Patriots Win Historic 6th Super Bowl
It was billed as the dynasty against the new kids on the block.
Tom Brady, the 199th pick in the 2000 NFL Draft and appearing in his ninth Super Bowl at the spry age of 41, facing Jared Goff, the 1st pick in the 2016 Draft and in his first season decider after just three years in the league.
Bill Belichick, arguably the NFL’s greatest ever coach and winner of seven Super Bowl rings as a head coach and defensive coordinator, against Sean McVay, the league’s youngest head coach at just 33 who has turned the Rams from a laughing stock into one of the league’s best in just two seasons.
Wherever you looked on the field there was storylines aplenty, tantalising matchups and what should have been a classic game.
While the millions of fans watching got a classic, it was for all the wrong reasons.
In the lowest scoring Super Bowl ever, the New England Patriots outlasted the Los Angeles Rams 13-3, winning their sixth title in 18 years and cementing their spot as the league’s greatest dynasty.
The game started brightly for the Rams as linebacker Cory Littleton intercepted a Brady pass on just the fifth play of the game but in a microcosm of how the rest of the night would play out, LA were unable to capitalise and quickly went three and out.
Despite the early pick, Brady helped get the Pats within field goal range on their next drive but it was for naught as kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed a 46-yard attempt. The usually reliable kicker sports a career accuracy rate of 78 per cent on kicks between 40-49 yards but missed to the left in what was almost as surprising as the opening drive interception.
Neither quarterback looked settled, particularly in the first quarter, as both nerves and the strong play of the opposite defence played a factor and kept the game tight.
New England took the first lead of the game five minutes into the second quarter after a 42-yard field goal from Gostkowski, making up for his earlier miss and putting the Patriots up 3-0.
The only thing the game’s first score changed was the numbers on the scoreboard as both conference champions continued to squander chances and gain little ground. The two sides combined to punt on seven of the nine drives following the missed field goal up to half time.
A shirtless Adam Levine and Travis Scott performing his hit song ‘Sicko Mode’ during the half time show couldn’t change the mood of a poor first half showing.
The extended break also did little to change the offensive malaise that had set in, as neither Brady or Goff were able to break open the game as they’ve done so many times this season and beyond.
The teams traded possession in the third quarter as neither could gain a foothold before the Rams’ Greg Zuerlin tied the score with a 53-yard field goal late in the third. The drive was Los Angeles’ best up to that point and sent the decider to the fourth quarter tied at 3-3.
The title was up for grabs in the final quarter of the season as neither side had done enough to capitalise on the poor play and mistakes of the other.
But as has become near commonplace in the past 18 years, the Patriots and Brady took the game by the horns and started to wrestle control.
He turned to his two favourite targets in tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Julian Edelman in what became the Super Bowl winning drive.
It started with an 18-yard pass to Gronkowski before hitting Edelman on the next play for a 13-yard gain who carried the ball into Rams territory.
A seven-yard strike to Rex Burkhead moved the Patriots forward as Brady saved his best for last.
A near perfect throw between multiple Rams defenders landed in the hands of Gronkowski for a 29-yard gain that put the Patriots on the Los Angeles two-yard line.
Rookie running back Sony Michel punched in the game’s first and only touchdown and set the Patriots on their way to their sixth Super Bowl.
New England added a second field goal with 1:12 to go that all but wrapped up the win before shutting down the Rams offence one last time. LA missed a 48-yard field goal attempt with five seconds remaining as the Patriots won the 53rd Super Bowl 13-3.
The win creates history as Brady became the first player in league history to win six titles while New England tied Pittsburgh with six title wins, the most in the NFL.
Julian Edelman was named MVP after a stellar performance that often saw him as the only player able to get consistent space between the Rams defence for the Patriots.
He finished with a game-high 10 catches and 141 yards, along the way becoming the first player in history to record at least seven catches and 75 yards in the first half of a Super Bowl.
Brady wasn’t at his best and finished 21/35 with 262 yards and one interception, but his stat line matters little as in the end, as he’s done five previous times, he stood as champion alongside his Patriots teammates.
The Rams’ offensive meltdown came at the worst possible time and will leave them rueing their missed opportunities.
Despite a down performance from star defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who finished with just five tackles and one quarterback hit, Los Angeles did enough defensively to keep themselves in with a chance to win.
The Rams had one of the best offences in the league entering the game but it looked as if a combination of the setting and the New England game plan stifled Goff and the LA run game.
The quarterback had one of the worst performances of his career to date and struggled throughout. Despite finishing with 229 yards thrown, the former number one pick finished 19/38 and added one interception.
He looked uncomfortable and struggled against a stout Patriots defence as he was sacked four times and hit 12 times.
A combination of Goff’s poor play and just 62 total rushing yards from running backs Todd Gurley and C.J Anderson put the Rams behind the eight ball and limited them from taking advantage of a lack of scoring from the Patriots.
Gurley’s struggles exacerbated Goff’s troubles as the Rams have relied on at least one of the quarterback-running back tandem to fire at all times.
The back had a league-high 21 touchdowns in the regular season but was held scoreless in the Super Bowl and showed none of the explosive ability that has made him one of the best players in the NFL.
The 13-3 win will live on in infamy but only one team will be remembered in the record books.
New England’s record breaking sixth Super Bowl win won’t be replayed in any ‘best games ever’ montages but it underpins just how incredible the Patriots’ run has been.