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Super Bowl 51 was a tale of two halves. The first half featured the Atlanta Falcons consistently gaining yards through the air with Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. The second half featured Tom Brady’s quick passing game, while the Patriots’ defense smothered the Falcons red-hot offense. At one point in this game, Atlanta had a 98.9% chance of winning, but the team unraveled allowing the Patriots back in the game and an eventual victory.
While Brady deserves the Super Bowl MVP award for leading this historic comeback, down by 25 points, James White deserves almost as much credit for his performance. In this game, he gained 139 total yards, scored three touchdowns, and even broke the Super Bowl record for most receptions with 14.
In this video breakdown, I looked at White’s three touchdowns and discussed his general impact in the game and how New England used him in their offense.
Looking at the game as a whole, the Patriots loved aligning White in the backfield in Shotgun and in Singleback formations. They mainly used him as a flat receiver and underneath checkdown option to find creases in the Falcons’ zone defense.
In addition to breaking the game receptions record, he also broke the record for most points scored in the Super Bowl (20) and tied the records for most touchdowns (3) and most two-point conversions (1).
White has one more season on his rookie contract since he was drafted out of Wisconsin. With Dion Lewis always injured, it will be interesting to see what the Patriots do with the pair of running backs that are so useful on third downs. In my opinion, they don't need to decide on his fate until the following offseason, but he has been a quality piece for them all year and should be moving forward.
There have been very few Super Bowl games I have enjoyed as much as this one. Super Bowl 43 with Santonio Holmes’ touchdown catch, both of New York Giants' wins over the Patriots, and even Super Bowl 49 with Malcolm Butler's incredible, yet painful, interception showcased incredible displays of talent and passion. Looking back at how this game transpired, I will certainly add this game to that list.
As far as the Seattle Seahawks are concerned, the offensive line is a must fix for them over the offseason. They need to look at the offensive tackles available in free agency and the NFL Draft and see if they can find a replacement. If they choose to not find a replacement, then they drastically need George Fant to improve or they won’t have a legitimate shot at making another Super Bowl run.