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The Key Reason for the Super Bowl Offensive Explosion

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ivanvamp

In the Starting Line-Up
No, it's not bad defense.

The key reason is that the officials did not call a single offensive holding penalty all game long. But believe me, there was PLENTY of holding. There have been other games where very little holding was called, but zero holding penalties in the Super Bowl. Not only zero holding penalties, but it was clear from the outset the the refs simply weren't going to call holding. And that allowed two good offensive lines to keep their quarterbacks pretty clean. Consider:

During the regular season, New England had 42 sacks and Philly had 38. That's 80 sacks between the two teams over a combined 32 games. That comes to 2.5 sacks per game on average.

During the playoffs, the Patriots had 11 sacks in two games coming into the Super Bowl. Philadelphia had 4 in two games coming into the Super Bowl. Both Philly and NE have very good offensive lines, but it's very difficult to believe that neither team could get a sack until the very end of the game, without there being some pretty major holding going on.

And it wasn't like both teams only threw short, quick passes. Philly went deep down the field 9 times, and New England 13 times. Those plays take a lot of time.

Any competent NFL quarterback is going to perform at a fairly high level if he is given excellent protection. One reason why Foles' throws were so accurate is that he was kept clean all game long. Same with Brady. The non-holding benefitted both teams, both offenses. On many of the completions, especially those downfield but also the more intermediate routes, receivers were covered very well. Re-watch the Jefferey touchdown, the Clement touchdown (which shouldn't have counted, but whatever), and the Gronk corner touchdown. On three of those plays, the defense was RIGHT THERE in excellent position. It's just that the throws were perfect and the receivers made terrific catches. If the QBs are pressured in those situations, they almost certainly do not make such accurate throws.

Personally I enjoyed having few flags thrown. I want to see the athletes do their thing. But the Patriots got away with a fair number of holds, and James Harrison was grabbed around the neck numerous times. No flags. When the OL is allowed to do that, the quarterbacks stay clean, and can deliver the ball accurately. Foles may not be Joe Montana, but he doesn't have to be in order to perform at a high level if he's never going to be touched. And he's never going to be touched if an already good offensive line is allowed to hold like crazy without impunity. Similarly, if you give an all-time great like Brady the time he had this game, he's going to absolutely dissect even a terrific defense (Philly was #4 in points and #4 in yards allowed). Which is precisely what he did.

It's easy to blame the defenses, but the biggest reason the offenses just rolled all game long wasn't because of bad defense. It was because two offensive lines were allowed to grab, maul, hook, yank, and drag defenders all game long, keeping their QBs clean all night. That's both good OL play and a tip of the cap to the officials, who simply refused to call an offensive holding penalty all night long.

That's the biggest explanation for the shootout we saw in Super Bowl 52.
 

fan345

On the Roster
Thanks for pointing this out. On another forum, I have had discussions about how bad the pass rush was. This is the explanation. This is why in a game like this, it is so important to get third down stops when you can. The problem was not the pass rush, but the linebackers. The Pats failed when they had the chance to make a stop because of poor tacking and coverage by the linebackers and corners not called Gilmore. In addition to the things mentioned here: Super Bowl LII Film Review: Where Patriots Missed Malcolm Butler Most, I saw Roberts fall down in coverage once or twice and that really hurt.
 

pheenix11

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Considering a holding call basically saved us in SB 51, yeah I’d say it’s pretty important. I saw a lot of holds very similar to what the Falcons did to Chris Long and none of them were called. They basically got a free pass the entire game. It was on both sides so it’s not why we lost. But if is part of the reason why Foles was able to match Brady score for score. What they do under pressure is what differentiates great quarterbacks from average ones. No pressure and suddenly everyone is Joe Montana.

Great post, you hit the nail on the head.
 

TriplecHamp

Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract
Thanks for pointing this out. On another forum, I have had discussions about how bad the pass rush was. This is the explanation. This is why in a game like this, it is so important to get third down stops when you can. The problem was not the pass rush, but the linebackers. The Pats failed when they had the chance to make a stop because of poor tacking and coverage by the linebackers and corners not called Gilmore. In addition to the things mentioned here: Super Bowl LII Film Review: Where Patriots Missed Malcolm Butler Most, I saw Roberts fall down in coverage once or twice and that really hurt.

 

dannydyn

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I admit the game started pretty slow offensively, but in the 2nd half Brady and the offense were moving the ball at will - with or without flags. The single biggest reason to the loss remains Butler being on the sideline, and the defense playing a different scheme than they what usually play with the usual personnel.

Put Butler on the field, and one of the many Eagles drives that ended in points, would have ended in a 3-and-out, which would have been enough to tip the game in our favor, and ultimately gives us the win.
 

Koma

In the Starting Line-Up
Very interesting point by the OP. Back when there was all the whining about the penalties in the AFCCG, I saw that the Jaguars weren't called for any offensive line holding penalties in 3 playoff games.

Here's a breakdown for all the 10 yard offensive holding penalties in this year's playoff games:

Titans vs. Chiefs - KC was called for holding twice, both on running plays (though one was a run by Alex Smith, so it may have been a scramble.)

Rams vs. Falcons - The Rams were called for 1 offensive holding penalty.

Jacksonville vs. Buffalo - The Bills were called for 1 offensive holding penalty.

Saints vs. Panthers - New Orleans was called for holding once once on a running play. They were called for holding once on a passing play, but that was declined. Carolina was called for holding once on a passing play, but there was an offsetting defensive penalty.

Falcons vs. Eagles - No holding penalties.

Titans vs. Patriots - Tennessee was called for 1 offensive holding penalty on a running play.

Jacksonville vs. Pittsburgh - No holding penalties.

Saints vs. Vikings - Minnesota was called for 1 offensive holding penalty on a running play.

Jacksonville vs. New England - The Jaguars were called for one holding penalty on a passing play, but it was declined.

Vikings vs. Eagles - Philadelphia was called for 1 offensive holding penalty on a running play.

And, as has been mentioned, there were no holding calls in the Super Bowl. For all the playoff games, there 5 holding calls on the offense total. 2 of these were declined and one was negated by a defense penalty on the same play. In short, there were 2 enforced holding calls in 11 playoff games.

As far as how I determined this, I went through the play by play for each game on Pro Football Reference and searched for "holding" and disregarded any of the defensive or special teams penalties.
 

Chris Stevenson

In the Starting Line-Up
No, it's not bad defense.

The key reason is that the officials did not call a single offensive holding penalty all game long. But believe me, there was PLENTY of holding. There have been other games where very little holding was called, but zero holding penalties in the Super Bowl. Not only zero holding penalties, but it was clear from the outset the the refs simply weren't going to call holding. And that allowed two good offensive lines to keep their quarterbacks pretty clean. Consider:

During the regular season, New England had 42 sacks and Philly had 38. That's 80 sacks between the two teams over a combined 32 games. That comes to 2.5 sacks per game on average.

During the playoffs, the Patriots had 11 sacks in two games coming into the Super Bowl. Philadelphia had 4 in two games coming into the Super Bowl. Both Philly and NE have very good offensive lines, but it's very difficult to believe that neither team could get a sack until the very end of the game, without there being some pretty major holding going on.

And it wasn't like both teams only threw short, quick passes. Philly went deep down the field 9 times, and New England 13 times. Those plays take a lot of time.

Any competent NFL quarterback is going to perform at a fairly high level if he is given excellent protection. One reason why Foles' throws were so accurate is that he was kept clean all game long. Same with Brady. The non-holding benefitted both teams, both offenses. On many of the completions, especially those downfield but also the more intermediate routes, receivers were covered very well. Re-watch the Jefferey touchdown, the Clement touchdown (which shouldn't have counted, but whatever), and the Gronk corner touchdown. On three of those plays, the defense was RIGHT THERE in excellent position. It's just that the throws were perfect and the receivers made terrific catches. If the QBs are pressured in those situations, they almost certainly do not make such accurate throws.

Personally I enjoyed having few flags thrown. I want to see the athletes do their thing. But the Patriots got away with a fair number of holds, and James Harrison was grabbed around the neck numerous times. No flags. When the OL is allowed to do that, the quarterbacks stay clean, and can deliver the ball accurately. Foles may not be Joe Montana, but he doesn't have to be in order to perform at a high level if he's never going to be touched. And he's never going to be touched if an already good offensive line is allowed to hold like crazy without impunity. Similarly, if you give an all-time great like Brady the time he had this game, he's going to absolutely dissect even a terrific defense (Philly was #4 in points and #4 in yards allowed). Which is precisely what he did.

It's easy to blame the defenses, but the biggest reason the offenses just rolled all game long wasn't because of bad defense. It was because two offensive lines were allowed to grab, maul, hook, yank, and drag defenders all game long, keeping their QBs clean all night. That's both good OL play and a tip of the cap to the officials, who simply refused to call an offensive holding penalty all night long.

That's the biggest explanation for the shootout we saw in Super Bowl 52.

One word: Goodell.

I'v been trying to explain this to people for a decade. Offensive Era.

This is what Goodell and the scummy owners have wanted. Honestly, after talking with non Pats fans' friends or co-workers, they all enjoyed the back and forth shootout stuff. It's not my cup of tea, but BB changed how he built these teams in 2007.

Great offense, good defense.

That's the formula.

Offense wins championships, not defense.
 

Chris Stevenson

In the Starting Line-Up
Holding ends your drive 70 percent of the time

it's also subjective like PIs, it can be "hidden" as a way of trying to manipulate outcomes of games.

The throw to Tyree? I can see 3 different blatant holds on that play. I think it was Seymour was about to converge and drill Manning, and he just ends up stopping to a dead halt, unable to finish it off.

Adalius Thomas was held through the line, and Jarvis Green was also held, with Manning in the grasp.

It's comical how obvious it was.

Goodell's cheating goes back a decade, folks.
 

juny

Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract
One word: Goodell.

I'v been trying to explain this to people for a decade. Offensive Era.

This is what Goodell and the scummy owners have wanted. Honestly, after talking with non Pats fans' friends or co-workers, they all enjoyed the back and forth shootout stuff. It's not my cup of tea, but BB changed how he built these teams in 2007.

Great offense, good defense.

That's the formula.

Offense wins championships, not defense.

seattle and denver would beg to differ
 

JJC

I didn't order assholes with my whiskey.
PatsFans.com Supporter
If this becomes the new standard for NFL games, Brady can play for another 10 years!
 

Actual Pats Fan

PatsFans.com Supporter
PatsFans.com Supporter
One word: Goodell.

I'v been trying to explain this to people for a decade. Offensive Era.

This is what Goodell and the scummy owners have wanted. Honestly, after talking with non Pats fans' friends or co-workers, they all enjoyed the back and forth shootout stuff. It's not my cup of tea, but BB changed how he built these teams in 2007.

Great offense, good defense.

That's the formula.

Offense wins championships, not defense.
I saw almost as much not-called holding by the Eagles Sunday as there was in Oakland, offensively and defensively, by the cowardly Raiders on December 18, 1976.

Almost.
 

ivanvamp

In the Starting Line-Up
One word: Goodell.

I'v been trying to explain this to people for a decade. Offensive Era.

This is what Goodell and the scummy owners have wanted. Honestly, after talking with non Pats fans' friends or co-workers, they all enjoyed the back and forth shootout stuff. It's not my cup of tea, but BB changed how he built these teams in 2007.

Great offense, good defense.

That's the formula.

Offense wins championships, not defense.

Well of the last five Super Bowls, three were won with excellent offense and two were won with excellent defense.

Offense: NE over Sea (28-24), NE over Atl (34-28), Phi over NE (41-33)
Defense: Sea over Den (43-8), Den over Car (24-10)
 

ivanvamp

In the Starting Line-Up
Very interesting point by the OP. Back when there was all the whining about the penalties in the AFCCG, I saw that the Jaguars weren't called for any offensive line holding penalties in 3 playoff games.

Here's a breakdown for all the 10 yard offensive holding penalties in this year's playoff games:

Titans vs. Chiefs - KC was called for holding twice, both on running plays (though one was a run by Alex Smith, so it may have been a scramble.)

Rams vs. Falcons - The Rams were called for 1 offensive holding penalty.

Jacksonville vs. Buffalo - The Bills were called for 1 offensive holding penalty.

Saints vs. Panthers - New Orleans was called for holding once once on a running play. They were called for holding once on a passing play, but that was declined. Carolina was called for holding once on a passing play, but there was an offsetting defensive penalty.

Falcons vs. Eagles - No holding penalties.

Titans vs. Patriots - Tennessee was called for 1 offensive holding penalty on a running play.

Jacksonville vs. Pittsburgh - No holding penalties.

Saints vs. Vikings - Minnesota was called for 1 offensive holding penalty on a running play.

Jacksonville vs. New England - The Jaguars were called for one holding penalty on a passing play, but it was declined.

Vikings vs. Eagles - Philadelphia was called for 1 offensive holding penalty on a running play.

And, as has been mentioned, there were no holding calls in the Super Bowl. For all the playoff games, there 5 holding calls on the offense total. 2 of these were declined and one was negated by a defense penalty on the same play. In short, there were 2 enforced holding calls in 11 playoff games.

As far as how I determined this, I went through the play by play for each game on Pro Football Reference and searched for "holding" and disregarded any of the defensive or special teams penalties.

So basically Philly wasn't called for any holding penalties all playoff long. And Foles' passing stats were off the charts great over the course of three games.

In the second to last regular season game, here were the sack, QB hit, and holding stats in the Oakland game:

- Foles sacked 2 times
- Foles hit 6 times
- Phi called for 4 offensive holding penalties
- Foles' passing line: 19-38, 163 yards, 1 td, 1 int, 59.4 rating
- Phi scored 19 points

Foles obviously had a small sample size so there's not a ton of data to go on. But clearly if you get pressure on him, and the refs call holding, he is a very different quarterback than when the offensive line (which is already good to begin with) is free to literally hold on every play.

Now, the Patriots also benefitted from a lack of holding penalties, so I don't see this as the "refs giving the Eagles the game" or anything like that. I just think it's the major explanation for why BOTH offenses just shredded what normally were good defenses. I mean, Brady is awesome, but that vaunted Philly defense giving up 613 total yards? Are you kidding me? That simply cannot happen unless the refs are....uh.....letting the offensive line maul some people. I don't recall the Patriots racking up that many yards ever before in the BB/TB era (it may have happened but I don't remember).
 
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