Monday, February 06, 2017
Trey Flowers pressures Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan in the 4th quarter.
February 5, 2017
By Mark Daniels
HOUSTON - The Super Bowl is a stage where unknown players can turn into stars in an instant. For the Patriots, on the defensive side of the ball, no one had a bigger impact than Trey Flowers.
The second-year defensive end, who finished the season with a team-high seven sacks, might not have been a household name before Super Bowl LI, but he very well could be after the Patriots' dramatic, 34-28 overtime win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.
The 23-year-old finished with 2.5 sacks including a game-changing sack on Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan late in the fourth quarter.
"Trey Flowers is one of the better players in this league," Alan Branch said. "He's definitely going to have a lot of people paying attention to him next year because, I mean, that guy's a monster. I think he's definitely one of the better pass rushers and all-around defensive linemen in the league."
Flowers, who played in just one game last year, didn't start until Week 10. But when he was inserted into the main rotation, the Patriots defensive line changed for the better. That was clear on Sunday.
On the Falcons' first series, Flowers came up with his first sack - on third down - for a loss of 10.
"Last year, I didn't play a lot, but I saw the other side of it," Flowers said. "Being able to sit out and just the opportunity seeming to fade away, it could have. But I just keep playing and whatever my opportunity came I made the best of my opportunity and I just made sure I was prepared."
With 52 seconds left in the third quarter, Flowers came up with his second sack - again on third down to force a punt. The Patriots offense was able to turn the next drive into three points, but the biggest play of the game for Flowers came at 3:56 of the third quarter.
After a 27-yard catch by Julio Jones, the Falcons were in field-goal range. The Patriots likely would've lost if Atlanta got three more points, but two plays after the big catch, Flowers sacked Ryan for a loss of 12. The play pushed Atlanta out of field-goal range and the Falcons punted. Tom Brady took over after that.
"It was a good play call," Flowers said. "I just went inside on the guard and just kept getting vertical. We knew he always likes to attack the spot and [Ryan] likes to step up in the pocket, so anytime you get some inside penetration, he was right there to get the sack. I was just blessed I had the opportunity to make the play when the time came."