In the lowest-scoring Super Bowl ever, the Patriots proved that when it mattered the most, they made the big plays needed to win, hoisting their sixth Lombardi Trophy after beating the Los Angeles Rams 13-3 in Superbowl LIII.
With the game tied at 3-3 in the middle of the fourth quarter, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady connected with tight end Rob Gronkowski on a 29-yard throw during a 69-yard drive to set up running back Sony Michel’s touchdown which gave the Pats a 10-3 lead.
In the season where offensive records were broken and the Patriots’ (14-5) defense looked to be its weakest, it was ultimately crucial in helping them win the Superbowl.
“Finally got a touchdown and the defense played the best game of the year,” said Brady in the Associated Press.
Two weeks after the Pats played a respectable game against the highest-scoring offense during the regular season in the Kansas City Chiefs, the their defense limited the second highest scoring offense during the regular season in the Rams (15-4) to just three points. These three points were the fewest since Super Bowl VI.
The Rams’ defense did their part in trying to win what would have been the team’s first title since 1999, limiting the Pats to just 13 points, the least points they’ve scored in a Super Bowl during the Brady and Belichick era.
It was the Rams’ defense that made the first big play of the game, intercepting Brady’s first pass minutes into the first quarter. The Patriots had a chance the very next possession to score some points, but kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed a 46-yard field goal attempt to keep things at 0-0.
The Rams had an opportunity with four minutes left in the third quarter to take the lead, when Rams quarterback Jared Goff threw a deep strike to Brandin Cooks that was broken up by Patriots defensive back Jason Mccourty.
The Rams, who made it to the Super Bowl after a controversial no-call went in their favor against the Saints weeks prior, averaged 32.6 points per game during the regular season, and 28.0 points per game in the playoffs heading into the big game.
However, their offense never got off the ground, as their star running back Todd Gurley was held to 34 total yards on the game, with the team finishing with 62 total rushing yards.
Patriots running back Sony Michel, who scored the only touchdown of the game, had 92 rushing yards on his own.
For this game, Belichick, who is notorious for his attention to the team’s best attribute when game planning, prioritized having his defense to shut down the Rams’ offense. “We’re a relentless team,” said Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower to Associated Press. “We didn’t give up. A lot was thrown at us. When we play like we did tonight, we can’t be beat.”
With this victory, the Patriots tied the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most Super Bowl titles in NFL history with six, all occurring under Brady and Belichick.
Meanwhile, Rams quarterback Jared Goff struggled for much of the day, finishing 19-of-38 on passing attempts with 229 yards and one interception.
Goff, who halfway through the season was a dark horse MVP candidate, finished on a down note, throwing for only six touchdowns to six interceptions in the last five games, and only had one touchdown during the postseason. “I wish I would have done my job better and I can promise next time if we get that opportunity, I will,” said Goff to therams.com.
With their loss in the Superbowl, the Rams now go into the offseason with some big decisions to make. Running back C.J. Anderson, offensive lineman Rodger Saffold III and defensive linemen Ndamukong Suh and Dante Fowler Jr. are all free agents.
The Rams also need to keep in mind new deals in upcoming seasons for younger players like Goff, star cornerback Marcus Peters and wide receiver Cooper Kupp.
The Patriots, for their part, may lose key parts to their recent titles as star tight end Rob Gronkowski and safety Devin McCourty are expected to announce their retirements.
Both teams are likely to see some significant roster turnover, but between the Rams’ abundance of young talent and the Patriots being led by Brady and Belichick next season, both teams have comparable shots at winning it all next season.