By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — When it came to selecting players to be mic’d up for Super Bowl LIII, the folks at NFL Films opted to go for MVP-caliber players: Julian Edelman of the Patriots, and Aaron Donald of the Rams. These were solid choices.
The abilities of Edelman — who ended up being named the game’s MVP — are obvious. Donald, meanwhile, is the best defensive player in the NFL. If the Rams were going to win the game, Donald would likely have played a major role.
Alas, the Rams didn’t win. And when it came time to put together all of the mic’d up shows following the game, the NFL Films people had to use what they had.
And what they had was a whole lot of trash talk from Donald.
Donald was shown somewhat taunting Tom Brady for … getting rid of a pass quickly.
“I’ma beat your ass!” Donald yelled in Brady’s direction. “You better get it out quick! You better throw it quick! You better!”
Donald also seemed to be trying to bully left guard Joe Thuney, intimating that a real man would be playing him one-on-one instead of relying on some help.
“Gimme one-on-one. One-on-one. Amigo-amigo, huh? Huh?!” Donald yelled.
Donald also hurled Brady to the ground, which required a talking-to from referee John Parry, who warned Donald that he “almost” threw a flag for roughing the passer.
We also saw Donald issue a little shove to center David Andrews in frustration after once again getting eliminated from a play.
All of it is part of the game, which the Rams were very much in until late. But when the Patriots drove 69 yards in under three minutes for the game’s lone touchdown, the wind was taken out of the Rams’ sails. That was a drive for which Donald felt responsible, as he finally got those one-on-one matchups he had begged for earlier in the game.
Those one-on-one matchups came, fittingly, against Thuney, who expertly kept Donald from getting to Brady on two separate passes. The first went for 18 yards to start the drive, and the second was the 29-yarder to Rob Gronkowski — the most significant offensive play of the game.
“That last drive was on me,” Donald told Ndamukong Suh. “That last drive was on me. I had two one-on-ones. I didn’t win ’em. I gotta win those. If all I get is two, I gotta win those. That’s on me. I’m a make it up to ya’ll. Watch. I promise that. ”
Donald had one more chance to back up those words, but the Patriots ran right at him from their own 5-yard line on a second-and-9. Donald got washed out by a double team, and Sony Michel ran for 26 yards on the play. A few plays later, Donald was blocked by Shaq Mason on a run to the other side, which went for 26 more yards to set up the putaway field goal.
Donald didn’t really have a great chance to disrupt either run, necessarily. Nevertheless, he didn’t make good on his promise to Suh.
Donald finished the game with one solo tackle and four assists, while hitting the quarterback just one time — a hit which “almost” drew a flag.
When Donald strapped on that microphone before the game, he was likely envisioning a scenario where he had a tremendous game and led his team to a championship, with the incredible footage captured forever in NFL films lore. Instead, he ended up being shown talking a whole lot of smack without being able to back it up. As with anything else in life, you win some, you lose some.
Still, that’s really what makes these mic’d up programs so great, especially in the biggest game of the year. It’s cliche to throw out a line like “the thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat,” but there’s really no other way to capture the distinct contrast in emotion from the winning side and the losing side.
As for the elimination of the back-to-back NFL Defensive Player of the Year in this game plan, big-time credit is due to Dante Scarnecchia, Josh McDaniels, Ivan Fears, Nick Caley and of course Bill Belichick. And equal credit goes to the offensive line, which didn’t take the bait from any of that smack talk and instead focused intently on doing their job.