OK, so, before we even get started, I should acknowledge that this week's piece is a bit disingenuous.
So treat this more as a collection of stellar play within a game that lacked what one might consider to be traditional highlights. And we can all agree that, on the grander scale, the Patriots are mostly unstoppable.
Julian Edelman, New England Patriots
Edelman had about as complete of a game as you'll ever see from a receiver.
Everyone focuses on his statistical production, and that's fair, because while he didn't find the end zone, he did everything in between to help the Patriots' offense sustain a pulse. Edelman's run blocking was about as effective and relentless as his pass catching. It won't show up in the numbers, but the diminutive receiver made sure Los Angeles defensive backs knew where he was on every down, constantly blocking with authority, even when away from the play.
And then, of course, there were his 10 catches for 141 yards. Edelman did a lot of what worked against the Chiefs, making timely grabs to keep the chains moving and providing much-needed balance to New England's offense. After a quick-strike drive scored the game's only touchdown, the Patriots finished things off by running the ball with authority. Everything Edelman did prior made that possible.
They have yet another Lombardi Trophy to admire now as a result.
Also, obligatory congratulations to the Super Bowl MVP on becoming the first Mid-American Conference product to earn the honor. As a MAC school and fellow Kent State graduate, I know the conference is beaming with pride this week.
Also considered ...
Cory Littleton, Los Angeles Rams
Littleton was all over the field during Super Bowl LIII. It seemed as if the linebacker was in on every defensive stop.
His stat line backs up this thought. Littleton's 10 tackles led all defenders on either team, and he paired that with two passes defended as Los Angeles' defense tried its best to keep the Rams in the game, even as the offense struggled all evening.
They aren't taking home a ring, but Littleton can take pride in the fact he gave it his all on the game's biggest stage.
Stephon Gilmore, New England Patriots
There to greet the ball with his two hands was Gilmore. The defensive back who owns a striking resemblance to R&B star Ty Dolla $ign scored his own major hit with his interception, which stopped the Rams dead in their tracks and ended their one true chance at scoring a touchdown.
He'll have a ring to show for it.