Rozner: Big game offers Chicago Bears some Super clues

  • New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick congratulates Malcolm Mitchell after defeating the Atlanta Falcons in overtime at the NFL Super Bowl 51 football game Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017, in Houston. The Patriots defeated the Falcons 34-28.

    New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick congratulates Malcolm Mitchell after defeating the Atlanta Falcons in overtime at the NFL Super Bowl 51 football game Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017, in Houston. The Patriots defeated the Falcons 34-28.

Posted2/8/2017 1:00 AM

There's always much to learn from the NFL postseason, and though it doesn't all translate to the local 3-13 football team, there are plenty of useful take-aways, pun fully intended.

Illegal contact


There's holding on both sides of the ball on every play of an NFL game.

It's a given.

But the Falcons took it to another level in the Super Bowl when they appeared to have instructions to hold -- or interfere with -- New England receivers on every snap.

It's a brilliant strategy. Officials don't want to throw flags on every play and at some point they begin to look the other way.

On the pick-6 drive, Atlanta was flagged on three consecutive third-down plays. Sure, it gave the Patriots an automatic first down each time, but it's only a 5-yard infraction and it may have prevented big plays.

New England receivers were frustrated and it was an effective way to prevent the Pats from moving quickly down the field.

While the Falcons continued to hold, the refs didn't call another penalty on the Atlanta defensive backfield until the overtime drive when Martellus Bennett was mugged on the goal line, a span of 36 minutes.

Yeah, the refs just got tired of getting booed by the Atlanta fans.

Might be something for Vic Fangio to remember the next time Jordy Nelson has a chance to beat the Bears.

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One goal

New England rookie receiver Malcolm Mitchell doesn't deny that Tom Brady is a superstar or the greatest of all time, but he says you wouldn't know it from being around him.

"He doesn't act like he's different," Mitchell said. "He works harder than everyone else and he doesn't act like he's special. The coaches treat him the same as everyone else.

"I think that matters a lot around here."


Work ethic

Bill Belichick was chanting, "No days off, no days off," at the parade Tuesday, and he might have meant it literally.

At his news conference Monday, Belichick was already done celebrating.

"As great as today feels, we're five weeks behind most teams in the league," Belichick said. "In a couple weeks, we're going to be looking at the combine. All-star games have already occurred, and in a month we're into free agency.


"I'd say if you don't do a good job with your football team in February, March and April, you're probably going to see that in November, December and January."

Roger that

For the most part, the Patriots took the high road with Roger Goodell, ignoring the commissioner frequently, but also keeping their criticism subtle.

After the MVP news conference Monday, Tom Brady might have sent the best message when he walked out of the room as Bill Belichick took the stage, rather than sit next to Goodell, which is the traditional move.

But then on Monday afternoon, when the Pats got off the plane in Boston, defensive coordinator Matt Patricia was spotted wearing a shirt that portrayed Goodell as a clown.

What's the worst that can happen, another ridiculous suspension?

Choke or comeback?

This will be forever debated, but the belief here is it was more comeback than choke against a very tired Falcons defense that was on the field for 93 plays, as opposed to 46 the other way.

As for the Atlanta play calls, it's fair to wonder about the third-and-1 dropback on their own 36 that led to a sack-fumble with 8:31 remaining and up 16 points.

And then there were the pass plays when Atlanta was in field-goal range with a chance to ice the game late, leading to a sack, a hold, an incompletion and a punt.

Atlanta fans will be pondering those calls for a very long time.

Just thinking

Atlanta is really fast on both sides of the ball. Fast good, slow bad.

Just drafting

Malcolm Mitchell (fourth round), James White (fourth round), Tom Brady (sixth round) and Julian Edelman (seventh round). Danny Amendola was an undrafted free agent and Chris Hogan was undrafted and cut by four teams.

Just digging

According to ESPN, the Patriots over the last decade have by far the most snaps from undrafted players in the NFL.

And finally …

Pats tight end Martellus Bennett, on his impending free agency: "You know they overpay Super Bowl champions."

• Hear Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.

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