SAN JOSE — The Broncos and the Panthers are the main attraction at Super Bowl 50, but the Patriots’ performance in their 20-18 loss to Denver in the AFC Championship game was still a hot topic Monday as the media world descended on the Bay Area.
Tom Brady was hit a career-high 20 times in the loss, with pass rushers DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller teeing off on tackles Sebastian Vollmer and Marcus Cannon.
The crowd noise at Sports Authority Stadium forced the Patriots to use a silent snap count and didn’t allow Brady to mix up his cadence.
“I could hardly hear myself talk into my own microphone,” said Boomer Esiason, who called the game for Westwood One radio and will be a part of CBS’s Super Bowl pregame show. “I forgot just how loud Mile High Stadium could be and how difficult it must have been for Vollmer and Cannon.
“With those guys [Ware and Miller] coming off the end like that, they were like sprinters. It makes it a very, very difficult situation. I give Brady a lot of credit for standing there and taking that beating and almost getting his team a win.”
Brady hasn’t drawn much criticism for the loss, but his bosses haven’t been so lucky. Offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo left the team last week after not having his contract renewed, while Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels have been criticized for not having in-game adjustments.
Former Patriots offensive lineman Matt Light was particularly critical of the coaching staff, saying Friday on WAAF 97.7-FM that a lack of preparation cost the Patriots.
“It blows my mind that, really, the game was lost because of a snap count,” Light said. “I don’t think that they practiced their snap count at all, really, to any degree. We went into a game being able to snap silent count five different ways. Not two. Five. And in that game, I watched them on the snap count and I was blown away. You’re handcuffing your tackles, and that’s what happens when you don’t effectively run a silent snap count. And it was terrible to watch.”
“It wasn’t the talent on the field. They could have beat that team with a little bit more preparation and doing things a little better, and it didn’t happen.”
Monday night, Miller said that Ware provided tips to his teammates about the Patriots’ snap count, but wouldn’t go as far to say that center Bryan Stork was tipping off the timing.
“DeMarcus, he’s seen every type of snap count or cadence out there, so he’s definitely able to give us information and give us little beads to get off of the ball,” Miller said. “I don’t think [Stork] was giving it away. Every center has the head bob.”
Esiason said it wasn’t just a matter of the Broncos timing the snap count. The noise also prevented the Patriots from using an uptempo offense, and the Broncos were also able to time their jump based on the play clock.
“They know when it gets under three seconds on the down clock, the defenders can see that, so they can anticipate that,” Esiason said. “Ultimately if that game is played at Gillette (Stadium), I think it’s a Patriot win.”
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The NFL changed the timing of its annual Super Bowl media day, moving the event from Tuesday morning to Monday night for prime-time television.
The format was the same, with the Broncos and Panthers each getting an hour in front of reporters at the San Jose Sharks’ SAP Center. And there were the usual whacky costumes and off-the–wall questions. An Austrian TV reporter dressed as a downhill skier, a Mexican radio station asked questions with a hand puppet, and Miller was asked about his favorite dance moves and “Star Wars” character.
The NFL also added a red carpet element to the event. The star players on each teams were introduced on a catwalk built as a replica of the Golden Gate Bridge.
“We’ve come a long way,” Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said. “It just seems to get bigger and bigger.”
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One of the Broncos’ team buses was involved in a minor accident Monday afternoon when taking the players back to their hotel after practice.
The accident occurred on US Route 101 southbound, and team spokesman Patrick Smythe said no injuries were sustained and the team arrived safely back at their hotel in Santa Clara.
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Levi’s Stadium opened in 2014 with beautiful amenities and technological advancements, but the 49ers’ stadium had significant issues with the condition of its turf over its first two seasons.
The 49ers had to re-sod the turf five times in 2014, and this year Ravens kicker Justin Tucker missed a field goal when a chunk of turf gave way under his plant foot.
The NFL planted 75,000 square feet of new sod at the stadium beginning Jan. 11, and 49ers CEO Jed York said Monday that he is not concerned about the field condition for Sunday night’s game. No events have been held on the turf since it was installed.
“Nice and green, nice and thick, lots of rain,” York said.
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The Santa Clara weather forecast calls for rain through Wednesday, but calls for plenty of sunshine Thursday through Sunday, and conditions for Sunday’s game could be pristine: high of 72, low of 48, with no rain.
Ben Volin can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @BenVolin.