James White might not have gotten an MVP trophy last night, but he got the trip to Disney World.
And considering they might have written his Super Bowl story, that kind of fits.
The versatile running back scored three touchdowns and a two-point conversion, setting a Super Bowl record for scoring (as well as one for receptions in a game). Not bad for a guy who might not have touched the ball much except for the misfortunes of others.
White doesn’t have the physicality of LeGarrette Blount (who fumbled early in the game) or the open-field speed of Dion Lewis (who cramped up on the final play of regulation and didn’t return. But he did all the hard running in overtime, including the game-winning touchdown.
“I mean, people are going to say a lot of things,” White said, via Phil Perry of CSNNE.com. “I kind of tune it out. I know what I can do. Coaches know what I can do. When I get the ball in my hand, I just try to make a smart play.
“I’m not the biggest guy so I’m not going to try to run through people all the time. At that point on the goal line, got three yards to go, you just gotta find a way to get it in the end zone. I had blocks in front of me. They made the perfect blocks, I just put my shoulder down and ran through it.”
It wasn’t his typical run, but he’s not a typical show-stealing back.
A fourth-rounder from Wisconsin in 2014, he wasn’t even active for their Super Bowl win over the Seahawks, but has proven himself to be trustworthy since then, and a new link in the Patriots seemingly endless chain of role-players becoming stars (like his Kevin Faulk-style two-point conversion).
“James will do whatever you ask him to do,” McDaniels said. “He did some chipping, he hit the defensive ends in protection. He caught the ball out of the backfield. He ran the ball in some critical situations for us. He’s a guy that I would say epitomizes the be-ready-to-do-whatever’s-asked-of-you role.
“We didn’t practice some of those plays with James White in the game, but that’s the way the game went, you know? James stayed in there, knew what to do — always knows what to do — and made the plays in critical situations to help us win.”
And today, he gets a reward to go along with the satisfaction of winning a Super Bowl in dramatic fashion.