Tom Brady. Julian Edelman. Rob Gronkowski. Malcolm Butler.
One received MVP, two others received 15 passes for over 170 yards and two touchdowns, and another received what would have been the game-winning touchdown. But the New England Patriots’ 28-24 Super Bowl victory over the Seattle Seahawks’ was composed of many.
Here is look at seven other Patriots who proved to be constant parts of it, even if they were not alone.
Danny Amendola, Wide Receiver
Stat Line: Five Catches for 48 Yards, Touchdown
Amendola caught 27 passes for 200 yards and on touchdown during the regular season, but the second-year Patriots wideout caught on when it mattered most in the postseason. No. 80 tallied 11 receptions for 137 yards and three touchdowns over three playoff games, and his five receptions at University of Phoenix Stadium on Sunday helped accrue more than numbers.
In the first quarter, Amendola snared a 2nd-and-8 pass on a quick out and broke a tackle from Seahawks cornerback Byron Maxwell to gain six yards, then he gained 10 more yards on the same route on another 2nd-and-8. In the second quarter, he reeled in a 1st-and-10 quick screen and took it up field for 17 yards, before taking another quick out over the shoulder for 11 yards. And in the fourth, when the Patriots were down 14 and just one play removed from an incompletion to Edelman, Brady found Amendola up the seam. A jump-ball TD beyond All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas was the byproduct. Amendola was a pivotal cog in New England’s surgical underneath attack, playing away from the sudden pass rush and Cover-3 secondary overhead.
Shane Vereen, Halfback
Stat Line: Four Rushes for 13 Yards, 11 Catches for 64 Yards
It was long thought the Patriots would have to run at will. Shane Vereen proved otherwise on Sunday night in Glendale, Ariz. The change-of-pace back averaged just three yards per carry against a Seahawks front that had allowed 3.4 per carry during the regular season, but he left his impact elsewhere.
Vereen harnessed 11 receptions, which was the second highest total of his NFL career, and picked up 64 yards along with them. Out of flat routes and jailbreak screens, the former California Golden Bear registered first downs on five catches and was targeted three times on third down. He kept New England’s backfield in the game, even when he and LeGarrette were able to rush for only 53 yards. He got into the open field against linebackers, and he got enough.
Nate Solder, Left Tackle
Stat Line: One Hurry, One Sack Allowed
Pass rush was going to be an underlying variable, and Patriots left tackle Nate Solder did his part to discard it. Solder went up against Seahawks right ends Cliff Avril and O’Brien Schofield, who had combined for nine sacks since the season opener. But neither would combine for another Sunday night.
Avril left the game following a hit delivered by running back Brandon Bolden, having notched on hurry on Brady, according to Pro Football Focus. And at that juncture, Schofield filtered in and was unable to notch one of his own. The most significant blemish for Solder was a spin move from Seahawks outside linebacker Bruce Irvin, which saw Brady back into a sack after his receivers were blanketed and his pass protection bought four seconds. Solder’s performance as a whole was as complete as it could have been, however. He responded to speed with punch, rerouting the arc for Brady to climb the pocket.
Sebastian Vollmer, Right Tackle
Stat Line: One Hurry Allowed
From Solder all the way over to Sebastian Vollmer, it was a collective effort from New England’s offensive line. Though the rush lanes weren’t there for Patriots halfbacks, they weren’t there for Seattle’s front seven, either.
Left guard Dan Connolly, center Bryan Stork and right guard Ryan Wendell held the inside of the pocket intact when Brady climbed into his throws deeper down the field. And Vollmer absorbed Michael Bennett’s leveraging strength on the quarterback’s broad side through the process. Versatile and laterally explosive, Bennett posted seven sacks during the regular season. He finished the Super Bowl having posted one quarterback hurry. The 6-foot-8 Vollmer won out, even through the lower man often won.
Vince Wilfork, Defensive Tackle
Stat Line: Two Tackles
The play of Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich was centered around containing Russell Wilson and the zone-read, and the two brought the Seahawks quarterback down for two sacks in end result. But it would be remiss to overlook what Vince Wilfork did on the interior against Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch-led ground game.
The 6-foot-2, 325-pound defensive lineman showed more power than he should have shown, as a 33-year-old just 15 months removed from a torn Achilles. And while Lynch broke the 100-yard mark against him and the Patriots’ defense, the 1,300-yard back did not break the game open. The strong arms, stable technique and gap integrity from Wilfork held up the point of attack and Seahawks right guard J.R. Sweezy. His two credited tackles are only part of that story.
Dont’a Hightower, Linebacker
Stat Line: Five Tackles
Despite playing primarily with one arm on Feb. 1, Dont’a Hightower was not short-handed. The green dot of New England’s defense was sent rushing on five plays and generated one hurry. From there, he was sent to cover the middle of the field and did not allow a catch. And from there, he was sent to crash into Lynch on five runs combining for 24 yards.
But one moment stands above Hightower’s many: He kept Lynch from getting one yard on a 1st-and-5 that gained four. If the third-year Patriots linebacker doesn’t shed left tackle Russell Okung to grab ahold of Lynch’s leg at the 1:02 mark in the fourth, Akeem Ayers doesn’t get the chance to hit him high, and an undrafted rookie doesn’t get the chance to intercept the game.
Darrelle Revis, Cornerback
Stat Line: One Sack, One Catch Allowed
Darrelle Revis brought down Wilson for a loss of two on a first-quarter scramble, but he would only be around the ball once more against Seattle. It arrived on 2nd-and-goal in the third quarter, when he ran into an official while covering wideout Doug Baldwin’s crossing pattern.
The end result of the unintended pick play was a three-yard touchdown. Baldwin was not targeted before then, and he was not targeted again. Revis had kept the quick 800-yard receiver from impacting the game vertically, while Butler, Brandon Browner the rest of the Patriots’ secondary kept Wilson from completing more than 12 passes.
It was the blueprint.