Not surprising for a Belichick squad.
Kevin Jairaj-USA Today Sports
The Patriots and Falcons are set to battle it out on Sunday night in a Super Bowl LI rematch, but both teams appear to be making sure they don’t get caught up in what happened in February.
Atlanta’s players and coaches made it clear that they put the Super Bowl collapse behind them over the summer, although Sunday’s embarrassing loss to the Dolphins would suggest otherwise. The Falcons jumped out to a 17-0 lead at halftime, yet failed to score a point in the second half. Atlanta lacked an identity on offense in the final two stanzas of the game, and looked very much like the team that couldn’t close out Super Bowl LI, except this time they were facing an inferior opponent.
As for the Patriots, who were on the right side of the 28-3 comeback, the coaching staff has made sure the team focuses on the task at hand, rather than relishing in what they managed to pull off in February. Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski spoke to the media on Wednesday, and revealed that the Patriots have been directed not to discuss February’s matchup, and to instead focus on the 2017 Falcons team in their preparation this week.
“We’ve been given really highly strict rules that we are not allowed to talk about that game, so you’re not really going to get any information from anyone about that,” said Gronkowski, who missed the tail end of last season with a back injury and did not play in the Super Bowl, via Zack Cox of NESN. “I’m just looking forward to this week. They look good on film. They’re a fast team, a physical team and it’s going to be a tough game coming this Sunday night.”
Patriots fullback James Develin further reinforced that point.
“We’ve got to move on,” he said. “We’ve got to get ready for a relatively new (Falcons) team, and we have to just prepare for this one as best we can. It’s going to be a fight Sunday night.”
That mindset is part of why the Patriots have been so successful over the past 16 years. They’re always focused on the task in front of them, rather than living in the past.