The 2018-2019 NFL season finally cumulated in Super Bowl 53, held in Atlanta on Feb. 2. Jared Goff, Sean McVay and the Los Angeles Rams were fresh challengers, looking to take on Tom Brady and Bill Belichick as they looked for their sixth Super Bowl win together. It really was a tale of a generational duel, as Belichick would set the record for the oldest head coach to win a Super Bowl. McVay rested clear on the other end of the spectrum, set up to be the youngest coach to win a Super Bowl.
The game itself was hyped up beyond belief. The Rams were leading an explosive offense headlined by Todd Gurley coming off an injury, who could be considered the best runningback in the NFL. Their defense was also notable, with Aaron Donald winning Defensive Player of the Year honors. Their opposition needs no introduction, as the Belichick-Brady era had produced several Super Bowl appearances in their 18-year span, with Super Bowl 53 being their third consecutive appearance.
It turned out to be a slow game. Nobody scored in the first quarter over six possessions. The only notable plays were a missed field goal by New England kicker Stephen Gostkowski and an interception by Cory Littleton on Tom Brady’s first pass of the game. The other four drives ended in punts, with the Rams making up three of them.
The second quarter proved to be more intense, but only slightly. The opening drive of the quarter ended in a field goal by the Patriots, putting them up 3-0. There were four more punts that quarter, with the only remaining drive being a failed fourth down conversion by New England. When the Patriots kneeled to end the half, the 3-0 lead they held remained the score through Maroon 5’s controversial halftime show.
After being held to just 57 yards of total offense, surely the Rams’ offense would be able to make something happen in the second half, right? They had just spent the last season building the names on their roster into people fans knew and were afraid of. If the third quarter is anything to go by, the answer would be no. On three drives, Los Angeles managed 67 yards, with two ending in punts and the third ending in a 53-yard field goal by Greg “the Leg” Zuerlein. The Patriots’ three drives also ended in punts, bringing this Super Bowl between two incredible offenses into the final 15 minutes tied at three points.
The Rams definitely turned something on in the fourth quarter, but so did the Patriots. The opening drive by Los Angeles ended in a punt after 33 yards, answered by the first and only touchdown of the game. On a two-yard run, Sony Michel put the Patriots up 10-3, and it was all over. The Rams threw an interception on their next drive, and New England piled on with another field goal, this one from 41 yards. After a missed field goal with just seconds left, the Patriots would take Super Bowl 53 13-3.
Rams quarterback Jared Goff ended the game with a respectable 229 yards, but the real story is the lack of a run game established by Los Angeles. Gurley only ran 10 times for 35 yards, and C.J. Anderson ended with seven carries for 22 yards. Their defense put up the best fight they could against Brady and the Patriots, but the offense couldn’t deliver where they needed to.
On the other side, Michel ended the game with 94 yards on 18 rushing attempts with the sole touchdown. The notable performance was from wide receiver Julian Edelman, whose 10 catches for 141 yards awarded him Super Bowl MVP honors. Their defense should not go without credit, as holding the Los Angeles Rams to just three points is not something I even considered possible.
It’s hard to come out of this game feeling like anybody won, but in the end it just added to the legacy of the Brady-Belichick era. Of the 23 drives in the game, 14 ended in punts, with nine by Johnny Hekker and the Rams. Los Angeles downright disappeared on offense and that’s simply unacceptable in a game of this caliber.