If you’re of a conspiratorial mindset, you can find plenty to satisfy your “the NFL rigged the game for the Patriots” theories. And here’s a beauty: the first guy to congratulate Tom Brady after the New England Patriots 24-20 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars was … referee Clete Blakeman:
First guy to congratulate Brady? Number 34. What a teammate! pic.twitter.com/azXq3qgN43
— OurState_CSU (@OurStateCSU) January 21, 2018
As the clock runs out, you can see Blakeman giving Brady congratulations on advancing to his eighth Super Bowl. Evidence of conspiracy? Of course not. But it’s more than enough to set off the anti-Patriots contingent … which, at this point, includes pretty much everyone outside of Massachusetts and some lame bandwagoners.
Add that to the fact that the Patriots had exactly one — ONE — penalty called against them all game. Per NFL Research, that’s the fewest penalties called on one team in a playoff game since the 2011 AFC championship … when the Patriots had exactly one penalty called on them in a victory against the Baltimore Ravens.
More NFL coverage from Yahoo Sports:
• Dan Wetzel: Jaguars explain Brady’s comeback
• Super Bowl: The ghost of Foles vs. the legend of Brady
• 49ers QB Garoppolo cashes in on Patriots’ AFC title
• Meet America’s sports power couple: The Ertz’s