Wade Phillips, Sean McVay

USA Today

The Sequence

If you have the Pats down, finish them.

February 04, 2019 - 10:41 am

The thing that is going to eat the Rams for a long time is that game was there for them. It was there for the taking. And if one or two things go differently on offense, we aren’t talking about a Bill Belichick Masterpiece, we’re talking about a Wade Phillips Masterpiece.

Because Son of Bum was working one. And the Rams knew he would. That’s why they went with the ultimate brass move of winning the coin flip and deciding to defer. Are you crazy? That was something that I’d been talking about all week off the air with some of my CBS colleagues. No way you win the flip and defer, right? You have to take the ball. You have to get your offense out on the field first. 

I mean, I know everyone likes the idea of having the ball to start the second half, but did you see what the Patriots did to the Chargers and Chiefs with those time-draining, soul-sucking opening drives? There’s no way you allow them to do that again, right? 

The Rams did. And then on the first drive, they did this.

Son of Bum was throwing some seriously different looks at Brady. Was it man? Was it zone? Was it man that looked like zone or zone that looked like man? How many times have you seen Tom Brady that confused? How many times have you seen him burning time outs like that?  

And then it all changed. A two drive sequence that pretty much decided the game. Cleveland has The Drive and The Fumble. Now, Los Angeles has "The Sequence." 

Early in the fourth quarter, LA starts a drive on their own seven. They move the ball a little and then pick up a first down on a 16-yard pass to Brandin Cooks that takes them to their own 43. Then Todd Gurley chases that with a 13-yard run. Now their offense is getting momentum.

Except it’s not, because it’s called back for a hold on center John Sullivan. I know it’s fashionable to bash the officials and I’m not going to do that here. But that is a classic case of “you could call holding on every play.” And on this play they did. Erases a 13-yard run on first down. Erases the momentum.

And then on first and 20, Goff scrambles to the right and is drilled by Jonathan Jones as he goes out of bounds. No flag. That wasn’t Nickell Robey-Coleman on the scale of obvious calls, but I’ve definitely seen that flagged. A lot. Especially in the age of protecting unprotected players, and especially in the age of protecting unprotected quarterbacks. 

And if you’re a Rams fan and you’re pissed that your guys got called for holding and didn’t get the flag on the next play, I hear you.

But it’s about to get worse. Because on the play after that, when Goff went deep to Cooks for an incompletion, Josh Reynolds was wide open over the middle for a first down and maybe a touchdown. 

Wound meet salt. Salt, wound.

Because the moment the Rams punted the ball away, you knew what was going to happen. You knew the Patriots were going to score. You knew they were about to pretty much put the game away. In other words, you knew the Patriots were going to Patriot. And they did.

That’s what they do. You give them a chance and they take it. 

And there is nothing more Patriot that the three play sequence where they ran the same play three straight times to three different guys. 

Brady to Edelman for 13 yards

Brady to Burkhead for 7 yards

Brady to Gronk for 29 yards. And suddenly they’re at the 2-yard line. 

Three plays, 49 yards. Three plays, three different guys, the same result. And one play later, this. Sony Michel scored the game’s only touchdown.

The fat lady didn’t start singing at that moment, but she was doing vocal exercises. Because that was pretty much ballgame. There was still time left, but it sure felt like LA’s hope left the building on that drive. That was a soul-crusher. They battled for three plus quarters and kept the Patriots out of the end zone, then gave up three straight receptions and just eating up yards like that? 

I’m not saying the Patriots won the game because of those calls on LA’s drive. Definitely not. They won because of what they did on their drive. 

And they won because they responded to that situation better than the Rams did. A borderline call that was made and a borderline call that wasn’t made. Both went the Patriots way. And the Rams chased that with missing a guy who was wide open. Just truly a brutal sequence for the Rams and a perfect sequence for the Patriots. They got an opening, they got a break, and they took it.

And for all of you who say that the Patriots never get any breaks, that’s a ridiculous take. And for all of you who say the Patriots are the only ones who get breaks, that’s ridiculous too. To paraphrase Patrick Ewing, the reason why it feels like the Patriots get so many breaks, is because they take advantage of so many breaks. 

Nobody does that better. If you are in the process of choking them out, you better finish them. And that’s in the course of a play, a drive, a game, and a season. If you have them down, finish them. Do not miss your chance, because they will come back and they will kill you. Which is exactly what they did to the Rams.  

And that’s exactly why they have six rings. And that’s exactly why you’re going to hear Pats fans talking about those six rings from here to eternity. If you thought that crowd was insufferable before, they’re about to find a new level now. If you thought Pats fans were arrogant and annoying when their guys had five, do you really think they’re going to dial it down now that they’ve reached six? Hell no.