The history books will not be kind to Super Bowl LIII. Having the lowest scoring Super Bowl in history, with the record-setting moment circulating around a punt, is never a good thing. Sure, the Patriots were the Super Bowl winner, 13-3, but I wonder if it felt as good as the previous five times they hoisted the Lombardi Trophy?
The Patriots faced a well-thought out Rams defense that had a solid plan which emphasized pressure from every angle. For the most part, the Rams executed well on this front. There were glimpses of promise in the first quarter as Nickell Robey-Coleman tipped Brady’s pass and Corey Littleton made a slick interception. Peters worked a bit of magic on two consecutive pass breakups on third downs, and for a second, you could have convinced yourself that the Rams would find momentum. What happened instead will haunt the Rams for the rest of time.
Goff looked completely befuddled and overwhelmed and whether it was the Pats defense or the crushing weight of promise that got to him is not the point. Goff’s QBR was 13.4 and what that says is that McVay didn’t have a plan for a crumbling quarterback. The repetitive fake blitzes and extensive man-to-man coverage that Belichick kept laying on Goff, rattled the young QB and exposed his inexperience. It seemed like McVay couldn’t account for this. I am not even going to speculate on Gurley. With no whisper as to his absence, it’s not worth it. We know what he can do and he was with not allowed to do it, or couldn’t. If you asked me what Sean McVay’s offensive plan was, I honestly couldn’t hazard a guess.
As you’d expect, the most prepared coach in football appeared before us on the night of Super Bowl LIII as such. Belichick had a plan to utilize an offense that he knew would struggle (Brady’s QBR was 24.4). We know Brady doesn’t hang out with the ball long, and if he had, he would have been seeing the whites of Donald, Suh or Fowler’s eyes.
What Belichick did instead of trying to outwit the Rams defense was play against their strength. While they had similar numbers in drives, plays and passing yards to the Rams, the Pats made their gains in rushing yards (407) by handing it off to Michel or getting a short pass to Edelman. They knew getting through wasn’t how they were going to win. They embraced the tough sledding. New England seemed to revel in the slog of it all in a way that Los Angeles never ever seemed comfortable.
Ok, so…great. Good job. You are a Super Bowl winner for the 6th time as a group. But we barely got a Super Bowl out of it.
I said that this game would come down to attrition but with both defenses not even allowing the others offense to get started, it created trench warfare for the gods, but led to nothing. We can analyze this game to death but even with the outstanding display of both defenses, it doesn’t show that one team dominated the other. What won the day was the experience of the quarterbacks. Brady was calm and smart(ish), Goff was bewildered and sweaty.
This was a sad day for football. No one really won. The fans were robbed of any truly great spectacle or drama, and the joy that usually engulfs the field at the end of the game just didn’t ring true this time. I’m sure New England is ablaze with self-aggrandizing jubilance as the triumphant Super Bowl winner, and I’m sure the optimism that was just sucked out LA probably created a black hole. But in the now immortalized words of Rams OT Andrew Whitworth in reaction to the loss, “At the end of the day we’re all going to die.”
This is a guest post by Lindsay Van Gyn, who has a masters degree in sports communications focusing on the NFL. She is a passionate writer who focuses on the cultural intersection of sports, statistics and fans.
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