For a Rams victory, Aaron Donald and company must harass Tom Brady
Jaime C. Harris | 1/31/2019, 1:11 p.m.
Plain and simple, if the Los Angeles Rams don’t put consistent pressure on New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady this Sunday in Super Bowl LIII (53) at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta (6:30 p.m.), the Patriots will end the evening holding the Vince Lombardi Trophy awarded to the winning team.
The Giants provided the blueprint for defeating Brady, masterful head coach Bill Belichik and the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII (42) in 2008 and again in Super Bowl XLVI (46) four years later. Disrupting the rhythm and timing of Brady was the key, not allowing him to sit in the pocket and with surgical precision dissect the second and third levels of their defense.
The Giants sacked Brady five times in their 17-14 Super Bowl XLII victory, and although they recorded only two sacks in winning Super Bowl XLVI 21-17, they were able to hurry him on crucial third down possessions. Last year, in Super Bowl LII (52), the most significant play of the game was a strip-sack of Brady by Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham with two minutes, 16 seconds remaining in the game, leading to an Eagles field goal that would put them ahead 41-33, the game’s final score.
This postseason, the Patriots unheralded offensive line has not given up a sack in two games against the San Diego Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs led the NFL in sacks during the regular season but could not generate any pressure on Brady in the AFC Championship Game. The Rams’ head coach Sean McVay and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips are relying on their formidable defensive front led by tackle Aaron Donald, arguably the best defensive player in football, to penetrate the heretofore impenetrable Patriots protection.
“We’ll get to him eventually,” said Donald, who topped the league in sacks this year with 20.5, during a session with the media in Atlanta Monday. “[We] just can’t get frustrated and keep doing our job. We’ve got a great secondary, and they’re going to do their job and lock people down. They’re going to give us opportunities. They’re going to make him hold the ball, and we’re going to have opportunities to get after him. We just got to get him down.”
Although the Rams will likely get their hands on Brady intermittently, the Patriots’ line will be good enough and do their part in helping their team earn a 33-24 victory.