The New England Patriots beat the Los Angeles Rams 13-3 to win Super Bowl LIII
It was only a few months ago that fans, analysts and everyone in between counted out the New England Patriots. A dynasty that has been dominant for well over a decade was seen as aged, soft and unexplosive.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is 41 years of age, and tight end Rob Gronkowski failed to stay healthy this season. Tension between head coach Bill Belichick and owner Robert Kraft was reported as “serious” entering this season. The defense looked to be made up of broken down veterans and remained inconsistent all year, finishing 21st in defensive efficiency. A collapse was on the brink, and the end seemed inevitably near.
Those critics were silenced on Sunday, Feb. 3, as history repeated itself. The AFC Champion New England Patriots (11-5) conquered the NFC Champion Los Angeles Rams (13-3) at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta to grasp their sixth Lombardi Trophy. This ties the Pittsburgh Steelers as the most Super Bowls won by an NFL franchise.
Through the regular season, both offenses were ranked in the top five amongst the entire league. This trend continued in the postseason as Brady and New England’s passing game seemed unstoppable, while the Rams running game was perfectly executed through backs Todd Gurley and CJ Anderson. However, this game was unexpectedly played through dominant defense as it finished with a score of 13-3.
It didn’t take long to notice that defense was going to be the story of the ball game. On the Patriots initial drive, Brady threw a ball behind receiver Chris Hogan which was tipped and intercepted by Rams linebacker Cory Littleton. Brady couldn’t get hot from this point on. He completed just 21 of his 35 throws and failed to throw a touchdown pass. And despite some big plays, Patriots’ running backs Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead and James White couldn’t get going either. The three accumulated a total of only 141 yards and one touchdown.
But the Rams offense played even worse. Jared Goff was clearly the less experienced quarterback in the match-up. At halftime, Goff had completed just five passes, and when the game ended, he had completed 19 of 38 with an interception. Goff was especially bad on third down, going three for nine.
Despite Goff underperforming, he didn’t get much help from the rest of his team. The front seven for the Patriots, which was lead by defensive end Trey Flowers and linebacker Kyle Van Noy, found great success getting to Goff as they collected four sacks and pressured him on 43 percent of his dropbacks. They also shut down the dangerous rushing attack of the Rams. Gurley and Anderson only carried the ball 17 times for 57 yards.
Los Angeles converted just three of 13 third downs and nine of their 12 drives concluded with a punt. By scoring just a field goal, the Rams joined the 1971 Dolphins as the second team to not score a touchdown in Super Bowl history.
“I just never enabled us to get into a rhythm offensively. It seemed that anytime we got a little bit of a positive play, then we’d end up having a penalty or move ourselves back,” Rams head coach Sean McVay said in the post-game press conference. “They did a great job. It was a great game plan, and no other way to say it, but I got outcoached tonight.”
The most impressive player on the field was New England’s Julian Edelman. The Rams defense failed to contain him from the beginning, as Edelman consistently found separation from Rams’ best man coverage player Aqib Talib. When the Rams played zone defense, Brady connected with his favorite target through quick, flat and slant routes. He finished with 10 receptions for 141 receiving yards, winning the Super Bowl MVP honor. Edelman is the first receiver to win the MVP award since Pittsburgh’s Santonio Holmes in 2009.
“He played the best game of the year,” Brady said in the presser. “He’s a fighter. I’m just so proud of him. He’s been an incredible player for this team.”
Being a school within the Los Angeles area, APU has a multitude of Rams fans who watched the Super Bowl on Sunday. The Rams’ play was clearly underwhelming after a fantastic season, and these fans were disappointed.
“Yeah, man, it sucks that this was the day LA decided to play their worst football,” said sophomore Cody Doster who became a Rams fan following their move to Los Angeles. “But the team definitely has some upside. I love McVay, Gurely, Goff, the whole squad! I’m sure we’ll be in this spot again soon.”
Those who watched America’s biggest sporting event who wouldn’t categorize themselves as avid football fans also seemed disappointed with the outcome.
“I remember the last few championship games being pretty good, but this one was pretty lame,” said sophomore Bri Haskins. “There just wasn’t a special moment or play.”
Although the execution and result may have been disappointing, the fact remains that the dynamic quarterback coach relationship between Brady and Belichick has solidified itself as the greatest of all time with another ring. Brady became the only NFL player to ever collect six rings.
Age doesn’t seem to matter for this versatile Patriots organization. The Super Bowl only further proved that as long as these two men remain in the league, New England will always linger over competition as a threat to take home the Lombardi Trophy.