The Tom Brady-Bill Belichick dynasty actually lacks something: a 100-yard rusher in the Super Bowl for the New England Patriots.
Perhaps that’s the best way to explain why it’s been a decade since a title game winner reached a mark often reserved for Super Bowl MVPs. It also illustrates how the game has changed since Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith and Terrell Davis were carrying the Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos to championships.
Sunday’s Super Bowl between the Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles will be the 20th since the last time a running back was the MVP: Davis.
”I think gone are probably the days of the one running back that carries the ball 35 times Authentic Russell Bodine Jersey ,” Philadelphia defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said. ”People use running backs in a lot of different roles and they use running backs, I don’t want to say by committee, but by specialty.”
That’s a pretty good way to describe both these teams, who have combined for just three 100-yard rushing games all season.
Jay Ajayi, the heralded midseason acquisition by the Eagles in a trade, doesn’t have the one for Philadelphia. It belongs to LeGarrette Blount, who led the Patriots with just 31 yards last year when New England threw almost non-stop in the second half while rallying from 25 points down to beat Atlanta.
The most recent Super Bowl winner with a 100-yard rusher was Indianapolis with Dominic Rhodes in 2007, which incidentally included a 100-yard game for Chicago’s Thomas Jones.
The last 100-yard rusher in the Super Bowl was Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch against the Patriots three years ago, when the Seahawks infamously threw an interception at the goal line instead of giving the ball to their bruising runner for the potential winning touchdown.
”There was a period of time where the running back position was being – quote, unquote – devalued in some way,” said Ajayi, who had two 100-yard games for Miami before the trade and is averaging 59 yards in nine games, including the playoffs, with the Eagles.
”As of recent, if you look across the league, especially on our team, the running game is essential Authentic Phillip Gaines Jersey ,” Ajayi said. ”For me personally, I take pride in showcasing how the position can be a game-changer in every game.”
The Eagles finished third in rushing during the regular season and had a pair of 200-yard games. They have restored a three-back rotation despite the season-ending injury to Darren Sproles. Ajayi and Blount get help from third-down back Corey Clement.
”I think the teams that have an opportunity to go to the postseason, they do have the ability to run the football,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. ”You have to stay patient and diligent there. That’s something we’ve been able to do all season long. It’s something we stay committed to.”
Dion Lewis had both of New England’s 100-yard games and averaged almost 5 yards per carry. He also had three receiving touchdowns to go with six rushing scores. James White and Rex Burkhead also had three receiving TDs apiece.
”There’s no position group that’s going to touch the ball more than the running back except for the quarterback,” offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said.
”Whether you hand it to them, throw it to them, screen it to them, spread them about, throw to them outside the backfield, they’re going to have the ball in space because they’re the best runners on your team. We’ve always believed in that.”
The closest thing to a 100-yard Super Bowl rusher for the Patriots under Brady and Belichick was in their first trip. Antowain Smith had 92 yards when New England beat St. Louis in 2002.
”Game’s different than the way it was when I first got in the league,” said Lewis, a seventh-year pro. ”I think as a running back, you’ve just got to be more versatile, be able to do a lot of things so you can get the ball in your hands as much as possible.”
Some of those things aren’t necessarily new – swing passes to running backs, screens to receivers, other glorified running plays that count as passes.
And Schwartz says the run-pass options the Eagles use aren’t really new either, even though it seems that way as a popular Super Bowl week topic with backup quarterback Nick Foles finishing Philadelphia’s path to the title game after Carson Wentz’s season-ending knee injury.
There have been other tricks through the years as well.
”The Patriots used to do a little jet sweep where they’d tap the ball forward from the quarterback Authentic Marshall Newhouse Jersey , almost like a volleyball tap,” Schwartz said. ”That goes down as a pass. When it’s all said and done, you don’t get any extra points for running the ball across the goal line.”
While Eagles running backs coach Duce Staley agrees that it’s a passing league, he doesn’t think much of it being so long since a Super Bowl winner had a 100-yard rusher.
”All I know is for the Eagles to win,” the former Philadelphia running back said, ”we’ve got to run the ball.”
This time, the short porch at Yankee Stadium ended up hurting the home team.
Even with one of baseball’s tallest players posted at the wall.
Ronald Acuna Jr. hit a two-run homer in the 11th inning that nicked the glove of a leaping Aaron Judge in right field, and the Atlanta Braves beat the New York Yankees 5-3 on Monday in a matchup between the top teams in each league entering the night.
”It should give us a lot of confidence,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. ”It’s good for our young guys that come into a place like this against a team like this, as good as they are, and play well.”
Johan Camargo homered early and Jesse Biddle pitched out of a late jam for the NL East leaders, who followed up a three-game sweep in St. Louis with their fourth consecutive victory. Atlanta (49-34) is 15 games over .500 for the first time since the conclusion of the 2013 season.
New York (54-28) fell a game behind first-place Boston in the AL East.
The 20-year-old Acuna also doubled and drove in three runs, four years to the day after the touted rookie signed with the Braves.
”First time here at Yankee Stadium,” he said through a translator. ”First home run at Yankee Stadium is very special to me.”
Judge hit his 23rd homer and second in two nights. Gleyber Torres had three hits and scored twice, but the rookie second baseman’s 10th error since he was called up April 22 helped Atlanta get started in the 11th.
Playing on the outfield grass, Torres booted Nick Markakis‘ leadoff grounder. One out later, Acuna lofted a 1-2 pitch from David Robertson (5-3) the other way. Judge Authentic Marquis Haynes Jersey , all 6-foot-7 of him, got in good position at the auxiliary scoreboard and jumped, but the ball glanced off the tip of his webbing and cleared the fence.
”Tough play. I want to make that play for D-Rob and I wasn’t able to come through,” Judge said. ”That’s all it is, just a little timing. If I time it up right I make that play. On that one, I was just a little late.”
Robertson slumped near the mound as an excited Acuna circled the bases with his seventh home run – third in the past six games.
”Man, when he hit it I thought it was an out, to be honest with you,” Robertson said. ”Playing here at Yankee Stadium, you see it happen all the time. The short porch gets you in right field.”
Robertson had faced 182 right-handed batters without giving up a home run since Adam Rosales connected off him on June 25, 2017.
A.J. Minter got three outs for his fourth save .
”He’s got a save in Wrigley Field and Yankee Stadium. I mean, that’s pretty good for a first-year reliever,” Snitker said. ”And you can tell, he’s liking that situation, too. He doesn’t back down. He’s got a lot of confidence in himself.”
New York stranded 12 and went a season-worst 0 for 12 with runners in scoring position.
The Yankees had the bases loaded with one out in the 10th before Biddle (2-0) struck out Greg Bird and Austin Romine on seven pitches. The left-hander fanned four in two scoreless innings.
”These fans are pretty loud, and I was just trying to quiet them down,” Biddle said.
Aroldis Chapman struck out the side in the ninth for the Yankees Authentic Cordy Glenn Jersey , hitting a season-high 104 mph on the stadium radar gun to oohs and aahs from the crowd of 43,792. Dellin Betances retired slugger Freddie Freeman with runners at the corners to end the 10th.
Judge hit a pop-fly homer to right in the first and has gone deep in four of his last six games. Camargo answered with a leadoff shot in the third against rookie starter Jonathan Loaisiga, who was sent to the minors after the game.
Braves right-hander Anibal Sanchez allowed three runs in six innings.
Loaisiga was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to open a spot for RHP A.J. Cole (neck strain), who will be reinstated from the disabled list Tuesday. Yankees manager Aaron Boone said there’s a good chance Loaisiga will return next Monday to start in a doubleheader at Baltimore.
ALL IN THE FAMILY
With the international signing period open, the Yankees landed the younger brother of ace pitcher Luis Severino. Rafael Severino is a 19-year-old right-hander from the Dominican Republic who will start out at the club’s academy there.
”Yippee. Sign me up for that,” Boone said. ”Definitely good to have another Severino in the mix.”
The elder Severino, who is 13-2 with a 1.98 ERA, leads the majors in wins and the AL in ERA. He said he was excited, and happily delivered the news to his kid brother.
”He was flipping out. He didn’t believe it,” Luis Severino told reporters . ”I think he’s going to be really good.”
Braves: Reliever Peter Moylan was placed on the 10-day DL with a strained right forearm and RHP Matt Wisler was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett. OF Michael Reed and RHP Evan Phillips were called up from Triple-A. … Arodys Vizcaino (right shoulder inflammation) threw a bullpen and could come off the disabled list Tuesday. Vizcaino, who has 15 saves, has been sidelined since June 21.
Yankees: RHP Masahiro Tanaka (two strained hamstrings) threw a bullpen and is scheduled to make a rehab start Wednesday at Triple-A. He could rejoin the team early next week in Baltimore – perhaps in time to pitch in the doubleheader. … As a precaution, Romine (left hamstring) was out of the starting lineup for the second consecutive night. He entered at catcher in the ninth. Romine will likely start one of the next two games, Boone said.
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