It’s only been 29 years. Not that long right? Well, you know the saying; “records are made to be broken”, but why has no one taken Jerry Rice’s record down for most receiving yards in a Super Bowl? There have been great receivers over the years that have played in the big games but none has done it yet. Julio Jones of the Atlanta Falcons may just be the one do finally get it done against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 51.
Jones is not your typical receiver. Hell, in some ways he may be better than Rice ever was. Rice was not slow, despite initial reports that he didn’t have elite receiver speed but what happened when he was given an inch of space? Jones is fast, I mean Usain Bolt fast. For the season he caught 83 passes for 1409 yards with an average of 17 yards per catch. Those were not all Go Routes, Jones could take a three-yard dump pass and make something out of nothing. Covering #11 will be the Patriots biggest nightmare in Super Bowl 51.
But, can he gain over 215 yards against a Patriots secondary that is one of the league’s best?
Yes, and here’s why. It starts with QB Matt Ryan and RB Devonta Freeman. Ryan should be named NFL MVP this year and what he has done in 2016 has been nothing short of outstanding. Ryan has always been good but this season he has managed to finally combine all his talents into one and as he did so, the Falcons became the best offense in the NFL this year.
As good as the Patriots defense has been, the only true top receiver they have faced this season was Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Brown went over 100 yards only once in their two meetings. But, the Falcons are not the Steelers and despite what many may think, Jones is not Brown. For his career, Jones has reached 150+ yards receiving 10 times in his career, including twice in the playoffs. Jones can break this record.
If the ground game can get going early against the stout Patriots front line then the Patriots will be forced to apply single coverage and pray that their secondary plays the game of their lives. But, what makes the Falcons so dangerous is just not the hands of Jones. Their RBs can catch the ball out the backfield as well. If Tevin Coleman and Freeman can reach the second-level and exploit the middle of the field then it opens up Jones over the top.
Rice had a monster game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl 23 as he caught 11 passes for 215 yards. Jones is a household name but a record-setting performance against one of the best defense and passing Rice in the same game will put him on another level.