Well that was not one for the archives. It was one for the record books in terms of offensive futility.
Super Bowl LIII was the first ever without a touchdown through three quarters. It was also the lowest-scoring game heading into the final frame.
The Patriots won their sixth title and third in the last five years. The Rams had four players who had played in a Super Bowl before Sunday, compared to the Patriots’ 36. That experience showed.
Here are my takeaways from Super Bowl 53:
Rams’ offensive ineptitude
The Rams came into the game with the second-best offence in football. It didn’t show up on Sunday. The Rams offence put up no points, 57 total yards, 32 passing yards, six punts and two first downs in the first half. All of those stats represented the fewest by the Rams offence in the Sean McVay era.
Jared Goff finished with 229 passing yards, most of it coming in the fourth quarter. Todd Gurley finished with just 35 rushing yards and started most drives on the bench. The Rams’ longest drive in their first eight possessions was five plays. Over that time they didn’t have a drive of more than 23 yards or one that lasted longer than two minutes and 39 seconds. In fact, they didn’t have a third-down conversion until their ninth possession. As good as the Rams’ defence played, you never thought Los Angeles had a chance because you never felt it could score. The outside zone run was taken away, Goff never got out of the pocket and nobody on the Rams ever looked comfortable or confident. For his first title, Bill Belichick schemed up and beat “the greatest show on turf.” He did it against “the greatest show on surf” Sunday.
Brady wasn’t as good as he was in the Super Bowl last year but he didn’t need to be. After throwing an interception on his first attempt, he managed the game on his way to a 21-of-35, 262-yard performance. It’s the first time Brady has thrown an interception on the Patriots’ opening drive. He didn’t make the mistake again.
Tipped and PICKED.@RamsNFL D with the early takeaway!
— NFL (@NFL) February 3, 2019
Unlike last year, he leaves the final game of the year as a victor, which adds to his already audacious legacy. With his sixth ring, Brady now has more Super Bowl wins than any player, surpassing Charles Haley, who has five. Brady’s nine Super Bowl appearances are also a record for most by any player. At 41, he doesn’t look to be slowing down. Brady is the oldest quarterback to win a Super Bowl, which makes him around two years older than Peyton Manning when he won his second.
Would have NEVER guessed the wins a SB without throwing a TD
— Jalen Ramsey (@jalenramsey) February 4, 2019
Edelman wins MVP and maybe much more
The Patriots’ pass offence was virtually a one-man show. The 32-year-old Julian Edelman took home game MVP honours with 141 yards receiving and 10 catches, none of which was bigger than his 13-yard reception to set up the only touchdown of the game in the fourth quarter. Edelman is just the seventh wide receiver to win MVP and the first since Santonio Holmes in 2009.
Simply put, Edelman was the best player on the field. He was open in the slot all night, which is why Brady targeted him 12 times. Chris Hogan (six), Rob Gronkowski (seven) and James White (four) got the bulk of the other targets. They combined for seven receptions and 92 yards receiving. Remember, Edelman had one of the best catches in Super Bowl history to help the Patriots come back versus the Atlanta Falcons the last time the Patriots won the Super Bowl.
Edelman now has 337 yards receiving in the Super Bowl, the third-most ever. The only men ahead of him are Jerry Rice (589) and Lynn Swan (364), who are both in the Hall of Fame, along with the man Edelman surpassed, Andre Reed (323). Edelman has passed Michael Irvin for the second-most receiving yards in NFL post-season history.
Speaking of Rice, he is the only receiver who has more yards than Edelman in the playoffs. Lost in the shuffle of Brady’s playoff greatness, Edelman has 13 straight post-season games with at least five catches and 50-plus receiving yards. This is the type of performance that takes Edelman from a good player in his era to a Hall of Fame candidate.
Remember when New England lost its fifth regular-season game this year and many predicted the dynasty was crumbling? This is now the Patriots’ sixth title in the last 18 years. They tie the Pittsburgh Steelers for most Super Bowls in NFL history with six championships. Belichick and Brady have two more Super Bowl wins than any other quarterback and coach combo. The difference is they have managed to do it in an era with free agency and a salary cap. There are specific rules in place now to promote parity and limit the domination that any one franchise can have.
So how have they done it? Draft and develop. The Patriots have as many starters that are first-round picks as they do that are undrafted free agents. They don’t have the best talent. They do the best with what they have. That was evident in the matchup with the Rams, who spent $221 million in free agency alone last year and have seven first-round draft picks that start on defence but were second-best all night.
No room for Rams to run
After their all-pro running back was limited to 10 yards on four carries in the NFC Championship, many people were watching the Rams’ backfield usage on Sunday. Gurley ended up playing 40 snaps and C.J. Anderson had 20. Neither of them was effective. Gurley had 10 carries for 35 yards. Anderson averaged even less at 3.1 yards per carry on his seven attempts for 22 yards. Anderson’s two catches for 12 yards were actually his most impactful plays.
A lot was made about how much Gurley would play in relation to Anderson, and in the end it didn’t matter. The run game was stoned on first down, which eliminated the play action pass threat that makes Goff and the Rams’ pass attack so effective. The Patriots are the best at taking away what you do well and making you play left-handed. It was clear they weren’t afraid of Goff throwing against them and it was clear the Rams couldn’t impose their will and run against a stacked box like they had all year.
The McCourty twins, Jason and Devin, became the first twins to play in and win a Super Bowl. They now have four Super Bowl rings in the family.
The quarterback that was mentioned just as much as the two men on the field was Colin Kaepernick. Leading up to the game and throughout, especially during the halftime show, Kaepernick and his lack of employment in the NFL was referenced online by celebrities and fans alike.
Maroon 5 gets a 5/10
The halftime show was as underwhelming as the game was. No crazy set changes. No elaborate costumes. Nothing that made you rewind your PVR. The closest thing to controversy was Adam Levine taking his shirt off, which in comparison to the treatment of former halftime performer Janet Jackson, seems like an odd and hypocritical choice.
Travis Scott saved the performance after taking flack for being involved in the first place.
— NFL (@NFL) February 4, 2019
Big Boi was just a reminder that the halftime show should have been exclusively for Atlanta/Georgia artists.
— NFL (@NFL) February 4, 2019