NFL: Slow starters: Pats have no 1st quarter SB points with Brady
BLOOMINGTON (AP) — Tom Brady has accomplished just about everything when it comes to playing in the Super Bowl.
His five titles and four Super Bowl MVPs are more than any other quarterback. He has posted the two biggest comeback wins in Super Bowl history, including last year’s rally from 25 points down to beat Atlanta. He has thrown for more yards or touchdowns than any quarterback on the biggest stage.
Perhaps the only accomplishment missing seems like a relatively simple one: leading a first-quarter scoring drive.
In one of the more surprising Super Bowl stats, the Patriots have failed to score a single point in the first quarter in their seven Super Bowl trips in the Brady-Bill Belichick era.
“We’re trying to score every time we take the field,” Brady said. “There’s a little caveat to that in my opinion. In 2007, it was our first drive of the game, it just happened to be the first play of the second quarter.
“But it was the first time we touched it. So we did score when we got it first. But I’d love to score 21 points in the first quarter if we can but obviously this defense can make it really tough for us.”
The Patriots did score on that first possession in their first meeting against the Giants. But because New York held the ball for 9:59 to open the game with a field-goal drive, Laurence Maroney’s 1-yard run came on the first play of the second quarter.
The first-quarter scoring woes in the Super Bowl led to a memorable moment from an NFL Network documentary about last year’s title of linebackers coach Brian Flores addressing a banquet to honor the team.
“Coach Belichick, prior to the game, looked right at Tom Brady and goes ‘Tom, we’ve been to six Super Bowls together, and we’ve never scored a point in the first quarter. Can we get that done?'” Flores told the crowd. “I look around and I go, ‘Man, we’re going to score 30 points in the first quarter.'”
Instead it didn’t happen. It was another first-quarter shutout as the Patriots went three-and-out the first time they had the ball and then stalled near midfield following two sacks on the second drive. The third drive ended when LeGarrette Blount fumbled on the second play of the second quarter.
Brady has been on the field for a first-quarter score when his intentional grounding penalty in the end zone against the Giants in 2012 led to a safety for New York. That was one of four scores in the first quarter against the Patriots in their seven trips with Belichick and Brady.
“Look, we try to score in every game,” Belichick said. “I know that’s probably hard to understand, but we try to go out and score and keep the other team from scoring. That’s our goal every game.”
It’s not as if slow starts are a chronic problem for Brady and the Patriots. Since his first season as the starter in 2001, New England leads the NFL on first-quarter scoring with 5.7 points per game.
The Patriots are only a tick behind that at 5.5 points per first quarter in the playoff rounds prior to the Super Bowl with Brady at quarterback.
But for some reason that all changes on the biggest stage, even though it hasn’t stopped the Patriots from winning five Super Bowl titles.
“I would say that’s the emphasis every week,” receiver Phillip Dorsett said. “We play better when we start fast, and that’s a big emphasis every week, not just in the Super Bowl but in the weeks prior to this. I mean, we have a better record when we’re playing fast and we get out to a good start, when we get points on the board on that first drive. So, we always like to do that.”