In what some would call a boring game, the New England Patriots beat the Los Angeles Rams 13-3. Both team’s defenses were creating chaos in the backfield, but biggest difference in this game was how each quarterback reacted to the pressure.
In the year of explosive offenses, the age-old adage “defense wins championships” rang true. The game was a battle of the trenches, with each possession being won or lost at the line of scrimmage. The first half ended 3-0 and only saw one touchdown, in what was a surgical fourth-quarter drive by Tom Brady that rookie running back Sony Michel finished off. Though the game lacked the dramatics of last year’s Super Bowl, there was still many important aspects to take away.
The Real MVP
If you told me before the game that Brady would throw no touchdowns and one interception and still win, I’d call you insane. Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman carried the Patriots throughout the game, finishing with 10 catches and 141 yards.
The Rams corners had no answers for him; every time there was a replay it was Edelman embarrassing a defender. His route running was on point and he was unguardable. In what was a bad game for Brady’s standards, he was able to feed his favourite receiver when the defense pressured him, as they did most of the night. Brady was calm under pressure and he didn’t make a lot of mistakes, which is what you’d expect from one of the greatest players ever. The same couldn’t be said for the young quarterback on the opposing team.
An Offensive Offense
This was the lowest scoring Super Bowl ever, and you can thank Jared Goff for that. The Rams punted on the first eight drives of the game. Give credit to the defensive front of the Patriots; they did a great job of getting to Goff early and shaking his confidence.
You could’ve given MVP to Dont’a Hightower or Stephon Gilmore for their masterpiece on defense, locking the Rams up completely. But there’s no question Goff struggled mightily, playing one of the worst games a quarterback has ever played in the Super Bowl. Too often he was holding the ball too long and just missing the easy throws. He completed only 19 of his 38 passes for 229 yards and an interception, which was thrown off his back foot, and ended the Rams hopes.
Missing in Action
Too many pieces of the Rams went missing, from Coach Sean McVay and his uninspiring play calls to Todd Gurley and the Rams offensive line. Gurley rushed 10 times for 35 yards and wasn’t used in the passing game at all. For one of the best runners in the league to not be used means that he was injured or the Rams trusted C.J. Anderson as the feature back. In any case the running game was ineffective, but there wasn’t the genius play-calling from McVay that we’re used to seeing.
The Patriots did their job in stuffing the lanes, removing the chance for the Rams backs to cut-back, which was their favourite mode of attack. Even with these issues, they still had multiple opportunities to win. Though the team is young and can correct their mistakes, there are no guarantees in the NFL. The NFC is too stacked and the gnawing “What if?” question will surround the team as they look back on this game in the coming months.