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NFL Playoffs League - FFL: Preseason | NFL: Week 1

Pats' defense stifles Goff, Rams' offense in Super Bowl win

Sun Feb 3 10:31pm ET
By KYLE HIGHTOWER
AP Sports Writer

Players: Stephen Gostkowski, C.J. Anderson, Brandin Cooks, Todd Gurley, Jared Goff

New England Patriots' Dont'a Hightower (54) and New England Patriots' Kyle Van Noy celebrate a sack on Los Angeles Rams' Jared Goff during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 53 football game Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)


New England Patriots' Stephon Gilmore, right, intercepts a pass intended for Los Angeles Rams' Brandin Cooks (12) during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 53 football game Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)


New England Patriots' Dont'a Hightower (54) and New England Patriots' Kyle Van Noy (53), center, sack Los Angeles Rams' Jared Goff (16) during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 53 football game Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)


ATLANTA (AP) For most of the season the New England Patriots have been creatures of habit on defense, sticking to their principles and making just enough plays to win.

They were much more than that Sunday night against the Los Angles Rams.

The Patriots battered and bewildered quarterback Jared Goff and the Rams, stifling the NFL's second-ranked scoring en route to a 13-3 Super Bowl victory.

When Goff began to find his grove late in the fourth quarter and the Rams trailing 10-3, Los Angeles drove inside New England's 30 for just the second time in the game.

The momentum proved to be short-lived.

Enter safety Duron Harmon.

Playing in place of Patrick Chung after he suffered an arm injury in third quarter, Harmon combined with cornerback Stephon Gilmore to break up what would have been a touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks in the end zone. Then, on the next play, Harmon pressured Goff on a blitz and forced him into a throw into coverage that was intercepted by Gilmore.

New England's offense took it from there, sealing the victory with a 9-play, 72-yard drive that ate up 3:05 and ended with a 41-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski.

The Patriots' defense gave Goff different looks all night and many of them seemed to confuse the 24-year-old quarterback. They routinely sent an extra deep safety on third-and-short situations and disguised their blitzes up the middle. The latter benefited linebacker Dont'a Hightower, who dropped Goff for a pair of sacks to stunt drives.

New England finished with four sacks for the game.

It added up to an abysmal performance by Los Angeles on third-down situations. The Rams were 0 for 6 on third down in the first half and 3 of 13 for game. New England also held Los Angeles to just 260 total yards.

None of the Rams' running backs were able to get much traction, either.

Los Angeles, which entered the game averaging 175 rushing yards per game during the playoffs with four touchdowns, mustered just 3.4 yards per rush on third down. All-Pro running back Todd Gurley finished with 10 rushes for 35 yards. C.J. Anderson, who had 167 yards and two touchdowns through two playoff games, had seven carries for 22 yards.

New England bailed Goff out early in the fourth quarter when Gilmore was called for defensive holding on Goff's third-and-11 pass attempt, giving the Rams a fresh set of downs.

But the Patriots recovered and used a sack by Jonathan Jones, holding penalty and threw Gurley for a loss to force a punt.

It was the second straight impressive performance by the Pats' defense.

In the AFC championship game the Patriots held the Kansas City Chiefs, the NFL's top-scoring offense during the regular season, scoreless in the first half. They held the Rams, which averaged 32.9 points per game during the regular season and 28 points in the playoffs, to just three points.

Player Notes
Jaron Brown May 24 7:30pm ET

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Jaron Brown was working with the first team in organized team activities alongside Tyler Lockett, with rookie D.K. Metcalf mostly with the second-team offense. Metcalf also tried his hand returning some punts, but he didn't look so good. The 29-year-old Brown had 14 receptions for 166 yards and a career-high five touchdowns in his first full season with Seattle last year. There's opportunity with Doug Baldwin retiring, but Lockett and Metcalf are expected to be the top two wideouts, while Brown will have to battle with David Moore, Malik Turner, Amara Darboh and several rookies. Brown might be a waiver wire addition early in the year in deeper leagues if he wins a starting job and produces early on.

From RotoBaller

Keelan Doss May 24 7:30pm ET

Oakland Raiders undrafted rookie wide receiver Keelan Doss has impressed head coach Jon Gruden so far in organized team activities. He has the size, ball skills and awareness to make an impact for the Raiders. "I think he's smart. He's athletic and he's got size and I think he's going to be able to compete on special teams, as well. Plus he's from Alameda, so we had to get Doss," Gruden said. Doss finished his career at UC Davis with 321 catches for 4,069 yards and 28 touchdowns, and the 6-foot-2, 211-pound wideout knows how to get open. Still, he has a ways to go to even make the final roster out of training camp.

From RotoBaller

Leonard Fournette May 24 6:30pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator John DeFilippo said that running back Leonard Fournette will be a big part of the team's offense in 2019. "Im going to call it what it is: Hes going to be a major reason where our offense goes. Im not going to sugarcoat that. Leonard Fournette needs to be a big part of this offense," DeFilippo said. Fournette was a bust last year, missing eight games last season with injuries and one to a suspension. He finished with 439 yards rushing and five touchdowns after rushing for 1,040 yards and five scores as a rookie. The 24-year-old still has a lot of upside in a run-first offense with a better quarterback at the helm in Nick Foles, but he'll be a risk/reward low-end RB1 because of the fact he's only played in 21 games in his first two seasons in the NFL.

From RotoBaller

DeVante Parker May 24 5:50pm ET

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Devante Parker was excellent in red-zone drills at organized team activities this week, catching multiple passes. The new coaching staff and receivers coach Karl Dorrell are trying to use positive reinforcement with Parker, who has responded well to the approach. The 26-year-old is being given a second chance under the new coaching staff after struggling with injuries, drops and just poor overall play after being the 14th overall pick in the 2015 draft. Parker had only 24 receptions for 309 yards and a touchdown in 11 games last year and hasn't gone over 57 catches or four touchdowns in any season in his four years. Most fantasy owners will continue to write him off, but he could be worth a late-round flier if he continues to look good in 2019.

From RotoBaller

Josh Rosen May 24 5:40pm ET

Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has been better than quarterback Josh Rosen at organized team activities this week, according to a player that didn't want to speak publicly. However, Rosen has played well and Fitzpatrick threw two interceptions at practice on Tuesday. Rosen is doing his best work in the middle of the field and had good red-zone numbers with Arizona in his rookie season, but he also has remained inconsistent in practices. Miami has an open competition at QB this summer, but Rosen should win the job and start in Week 1. A change of scenery should be good news for him, but he'll be nothing more than a low-end QB2 that needs to prove himself.

From RotoBaller

Jaylen Samuels May 24 5:30pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers running backs James Conner and Jaylen Samuels were lined up together in the backfield during Day 2 of organized team activities this week, which is a different look for their offense. Samuels had 256 rushing yards on 56 carries in his rookie season and added 199 receiving yards and three touchdowns on 26 catches as a converted tight end. Conner, who had 215 carries for 973 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground last year, will see the bulk of the backfield touches and will be highly coveted in fantasy drafts with Le'Veon Bell out of the picture now. Samuels won't be a bad handcuff at all.

From RotoBaller

Cooper Kupp May 24 4:40pm ET

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (knee), who tore his ACL in Week 10 last year, is on the mend and is on track for the start of the regular season. Im taking it day-by-day, Kupp said this week. Its just about attacking this week, attacking the day as best as I possibly can. And I feel good about where Im at. He has taken part in walkthrough 11-on-11 drills during the week but otherwise has been on the sidelines with trainers. Kupp will gradually expand what he can do leading up to training camp. The 25-year-old was only able to play in eight games because of his injury last year, but he remains one of quarterback Jared Goff's favorite targets. Kupp had 62 receptions for 869 yards and five touchdowns in his rookie season and scored six times in eight games last season.

From RotoBaller

Jared Goff May 24 4:40pm ET

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Robert Woods continues to develop his chemistry with quarterback Jared Goff during organized team activities. Goff has targeted Woods a whopping 215 times over the last two seasons, and the two connected a number of times in 7-on-7 drills at practice this week. Woods is focused on picking up yards after the catch this offseason. The 27-year-old broke out for career highs across the board in catches (86), targets (130), receiving yards (1,219) and touchdowns (six) in his second year in LA in 2018. It helped that Cooper Kupp (knee) wasn't around for half the season, but Woods should continue to do damage in this offense moving forward.

From RotoBaller

Jason Witten May 24 3:00pm ET

Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten, who came out of retirement after a year in the Monday Night Football broadcast booth, has impressed his teammates so far this offseason. Witten looks great and appears to be stronger and faster than he was in 2017, when he had 63 catches for 560 yards and five touchdowns. He played in all 16 games from 2004-17, but the Cowboys want to play it smart with the veteran and limit his snaps by keeping him out of a third of organized team activity practices and into training camp. The 37-year-old is expected to share time with Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz in 2019, so he's unlikely to be a TE1 for fantasy purposes. I guess the trick is to take a year off because hes definitely gotten better, stronger and faster, quarterback Dak Prescott said. He hasnt lost a step.

From RotoBaller

Michael Thomas May 24 2:30pm ET

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas can become a free agent after this season, while defensive end Cameron Jordan can become a free agent in 2021. Thomas and Jordan, who are both attending organized team activities, are two of the most underpaid stars at their positions in the NFL. Thomas, 26, will make only $1.15 million in the final year of his rookie deal after averaging 107 catches, 1,262 yards and eight touchdowns per season in his first three years. His 321 catches are the most in history by a receiver in his first three seasons. Thomas could become the first receiver to average $20 million per year. Neither Thomas nor Jordan plan on holding out, and Jordan said he wants to be a "Saints lifer." Jordan's average salary ranks 22nd among 4-3 defensive ends and 3-4 outside linebackers, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

From RotoBaller

Tyrell Williams May 24 2:03pm ET

Oakland Raiders WR Tyrell Williams has impressed with his speed and route-running so far in OTAs.

Fantasy Spin: Williams' season-high for targets (119) came in 2016 with the Chargers, and he'll be doing good if he can come close to that this season playing opposite Antonio Brown. Value Williams as a WR5.

Ezekiel Elliott May 24 1:43pm ET

Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott is unlikely to face any league discipline over his involvement in a May 19 incident at a Las Vegas music festival, in the opinion of team owner Jerry Jones.

Fantasy Spin: Of course, Jones was certain Elliott wouldn't be suspended for domestic-violence allegations in 2016, but he wound up serving a six-game ban late in 2017 after a circus-like litany of appeals and court rulings. This latest incident, though -- involving a shoving match with a event security officer -- isn't nearly as troubling and until further notice, Elliott should be one of the top handful of RBs off the board at the top of fantasy drafts.

James Washington May 24 1:10pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver James Washington trained harder this offseason and is down 15 pounds from the 223 to 225 pounds he played at in his rookie season. Washington finished 2018 with two 60-plus yard performances in the final three weeks, but his 42.1 percent catch rate (16 receptions on 38 targets) was the worst among Steelers wideouts with at least 10 catches. "I feel like I know more of the plays. ... I feel I'm quicker off the ball," Washington said. "I'm able to run with everybody." Donte Moncrief might have the inside track on the No. 2 job behind JuJu Smith-Schuster, with Eli Rogers in the slot. However, Washington can make some noise as well with Antonio Brown no longer around. Keep an eye on him in deeper leagues.

From RotoBaller

Leonard Fournette May 24 1:03pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette is being counted on to have a big season in 2019. 'We're really looking forward to Leonard having a big year,' offensive coordinator John DeFilippo said this week, via the team's official website. 'I'm going to call it what it is: He's going to be a major reason where our offense goes. I'm not going to sugarcoat that. Leonard Fournette needs to be a big part of this offense. The harder he works -- which he is right now -- that's going to be not only good for our offense, but good for our team.'

Fantasy Spin: Fournette's numbers were down markedly across the board last season as he played in only eight games due to injuries and suspension. However, we've seen what he can do when in the lineup (1,342 total yards, 10 TDs as a rookie) and that's why he will be drafted as a high-end RB2 this summer.

Lamar Jackson May 24 1:00pm ET

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson wasn't happy with how he performed in organized team activities this week. He has been trying to develop as a passer this offseason after completing only 58.2 percent of his passes as a rookie, including 159.1 yards passing per game as a starter. Jackson showed more velocity on his passes on Thursday, but he was still inconsistent. "It's been crazy. It's been everywhere," Jackson said of his throws. "I feel like my hand is a little too high on the football and that makes the ball go out of whack a lot." Baltimore is also installing a new offense under coordinator Greg Roman, so it's going to take Jackson a bit longer to learn the new system. While he should be able to improve his arm in Year 2, Jackson is primarily a running QB in a run-first offense. He'll have QB1 upside but should be taken as a backup with upside in fantasy drafts.

From RotoBaller

Courtland Sutton May 24 1:00pm ET

Denver Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton traveled to Florida to train with Tony Villani of XPE Sports ahead of the team's offseason program, and he's now working with former NFL wideout Anquan Boldin on his route-running techniques. Sutton focused on being more explosive with the ball in his hands while working with Villani. The 23-year-old will be leaned on more heavily heading into his second year, especially if Emmanuel Sanders is slow to recover from his Achilles injury. He'll be a popular target in 2019 drafts after catching 42 passes for 704 yards and four touchdowns in his rookie season with Case Keenum throwing him passes.

From RotoBaller

Sony Michel May 24 12:53pm ET

New England Patriots RB Sony Michel didn't participate in the team's OTA workouts Thursday, May 23, and one team beat writer says it's possible that the team is limiting Michel's offseason workload.

Fantasy Spin: Michel matched his 13-game regular-season TD total (six) in three playoff games as he enjoyed a strong postseason. Despite the addition of third-round RB Damien Harris, Michel should be drafted as a solid RB2.

Adam Jones May 24 12:13pm ET

Free-agent CB Adam Jones (Broncos) announced his retirement Friday, May 23, posting a video to his Instagram account saying that 'it's official that I'm done with the NFL.'

Gerald McCoy May 24 11:33am ET

Updating previous reports, free-agent DT Gerald McCoy (Buccaneers) has received interest from 10 teams, and he has received offers as high as $11 million per year.

Lamar Jackson May 24 10:13am ET

Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson struggled with his accuracy in organized team activities, and he especially had trouble in the red zone. Jackson showed increased velocity, but several of his passes wobbled through the air. Jackson has impressed with his work in the team's conditioning program this offseason.

Fantasy Spin: Jackson has tremendous upside due to his legs, but he's a work in progress through the air. The silver lining is he appears to be a hard worker, which provides hope for future development. Jackson is a midrange QB1 in fantasy.