ATLANTA — With the eyes of the football world focused on them, a few of the Rams seem to be using the Super Bowl platform to talk smack about the Patriots, and their star quarterback Tom Brady.
When will they learn?
Rams Cornerback and self-proclaimed ‘slot god’ Nickell Robey-Coleman started the week by saying that ‘age has definitely taken a toll’ on the Patriots, with specific comments directed at the duo of Tom Brady and Julian Edelman. At media night, defensive end Michael Brockers took some shots at Brady’s age as well. Ndamukong Suh had some choice words for his college teammate Rex Burkhead, and Aqib Talib…well Aqib Talib is Aqib Talib.
Apparently nobody gave the Rams a history lesson on what happens to players and teams who openly goad the Patriots in the media.
The example that immediately comes to mind is former Steelers safety Anthony Smith. Before a late-season matchup in Foxboro in 2007, Smith guaranteed a win for the 9-3 Steelers. Tom Brady and company preceded to pick him apart during the game, culminating in one of Tom Brady’s most legendary touchdown passes and a 34-10 Patriots win. After the game, we got a rare brag from Bill Belichick, who, when asked about Smith, replies “we play a lot better safeties than him.”
The Rams aren’t the first Super Bowl opponent to throw shade at the Patriots either. Before Super Bowl XXXIX, Eagles receiver Freddie Mitchell said that he didn’t know that names of any of the Patriots cornerbacks (the Patriots were riddled with injuries at the position during the season) and that he “had something” coming for safety Rodney Harrison. The Patriots would go on to win the game, and Mitchell was held to just one catch, the last catch of his NFL career.
You’d think in the decades since these instances, teams would learn, but no. Before last year’s AFC Divisional round, Titans safety Kevin Byard remarked that he was going to “make Tom Brady look like Blake Bortles” and joined in the conversation about Rob Gronkowski being washed up. The Patriots targeted Byard relentlessly during the game, and he struggled to back up his words, especially when matched up one-on-one with Gronk. The Patriots would win that game 35-14.
It hasn’t been just members of opposing secondaries who have felt the Patriots rath. Before the 2004 AFC Divisional Round game, Colts kicker (yes, kicker) Mike Vanderjagt called the Patriots “ripe for the picking”. He added that the Patriots “are not as good as the beginning of  and not as good as last year”, referring to the Colts back to back losses to the Patriots, including the previous year’s AFC Championship game. To Vanderjagt’s credit, he was responsible for the entirety of the Colts scoring in the game following the comments, hitting his lone field goal attempt in a 20-3 loss.
The consequences of knocking the Patriots aren’t short lived either. After taking the head coach position with the Jets in 2009, Rex Ryan told the media at his introductory press conference that he was “not here to kiss Belichick’s rings.” That claim actually got off to a promising start, with Ryan’s Jets beating the Patriots in the 2010 divisional round, but that was one of only four wins Ryan would get against Belichick as the head coach of the Jets before being fired in 2014.
Ryan spent two more years in the AFC East as the head coach of the Bills, losing three of four matchups with the Patriots (his one win coming against a third-string quarterback with a broken thumb).
Just a few examples of Patriots opponents fueling the fire for Old Takes Exposed. The Rams are at risk of adding themselves to that list, and with four days left until the game, chances are they’ll continue to pile on. Will the Rams be yet another example of an opponent with a bark louder than their bite? Or will they be a rare example of a unit that backs up their talk?
For all CLNS Patriots Videos SUBSCRIBE to our CLNS Media YOUTUBE Channel.
For the most in depth and comprehensive player and game analysis check out Patriots All-22 with host and Patriots beat reporter Evan Lazar. Listen and Subscribe HERE
BOTTOM OF ALL POSTS