Given the Rams’ penchant for trickery, it’s possible they will mimic one of the more famous gambits in Super Bowl history, when New Orleans entered halftime trailing Indianapolis, 10-6, with the Colts, guided by Peyton Manning, slated to receive the second-half kickoff. Aaron Kromer, who served on the Saints’ staff that year and now coordinates the Rams’ running game, said Thursday that the team knew it had to steal a possession to defeat Manning.
And so, early in the break, Coach Sean Payton informed kicker Thomas Morstead that instead of booting the ball deep, he’d squib an onside kick. Morstead told reporters afterward that he was terrified, but New Orleans recovered, scored a touchdown on that drive and eventually won.
Reggie Wayne, a receiver on that Colts team and now an analyst for NFL Network, said he had been antsy during that halftime, knowing his team had the momentum.
“We were saying to each other, you know, in the locker room, if we go down and score on this drive, we’ll kill ’em, we can bury them, you know what I mean?” he said. “Then they came out with the onside kick. So maybe we needed more time.”
The additional time did help the Patriots, trailing the Atlanta Falcons by 18 points two years ago, in a specific way: They could refocus. From speaking with players, Matt Chatham, a three-time Super Bowl winner with New England who is now an analyst for NESN, said he expected to hear that tables were overturned, voices were raised and significant changes made. Instead, he said, he heard the opposite. There was urgency, but there was no rush.
“We just went out and played as bad as we possibly could,” said Hogan, relaying Belichick’s message. “Let’s play better and see where it puts us.”
New England’s defense coalesced as Tom Brady dissected man-to-man coverage. Atlanta, exhausted, collapsed. The Patriots scored the final 31 points and won in overtime. They could all agree, it was worth the wait.