The New England Patriots scored 31 unanswered points to defeat the Atlanta Falcons in overtime, 34-28, at NRG Stadium in Houston on Sunday, making Tom Brady the first quarterback to win five Super Bowl games.
Defensive end Dwight Freeney has built his illustrious NFL career around his signature spin move. But he didn’t want spin from his next NFL team.
He said that’s the reason he turned down offers from other suitors and wound up signing with the Atlanta Falcons, even though they were a ho-hum 18-30 over the last three seasons.
“I just went with my heart,” said Freeney, 36, who spent his first 11 seasons with Indianapolis, followed by two with San Diego and one with Atlanta. “What sold me is how bad they really wanted me. It’s good to feel wanted on that level, this being my 15th year.”
Freeney is one of four Falcons players with Super Bowl experience, having won one and lost one with the Colts. By comparison, 22 members of this season’s New England Patriots have played on the NFL’s biggest stage.
Although he’s had just three sacks this season, Freeney — who routinely registered double digits in that category earlier in his career — has been hugely instrumental as a mentor to younger players. Chief among those is outside linebacker Vic Beasley, who led the NFL with 15½ sacks this season.
“He’s meant so much to me,” Beasley said of Freeney. “Bringing him on this team and bringing him into the organization has been a great help. He just preaches a work-hard mentality.”
For the Falcons, bringing in seasoned defensive linemen hasn’t always worked. Six years ago, they tried that with Ray Edwards, a veteran from the Minnesota Vikings, and he didn’t last a full two seasons. He wasn’t productive, and his attitude eventually led to him being shown the door.