Grades from every Patriots and Falcons Super Bowl since 1996

See the PFF game grade for each player in every Patriots or Falcons Super Bowl since the 1996 NFL season.

| 4 months ago
(Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

(Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Grades from every Patriots and Falcons Super Bowl since 1996


With Super Bowl LI quickly approaching, Pro Football Focus’ analysis team recently dove back into the tape archives to grade past Super Bowls with a connection to the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots.

We went back as far as the 1996 NFL season (Super Bowl played in 1997) to see the very beginnings of this New England juggernaut, as well as taking in the one and only previous occasion the Atlanta Falcons have made it to the big game. Each Super Bowl received PFF’s full treatment of grading and data collection.

Super Bowl XXXI

Green Bay Packers 35, New England Patriots 21 (Full recap here)

Jan. 26, 1997, in New Orleans

This wasn’t the first Super Bowl appearance from the Patriots’ franchise (they had been on the losing end against the great 1985 Bears in Super Bowl XX), but it was the first of the Robert Kraft era, which ultimately was the beginning of the dynasty we have come to take for granted. The Patriots had finished that season 11-5, winning their division before comfortably dispatching both Pittsburgh and Jacksonville en route to the Super Bowl. There they ran into the Green Bay Packers, who had ended the year with a 13-3 record before scoring 30 points in both of their playoff games heading into the Super Bowl.

Ultimately the Patriots’ defense, which had been riding down the stretch and through the playoffs, couldn’t slow down Green Bay’s offense, which once again posted more than 30 points for the win.

Click the tables below to expand.

Packers grades from Super Bowl XXXI

Packers SB defense grades '96 season

Patriots '96 Super Bowl grades

Patriots SB defense grades '96 season

Super Bowl XXXIII

Denver Broncos 34, Atlanta Falcons 19 (Full recap here)

Jan. 31, 1999, in Miami Gardens, Fla.

The only time the Atlanta Falcons have been in the Super Bowl previously came following the 1998 season and featured the final appearance of quarterback John Elway’s Hall of Fame career for the Denver Broncos. Atlanta finished the 1998 regular season with a 14-2 record thanks to RB Jamal Anderson racking up 1,846 rushing yards over before enduring a tough gauntlet in the NFC to get by San Francisco (12-4) and then Minnesota (15-1) before facing Denver. The Minnesota game came down to a missed 39-yard field goal by Vikings kicker Gary Anderson to give the Falcons life.

In the Super Bowl, they got no such break, and were never really in the running, with Denver getting out to a 24-6 lead before coasting home over the final quarter.

Click the tables below to expand.

Broncos '98 season Super Bowl grades

Broncos SB defense grades '98 season

Falcons '98 season Super Bowl grades

Falcons SB defense grades '98 season

Super Bowl XXXVI

New England Patriots 20, St. Louis Rams 17 (Full recap here)

Feb. 3, 2002, in New Orleans

The game that launched the dynasty. This was the coming out party for Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, Adam Vinatieri and the foundation of the great Patriots teams we have seen come since.

The story is NFL folklore at this stage. New England had lost their starting QB Drew Bledsoe early in the season and started 0-2 before Tom Brady came in and led the team to 11 wins in their final 14 games as starter. In the playoffs, the Patriots needed the “tuck rule” to overcome the Oakland Raiders in overtime before seeing off Pittsburgh. For the Super Bowl, they met the “Greatest Show on Turf” Rams at the height of their powers. The Rams had won the Super Bowl two years previously and had gone 13-3 in 2001 before sailing through the NFC playoffs that season. Against the Patriots, however, they were limited to just 17 points, and a dynasty was born.

Click the tables below to expand.

Patriots '01 season Super Bowl grades

Patriots SB defense grades '01 season

Rams '01 season Super Bowl grades

Rams SB defense grades '01 season

Super Bowl XXXVIII

New England Patriots 32, Carolina Panthers 29 (Full recap here)

Feb. 1, 2004, in Houston

After winning the Super Bowl, the Patriots could only go 9-7 the following season and missed the playoffs, but in 2003, they were back to their winning ways, finishing 14-2 with the league’s best record. New England made it past Tennessee and then Indianapolis in the AFC playoffs before facing QB Jake Delhomme and the Carolina Panthers in the Super Bowl. This was a game that remained close throughout, with no score until late in the second quarter and an 11-point New England lead early in the fourth quickly being pegged back by the Panthers, who took the lead for the first time late in the game. That set up one of the best finishes in Super Bowl history as both teams traded scores before the Patriots were able to get in position for a winning kick with around a minute remaining.

Click the tables below to expand.

Patriots '03 season Super Bowl grades

Patriots SB defense grades '03 season

Panthers '03 season Super Bowl grades

Panthers SB defense grades '03 season

Super Bowl XXXIX

New England Patriots 24, Philadelphia Eagles 21

Feb. 6, 2005, in Jacksonville, Fla.

The following season, the Patriots were back in the Super Bowl, boasting back-to-back 14-2 regular season displays. This time they waltzed through the playoffs, suffocating the Indianapolis Colts’ offense so badly that the league felt the need to “re-emphasize” contact rules on receivers after the season. The Patriots then put up 41 points on the Steelers before the facing the Philadelphia Eagles in Jacksonville.

The Eagles had been banging on the door for awhile, but the acquisition of WR Terrell Owens had given them the spark they needed to finally make the big game. Sadly for them, QB Donovan McNabb imploded at key times in the game, and the Patriots were able to win their third championship of the Belichick/Brady era.

Click the tables below to expand.

Patriots '04 season Super Bowl grades

Patriots SB defense grades '04 season

Eagles '04 season Super Bowl grades

Eagles SB defense grades '04 season

Super Bowl XLII

New York Giants 17, New England Patriots 14 (Full recap here)

Feb. 3, 2008, in Glendale, Ariz.

This was the Patriots’ fourth Super Bowl appearance in seven years, a truly remarkable feat. What made this game more memorable, however, was the fact that the team was on the brink of history after steamrolling the NFL to an undefeated season. Chasing the Miami Dolphins as the only team the NFL recognizes to finish an entire season undefeated and win the championship game, the Patriots needed one more win against the Giants, a team they squeaked past by a score of 38-35 in Week 17.

Alas for the Patriots, Eli Manning’s late-game heroics and David Tyree’s infamous “helmet catch” became the story of the decade as the New York Giants won in dramatic fashion. A team that hadn’t scored fewer than 34 points in its first eight games was held to a season-low by a team that had allowed more than 20 just once since Week 13.

Click the tables below to expand.

Giants SB offense grades '07 season

Giants SB defense grades '07 season

Patriots SB offense grades '07 season Patriots SB defense grades '07 season

Super Bowl XLVI

New York Giants 21, New England Patriots 17

Feb. 5, 2012, in Indianapolis, Ind.

The Patriots were seeking revenge for their spoiled perfect season four years earlier, and were also looking to add an impressive fourth Super Bowl win in 10 seasons. This game was a rematch from a Week 9 24-20 New York victory. The Giants ended the regular season 9-7, but finished winning three of their last four regular-season games. The Patriots, 13-3 in the regular season, won 10 straight games, including the playoffs. With the Giants claiming back-to-back upsets over the No. 1 seed, the 15-1 Green Bay Packers, and No. 2 seeded 13-3 San Francisco 49ers, New York was looking for one last upset.

A back-and-forth contest that saw New England up 17-9 in the third quarter, it was Eli Manning’s late-game heroics and another spectacular catch, this time by Mario Manningham, that gave the Giants another Super Bowl upset over the Patriots.

Click the tables below to expand.

Giants SB offense grades '11 season

Giants SB defense grades '11 season

Patriots SB offense grades '11 season Patriots SB defense grades '11 season

Super Bowl XLIX

New England Patriots 28, Seattle Seahawks 24

Feb. 1, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.

After the duo of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick won three Super Bowls in four seasons, they were looking to get back in the win column after two straight defeats at the hands of the New York Giants. Back to the same location of their first Super Bowl defeat, the Patriots and the Seahawks were considered evenly-matched in Vegas, with both teams finishing as the No. 1 seed in their respective conferences. The Seahawks were looking to secure back-to-back Super Bowl victories behind Russell Wilson after crushing Payton Manning and the Denver Broncos the year prior.

In one of the most dramatic final minutes in Super Bowl history, the Patriots rallied in the fourth quarter with 14 straight points to take a 28-24 lead on Tom Brady’s TD pass to Julian Edelman with 2.06 remaining. In a déjà vu moment, Russell Wilson had some late-game heroics of his own, with Jermaine Kearse making an acrobatic catch to put the Seahawks at the Patriots’ 5-yard line with over a minute remaining. After some questionable clock management by the Seahawks, cornerback Malcom Butler intercepted a Wilson pass at the goal line to secure the Patriots’ fourth Super Bowl victory.

Click the tables below to expand.

Patriots SB offense grades '14 season Patriots SB defense grades '14 season Seahawks SB offense grades '14 season Seahawks SB defense grades '14 season

  • Mikkel Graff

    Malcolm Butler with a 90 overall grade in Super Bowl XLIX, sign of things to come. Also shows he helped beyond the final int.

  • Mark Erickson

    Enjoyable article, although the article title seemed rather superfluous as the Falcons only had one Superbowl to analyze. Without being able to evenly evaluate both teams in their Championship appearances, this may as well have just been an article on the Patriots only.

  • GBPFan12

    Reggie White should’ve been the Superbowl MVP.
    He ended the Patriots in the 2nd half by himself.