Life comes at you fast in the NFL — in Chris Long’s case, in a good way.
In February 2016, Long was sitting at home after another 7-9 season for the (then) St. Louis Rams.
In February 2017, he was suiting up for the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI — and contributing to the greatest comeback in NFL history.
The retired defensive end joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Zolak & Bertrand” on Thursday from Radio Row in Miami to discuss that wild win over the Atlanta Falcons — and what he was thinking when the Patriots were down 28-3 in the third quarter.
“When I’m down 25 (points), it’s curtains. It’s over,” Long said. “I’ve been in St. Louis my whole life. Forget being up 25. We were never up 25.”
That’s why Long admitted he was slightly annoyed by the Patriots’ confidence in the locker room at halftime.
“In the locker room, I always remember: (Safety) Duron Harmon went, ‘We’re gonna win this game,’ ” Long recalled. “And I’m sitting there thinking to myself, ‘Let’s just get a stop. What are you talking about?’
“But guys in that locker room believed it. And I think that’s the effect of being on a winner long enough, is that you’re not cynical. You think you can come out of anything. And that’s what having the G.O.A.T. (quarterback Tom Brady) on your side is.”
That belief helped the Patriots stay the course even after allowing the Falcons to score first in the second half: New England scored 25 unanswered points in just over 20 minutes of game time before James White scored the game-winning touchdown in overtime.
The Patriots’ historic comeback also helped Long avoid what he had been bracing for since halftime.
“(Rob) Ninkovich told me leading up to the Super Bowl, ‘There’s no worse feeling than losing in the Super Bowl,’ ” Long said. ” ‘Just prepare yourself: If for some reason we lose this game, you’re gonna want to just die, dude.’
“And (that scenario is) happening. And then 60 minutes later, me and Nink are on the field with Papa John’s pizzas scraping up confetti off the field.”
Again: Life comes at you fast.
Long went on to win another Super Bowl (at the Patriots’ expense) with the Philadelphia Eagles the following season before retiring in 2018. Two Super Bowl wins in three seasons? Not a bad way to go out.
Chris Long gives awesome first-hand account of Patriots’ Super Bowl LI comeback originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston