The 2016 NFL season has come to a close, with the final chapter, Super Bowl LI in Houston, serving as an instant classic. Although the Atlanta Falcons came up short in a thrilling 34-28 overtime clash against the New England Patriots, two former Tigers gave it their all for the Falcons on football’s biggest stage.
Atlanta’s pass rush was a force to be reckoned with for the entirety of the game, with the Falcons collecting five sacks and eight tackles for loss. Defensive linemen Vic Beasley and Grady Jarrett were key cogs for the Falcons’ pass-rushing unit on the night, like they had been all season long up to that point.
Beasley made his presence felt in the backfield and collected a hit on the quarterback and a pass deflection to show for it. The Super Bowl appearance capped off an outstanding breakout season for the second-year defensive end that saw him earn All-Pro and Pro Bowl selections after leading the league with 15.5 sacks and six forced fumbles. Honored with the Deacon Jones Award on Saturday for being the top sack-producer in the NFL, Beasley definitely established himself as one of the league’s best pass rushers this season.
As for Jarrett, he played perhaps the best game of his young career under the brightest of lights. Tying a Super Bowl record and equaling his regular season sack total with three on Sunday night, Jarrett was virtually unstoppable, disrupting several New England drives as a result. Credited with five combined tackles, four quarterback hits and the aforementioned three sacks, Jarrett was arguably the best defensive performer in Super Bowl LI and should be expected to carry that momentum forward into next season.