Welcome to Boston.com’s Sports Q, our daily conversation, initiated by you and moderated by Chad Finn, about a compelling topic in Boston sports. Here’s how it works: You submit questions to Chad through Twitter, Facebook, email, and any other outlet you prefer. He’ll pick one each weekday to answer, then we’ll take the discussion to the comments. Chad will stop by several times per day to navigate. But you drive the conversation.
Was that the best defensive performance the Patriots have had in all of their Super Bowl appearances? — Alex M.
Well, it was definitely better than last year’s. And Malcolm Butler didn’t play this Sunday, either.
I think it’s the second-best, and that’s a pretty easy decision to come to. Holding a Rams team that had a shot to eclipse 600 points on the season Sunday to just three was a feat no one predicted, other than perhaps those inside the Patriots’ locker room.
(Relatedly, Dont’a Hightower now has had three spectacular Super Bowl performances in his career, against the Seahawks, Falcons, and now the Rams. Heck of a big-game resume.)
But I still have to give it to the Patriots’ defense in Super Bowl 36 against the previous incarnation of offensively explosive Rams. Yeah, the Rams woke up in that game and tied it at 17 late. But part of the reason the Rams struggled Sunday is because Jared Goff wasn’t ready for the moment, the Patriots knew it, and they exposed it.
In Super Bowl 36, they did against a Rams team that had won the previous season’s Super Bowl, and were led by Kurt Warner. While he had just started 27 regular-season games at that point, he was a seen-it-all professional football veteran at age 30 who already had proved his mettle and poise in a Super Bowl. Goff has a long way to go to get to where Warner was in ’01.
So what we saw Sunday was the second-best defensive performance by a Patriots team in a Super Bowl. Ty Law and his pals from ’01 still hold that distinction in Patriots history.
But what does everyone else think? What is the greatest team defensive performance in Patriots Super Bowl history? I’ll hear you in the comments.