we put 'ultimate toughness' on it," Quinn said. "She had gone into labor during the game, but waited it out. So we thought that was definitely worth the game ball. ... She doesn't know that yet, so if she's watching, Andy will bring that today."

Levitre told Fox 5 in Atlanta that he didn't know his wife was in labor until after the game, when a team staffer told him.

"I went and showered up, came outside, we went home for like an hour, went to the hospital and then she gave birth," Levitre told Fox 5.

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'Nobody can stop us but us:' Julio Jones, Falcons fly into Super Bowl LI

 

ESPN.com

ESPN.com | 9:26 PM ET


 

ATLANTA -- Aaron Rodgers doesn't let you feel comfortable, so even with a 24-0 halftime lead the Atlanta Falcons weren't. The first 30 minutes of Sunday's NFC Championship Game couldn't possibly have gone better for them, but nobody was throwing any parties yet.

"No. 12 isn't human," one Falcons official said at halftime, invoking Rodgers in an effort to keep from prematurely celebrating an inevitable victory over him and the Green Bay Packers.

That was a view from the suite level, but on the sideline it felt different. The way the world perceives the Falcons differs greatly from the way the Falcons' players perceive themselves. When their 44-21 victory was in the books and they wore white caps proclaiming them NFC champions, the Falcons shrugged at the memory of their halftime lead.

"Our mentality was just to keep scoring," wide receiver Julio Jones said. "Nobody can stop us but us."

It was Jones who, moments after halftime, drove home that very point with a thunderous 73-yard metaphor.

Lined up in the left slot with Packers cornerback Ladarius Gunter on him, Jones broke off the line violently, faking inside before swimming outside of Gunter, who gives away 19 pounds in that matchup. Gunter wrapped his right arm around Jones' waist. Jones saw the yellow flag out of the corner of his eye, so he knew the worst-case scenario was defensive holding, but he wanted more.

 


Jones shed Gunter and caught Matt Ryan's pass in stride, about 12 yards beyond the line of scrimmage at the Falcons' 38. To his credit, Gunter kept after Jones and just about got him. (This fact surprised Jones after the game when it was relayed to him that "the first guy" and "the second guy" in the play he was describing were the same.) Gunter grabbed Jones' left arm with his left hand and NEARLY got his right arm around Jones' waist, but he did not, and Jones was off down the sideline.

There was one man left to beat, but to hear Jones tell it he was already beaten.

"The last guy, he didn't have a chance," Jones said, "because there was too much room between me and the line, so he couldn't really guess what I was going to do."

The correct guess for poor Damarious Randall was "knock me to the ground with a stiff arm that looked as if it could break my neck." Jones did this around the Green Bay 30, and Randall flopped forward onto the ground, whence he could only watch as Jones raced into the end zone for the touchdown that made it 31-0.

"I mean -- we ain't trying to play with you and let you hang around," Jones said. "Our mentality was that it was 0-0 and we had to get points. Kyle Shanahan did a great job staying aggressive there."

Shanahan is the Falcons' offensive coordinator and the league leader in Lifelong Dreams Come True over the past week and a half. In widely reported agreement to become the next coach of the San Francisco 49ers, Shanahan will first get to draw up one more Falcons game plan and try to win Super Bowl LI with it.

Of course, to watch the Falcons play offense right now is to wonder why Shanahan would ever want to go anywhere. He has Ryan, the presumptive league MVP. He has Jones, a true game-changing superstar worthy of the five draft picks the Falcons surrendered nearly six years ago so they could draft him. Jones had nine catches for 180 yards and two touchdowns Sunday, and it was basically a typical NFC Championship Game performance for him. He caught 11 passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns in the game four years ago, when the Falcons lost to the 49ers.

But Shanahan's options run deeper than his marquee stars. Slot receiver Mohamed Sanu, speedster Taylor Gabriel, running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. Heck, Shanahan got fullback Patrick DiMarco open for a 31-yard gain to set up the first touchdown of Sunday's game. Shanahan and the Falcons right now are a perfect marriage -- a brilliant, creative offensive mind equipped with all the right pieces to bring his vision to scoreboard-rattling life.

"He's got a great feel for our personnel, the defense we're going against and what combination our guys can get into to go against it," Ryan said. "He's got a great feel during games, too. He's very detailed during the week and reacts well during games."

Ryan is likely to be the MVP, but as is often the case with Super Bowl teams, the Falcons are much more than just him. Atlanta scored 540 points in the regular season -- the same total as the 2000 "Greatest Show on Turf" St. Louis Rams. Only six teams in league history have ever scored more. They've added 80 so far in two playoff games, and a couple of weeks from now in Houston they will look to do the same thing to the Patriots that they just did to the formerly red-hot Packers.

"We ran into a buzzsaw," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said.

Nothing illustrated that more clearly than Julio Jones, blasting his way off the line, slithering out of a hold, shedding another tackle and then stiff-arming the last defender on the field into oblivion. The buzzsaw on that play -- the play that made it clear the Falcons weren't to be stopped on this day -- wore No. 11. And watching him wreck the Packers' secondary by himself on one breathtaking play reminded his teammates of their core belief.

"I just feel like nobody can stop us," Freeman said. "When we're clicking the way we're clicking, nobody can stop us. And, whew, we are clicking right now."

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Patriots to practice at UH, Falcons at Rice

 

Aaron Wilson | on January 24, 2017

Houston Chronicle | Tuesday, January 24


 

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When the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons arrive in Houston next week for Super Bowl LI preparations, they'll practice at separate college sites in advance of the big game.

The Patriots will set up for practices on the University of Houston campus, a homecoming for former Cougars standout linebacker Elandon Roberts and Patriots receivers coach and former Houston assistant coach Chad O'Shea.

Leading up to Super Bowl XXXVIII before a 32-29 win over the Carolina Panthers in 2004, the Patriots practiced at Rice before then moving over to the Texans' training facility.

"Really kind of right now the first thing is just, well, getting things up at the University of Houston, which that is important for us, but just kind of logistical stuff like taking care of various things with our team regarding tickets, transportation, hotel rooms, etc," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said during a conference call. "We have a staff that's doing a great job of handling that, but sometimes there are some decisions or situations that I have to get involved in or make a decision on. There are also certain obligations that we have from a league standpoint, and so just trying to schedule and coordinate some of that."

Meanwhile, the Falcons will practice at Rice University.


The Patriots have been installed as a three-point favorite by Las Vegas sports books. They have the top scoring defense in the NFL and the Falcons feature the highest-scoring offense in the league.

 

© Copyright 2017 Hearst Newspapers, LLC

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Falcons' team speed jumps out to Bill Belichick

 

Aaron Wilson | on January 24, 2017

Houston Chronicle | Tuesday, January 24


 

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Gleaning knowledge about opponents from countless hours of film study is one of the hallmarks of what makes New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick so successful.

In the case of the Atlanta Falcons leading up to Super Bowl LI, it doesn't take as practiced of a scouting eye as Belichick to discern their eye-popping explosiveness.

Just turn on the video and watch Falcons star wide receiver Julio Jones streaking down the field untouched and it's obvious that Atlanta has stockpiled a lot of speed on its roster.

"I'd say the stamp on the team, the thing that I would notice the most is just the speed, the team speed that the Falcons have," Belichick said during a Tuesday conference call. "They have a lot of fast guys. They're explosive offensively and they have a lot of athletic players on defense and they play a lot of guys, too. It's a lot different than Pittsburgh who basically played the same players the whole game.

"Atlanta rolls those guys in and out of there quite a bit and they have a lot of players in their front. They play quite a few players. They're fresh, they pursue hard, close space quickly and are aggressive. He's done a very good job with the Falcons football team. They're an impressive team to watch. They do a lot of things really well, but they look like they're faster than almost every team they play."

Belichick was extremely complimentary of the work that Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff has done in manufacturing an athletic roster. Dimitroff is a former Patriots national scout and director of college scouting who's been the Falcons' general manager since 2008.

A former grounds crew member of the original Cleveland Browns, Dimitroff got into Belichick's orbit when his father, Tom, worked for them as a scout.

"He's a football guy, so it's in the family," Belichick said. "He works hard. He knows the game. He did a real good job for us with skill players, defensive backs, receivers, linebackers, running backs, things like that.

One of the boldest moves Dimitroff has made was executing a blockbuster trade in 2011 to draft Jones sixth overall out of the University of Alabama, swapping five draft picks to acquire him.
Jones caught 83 passes for 1,409 yards and six touchdowns this season and has been equally dominant in the playoffs with 15 catches for 247 yards and three touchdowns.

For his career, the 6-3, 220-pound Jones has 497 catches for 7,610 yards and 40 touchdowns.

"He's one of the most dynamic players in the league," Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia said. "He can run underneath routes, has great speed, great hands, body control and is very, very strong. He gives you a lot of problems."

 

© Copyright 2017 Hearst Newspapers, LLC

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After you guys exposed our horrid secondary, I am on the Falcon bandwagon for the 2nd time in my life. Early 80's Steve Bartkowski to Billy Johnson & Alfred Jackson!! I hope you guys crush the Pats, good luck next Sunday.

kschreck likes this

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Here’s what happened the last time the Patriots and Falcons met

 

Cameron DaSilva @camdasilva

FOX Sports  


 

The New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons will meet in Super Bowl LI on Feb. 5 with Tom Brady seeking his fifth ring and Matt Ryan his first. Taking into account how different these two teams have been over the course of the past 15 years, it’s no surprise to see how little familiarity they have with each other. The Falcons and Patriots have played only 14 times in their history with New England leading the all-time series 7-6.

Their lack of matchups with each other is the result of the fact that they meet only once every four years – or every three years from 1977 to 2001. The last time these two teams played – Week 4 of the 2013 season – things were very different. Sure, the main cogs were still in place – Matt Ryan, Tom Brady, Julio Jones, Julian Edelman – but the rest of the rosters weren’t exactly similar to the way they look today.

For the Falcons, they have to hope the results are different, too.


The Patriots won that game 30-23, and not surprisingly, it was a shootout between Brady and Ryan. Brady completed 20 of 31 passes for 316 yards and two touchdowns, posting a stellar 119.8 rating. Ryan nearly went blow for blow with him despite throwing nearly twice as many passes, racking up 421 yards and two touchdowns with one interception.

The biggest difference between the two quarterbacks was not just the interceptions, but the big plays Brady was able to hit on. He completed two passes of 40-plus yards – one to Julian Edelman for 44 and another to Kenbrell Thompkins for 49 after a double-fake by Brady in the backfield.

Ryan also hit a pair of big plays to Julio Jones and Harry Douglas, but with 54 attempts, he averaged only 7.8 yards per attempt compared to Brady’s 10.2 mark. That doesn’t mean Ryan wasn’t impressive in his own right, but he did make a few mistakes. With the Falcons trailing 7-3 in the second quarter, Ryan badly missed a wide-open Roddy White on fourth-and-2 from the 7-yard line. It would have put the Falcons inside the 5 with a good chance of taking the lead.


In the fourth quarter, Ryan targeted Jones deep but was picked off by, wait for it, Aqib Talib. The interception all but sealed the Patriots’ win with New England already up 27-13. The Patriots tacked on a field goal to make it 30-13 before the Falcons scored two touchdowns to make the score seem much closer than it actually was.

Ryan has obviously grown and improved greatly since that game, and he’ll have to be better if the Falcons hope to upset the Patriots this time around. Missing open receivers on fourth down can’t happen, nor can turnovers while trailing to New England.

The stars of the game weren’t just at quarterback, though. Tony Gonzalez caught 12 passes for 149 yards and two touchdowns, while Julio Jones had 108 yards on six catches. Neither Devonta Freeman nor Tevin Coleman had been drafted by the Falcons at this point, as Jacquizz Rodgers was the lead back. He rushed for 32 yards on seven carries, while Jason Snelling added 26 yards on eight carries. Those were the only rushing attempts the Falcons had in that game, proving they’re a much more balanced offense this time around.

 

As for the Patriots, their ground attack was strong thanks to a familiar face. LeGarrette Blount rushed for 64 yards on just nine carries as the backup to Stevan Ridley, who had 53 yards on 11 carries. New England’s backfield resembled the one they have today with Blount being the power back and Ridley and Brandon Bolden providing a boost in the passing game – much like the way Dion Lewis does.

Brady hit eight different receivers in the victory, but only two had at least three catches: Julian Edelman (seven) and Kenbrell Thompkins (six). Rob Gronkowski was injured as he is for the Super Bowl, but the duo of Edelman and Thompkins made up for his absence. They combined for 245 yards and a touchdown on 20 total targets.

Things are noticeably different now than they were three years ago, but many of the key playmakers are still in place: Brady, Ryan, Blount, Edelman, Jones. On defense, the Patriots still have Devin McCourty and Dont’a Hightower, but the personnel has changed a great deal. The same goes for the Falcons with Robert Alford and Jonathan Babineaux remaining on the roster.

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Kyle Shanahan: Patriots defense the biggest challenge we've had this year

 

ESPN.com staff

ESPN.com | 10:09 PM ET


 

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, the architect behind the NFL's top-scoring offense, emphasized the tough challenge ahead against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI.

Shanahan was asked about some of the criticism the Patriots have gotten despite boasting the league's top scoring defense this season, allowing just 15.6 points per game.

"That blows my mind that people would be doing that,'' Shanahan said. "It's the best defense that we've seen in the NFL this year. The numbers show it. And watch the film and you see exactly why their numbers are the way they are. They are extremely tough to score against. That's why their No. 1 in the NFL. I believe only one game this year someone scored 30 points.

"They have very good players all around: players that are interchangeable that can be pass-rushers, that can be linebackers, that can be corners, that can be safeties. And they have an extremely good scheme. So, it's by far the biggest challenge we've had this year.''

Shanahan's offense, behind MVP frontrunner Matt Ryan, averaged 33.8 points per game during the regular season. In the playoffs, the Falcons scored 36 and 44 points, respectively, in wins over the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers.

During the regular season, the Falcons faced three Top 10 scoring defenses in the Seahawks (18.3 ppg.), Broncos (18.2 ppg.), and Chiefs (19.4 ppg.). They averaged 25 points in those games and went 1-2.

In contrast, the Patriots faced three Top 10 scoring offenses in the Arizona Cardinals (26.1 ppg.), Pittsburgh Steelers (24.9 ppg.), and Buffalo Bills (24.9 ppg.). The Patriots surrendered 19.5 points per game in those four games - including two matchups with the Bills - and went 3-1. New England gave up 16 and 17 points, respectively, in playoffs win over the Texans and Steelers leading up to the Super Bowl.

On the flipside, the Patriots had the third-best scoring offense in the league this year, averaging 27.6 points per game. The Falcons were 27th in the league in scoring defense, allowing 25.4 points per game.

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Falcons WR Julio Jones says he's not focusing on Malcolm Butler

 

Vaughn McClure

ESPN.com | 5:06 PM ET


 

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones downplayed any sort of one-on-one Super Bowl matchup with New England Patriots left cornerback Malcolm Butler, who said in 2012 at West Alabama that he wanted to "check" Jones one day.

 


Butler, who was signed by the Patriots in 2014 as an undrafted free agent, made a name for himself with a game-sealing interception of Seattle's Russell Wilson in the Patriots' 28-24 Super Bowl XLIX win.

"He's a great player," Jones said of Butler. "But at the end of the day, I've just got to focus on me, and getting me better, and just working with my teammates."

In the Patriots locker room Thursday, Butler talked about the tweet he posted back in 2012, when he was an unknown at West Alabama.

"Dreams do come true," the Patriots corner said. "That's not any trash talk or being cocky or anything. I had a vision."

But he added, "Talking never won the game. You gotta be about that action."

The All-Pro Jones, a first-round pick of the Falcons in 2011, out of Alabama, often hears challenges from various cornerbacks around the league.

Washington's Josh Norman, who faced Jones twice a year while with Carolina, said "Julio completes me" in reference to Jones being the ultimate challenge. Arizona's Patrick Peterson, who played at LSU, boasted about how he won his share of battles against Jones during their SEC days. Jones responded to Peterson's claim with 189 receiving yards and a touchdown in a 29-18 Falcons win over the Cardinals during the 2014 season.

Jones was asked how he reacts to cornerbacks yearning for the chance to cover him.

"My thing is, going into a game, it's a team game," Jones said. "It's just not me. I'm just going out there doing whatever it takes to win the game, to help my brothers out. It's not me against one other person. Next week it's the Atlanta Falcons against the New England Patriots."

Jones is fresh off a nine-catch, 180-yard, two-touchdown performance in the Falcons' 44-21 win over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game. He is the only player in NFL history to have two postseason games with at least 180 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

Jones didn't appear bothered at all last week after aggravating a toe sprain first suffered in December. He won't practice this week before the Falcons leave Sunday for the Super Bowl in Houston.

Jones was asked about his health at this stage.

"I feel great," he said.

ESPN's Mike Reiss contributed to this story.

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Falcons' defense has improved, but can they put pressure on Tom Brady?

Tom Brady has been historically good under pressure in Super Bowls. But oddly enough, four-man pressure has been an issue this postseason. Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
5:31 PM ET
  • ESPN Stats & Information

Getting pressure on Tom Brady will be crucial for the Atlanta Falcons Sunday in Super Bowl LI against the New England Patriots. Brady has been pressured on 21 percent of his dropbacks this postseason, second-lowest among the postseason quarterback.

Is Atlanta up for the challenge of taking down one of the most prolific quarterbacks in Super Bowl history? It won't be so simple.

Bring it home with four

One thing that hasn't worked historically is blitzing Brady. He’s completed 69 percent of his passes against the blitz in his Super Bowl career, with no interceptions. Brady had the second-best Total QBR (90.4) against the blitz this season, throwing 11 touchdowns with no picks.

Tom Brady In Super Bowl Career
  BLITZ NO BLITZ
Completion percentage 69.1 66.1
Yards per attempt 7.7 6.1
TD-INT 5-0 8-4
Sacks 2 9<<
>>6 by Giants

It’s not enough to just hold off on blitzing Brady, though. You also have to get pressure on him with your four-man rush.

In their two Super Bowl wins over the Patriots, the New York Giants recorded six sacks and generated pressure 28 percent of the time against Brady when sending four or fewer rushers. Brady was sacked three times and faced pressure 17 percent of the time against such rushes in his other four Super Bowl appearances combined.

The effect of generating pressure with a four-man rush?

Tom Brady Facing Four Or Fewer Pass Rushers - Super Bowl Career
  PRESSURED UNPRESSURED
Completion percentage 38.7 71.9
Yards per attempt 3.0 6.8
TD-INT 0-3 8-1

Falcons' pass rush improving

The Falcons ranked 27th in generating pressure during the regular season, doing so on just 25 percent of opponents' dropbacks. But in the postseason, however, the Falcons have pressured opposing quarterbacks on 45 percent of dropbacks despite quarterbacks spending an equal amount of time in the pocket.

Opposing QBs Vs. Falcons This Season
  REG SEASON PLAYOFFS
Average Time in Pocket 2.22 2.23
Pressure percentage 25 45

Twelve different Falcons defenders have put pressure on the quarterback this postseason, with Brooks Reed (8) and Vic Beasley (7) leading the way. They are blitzing more this postseason, one reason the pass rush has been more effective. They blitzed 17 percent of the time in the regular season, third-lowest in the NFL, compared to 36 percent this postseason.

But as we previously mentioned, the Falcons should be wary of blitzing Brady, based on Super Bowl history.

However, the Falcons’ improved pass rush goes beyond more blitzing. They’ve generated pressure on 40 percent of dropbacks sending four or fewer pass rushers this postseason. They only generated pressure on such rushes 23 percent of the time during the regular season, on par with the league average (24).

Best way to pressure Brady?

Brady isn’t easy to pressure, but the best way to take him down might be from the interior. No team allowed a higher percentage of their sacks to players lining up as an interior defensive lineman or inside linebacker this season than the Patriots, at 44 percent, higher than the Pittsburgh Steelers (43), Baltimore Ravens (42) and Kansas City Chiefs (42).

Getting pressure up the middle has worked during the playoffs, too. Brady has been pressured 18 times this postseason, and while half have been from an interior rush and half from an edge rush, the results from the interior have been most damaging. On his nine dropbacks against interior pressure, Brady has taken four sacks and completed just two of five passes.

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