By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
ATLANTA (CBS) — If there’s one way to really stifle Tom Brady and the Patriots’ offense, it’s to generate pressure up the middle. As a pocket quarterback, Brady’s most deadly when he has the time to stand tall while scanning the field before stepping up and delivering strikes from sideline to sideline. Take that comfort level away from him, and the entire Patriots’ offense sputters.
And if there’s one man who’s capable of disrupting everything the Patriots want to do, it’s Aaron Donald. The one-man wrecking crew has caused headaches for opposing offenses for years, and come Sunday night in the Super Bowl, he figures to be the focal point for the Patriots’ offensive line on every single snap.
He certainly already has the attention of Brady, who offered just about the highest form of praise for the defensive lineman.
“Well, he does everything better than everyone else,” Brady said.
That about sums it up.
But Brady continued: “He’s incredibly explosive, he’s got a great motor, he’s got a variety of moves. He’s just an incredibly difficult matchup. He’s got great leverage, so he’s got the power. He’s got the speed. And he’s got a great burst.”
Brady said Donald, even at age 27, already ranks among the best pass rushers in history.
“I’ve gone against a lot of great pass rushers, from Jason Taylor to Michael Strahan to Terrell Suggs to Von Miller, J.J. Watt, Richard Seymour,” Brady said. “Aaron is right up there with those guys. He’s one of the best to ever play the game.”
Still, Brady is keenly aware of all of the other threats on the Rams’ defense, from the bigger names like Ndamukong Suh to the slightly less-known players like Samson Ebukam.
“I think you realize that when you play great defenses, they’re going to make their plays. I think our focus is going to be so much on not making a bad play worse, and just trying to really concentrate when the ball’s in my hands and not losing the ball,” Brady said. “I mean, Suh’s done such a great job of not only getting to the quarterback over the years but knocking the ball off the quarterback. Aaron Donald does that better than anyone in the league at this point. [Dante] Fowler got it off me in Jacksonville this year — kind of the play of the game in that game. So, [Michael] Brocker’s a hell of a player, Ebukam’s a great player, so they definitely have a great D-line. We’re just going to have to hang in there and fight ’em out all day and try to be as competitive and stay balanced — you know, you just can’t become a 50, 60 pass game, and just let them tee off on you. They’re too good rushers, and I think Aqib [Talib] and Marcus Peters are great interceptors, you can’t be sloppy with the football. It’s just, it’s a huge challenge.”
Brady’s Rams praise was not quite finished, as he made sure to get in a few words about defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.
“Wade’s obviously an incredible coach, an incredible coordinator,” Brady said. “That’s what these heavyweight bouts are all about. Hopefully we can make more plays than them.”