NFL

Superbowl LIII – Brady leads Patriots to sixth world championship

The New England Patriots once again flexed their muscles to claim their sixth Superbowl victory, beating the Los Angeles Rams 13-3 to join the Pittsburgh Steelers as the team with the most World Championships to their name.

The game itself broke a number of records – but for mainly the wrong reasons. This was the lowest points scoring Superbowl in history – the 16 points total beating the previous low of 21, in Superbowl VII. It was also the first time that no touchdowns were scored across the first three quarters…the goal line only being broken when Sony Michel crashed a 2 yard run 8 minutes into the fourth and final quarter. The Patriots joined the New York Jets by becoming only the second team to win a Superbowl by scoring only one touchdown…the Rams joined the Miami Dolphins by being only the second team to lose a Superbowl without scoring a touchdown.

It wasn’t all great news off the gridiron either…live game broadcasters CBS reporting the lowest viewing figures for a decade.

But, Head Coach Bill Belichick, Quarterback Tom Brady, game MVP Julian Edelman (above) and the rest of the players and everyone associated with the franchise will care not a jot about the hows, whys and whats….all they will care about is another Superbowl ring and championship to add to their ever growing collection.

The Rams, and their much vaunted offense, seemed overawed by the occasion and just found no rhyme or rhythm to their game – either through the air or on the ground. At half time, with the score 3-0 to the Patriots, the Rams had just 57 yards total offense and had picked up two first downs. It was the first time that coach Sean McVay and his young team had been shut out in the first half. The Patriots had not exactly been their usual selves either – Brady had already thrown an interception, lost a fumble and kicker Stephen Gostkowski had missed a field goal attempt.

The defensive dominance continued in the second half, as both teams traded punts. One of the punts, by Rams punter Johnny Hekker, became a new Superbowl record as it was recorded as a 65 yarder. Deep into the third quarter, the Rams finally found a little fluidity, and drove the Patriots back 42 yards in 10 plays, and threatened to score. However, on a crucial third down, Patriots Linebacker Dont’a Hightower sacked Rams QB Jared Goff, and the Rams were forced to go for a 53 yard firld goal…which kicker Greg Zuerlein made – this becoming the second longest FG in Superbowl history – and tying the score up at 3-3.

More drives were halted and ended in punts as the game went into the final quarter…but the Patriots found some rhythm of their own and made the games longest drive…going 67 yards in four plays (three passes, one run) and ending up on the Rams 2 yard line. Brady handed the ball to running back Sony Michel who crashed over the goal line (pic above) and finally put a touchdown on the board. Gostkowski nailed the extra point and the Patriots were 10-3 up with seven minutes left on the clock.

The Rams came back though at the Patriots, with Goff completing a 19 yard pass to Brandin Cooks and then completing a vital 11 yard pass on third down to Josh Reynolds. He then moved the chains to the Patriots 27 yard line with another completion to Robert Woods. But with just over 4 minutes left, Goff’s intended touchdown pass was picked off by Patriots Stephon Gilmore handing possession back to New England.

The Patriots then found their running game and made several clock chewing, stamina sapping runs down the field with the Rams desperate for a turnover or 4th down punt. They did stall the Patriots deep into their half, but had to watch Gostkowski nail a 41 yard field goal making it 13-3 and down by two scores. Hope sprang eternal for Los Angeles fans as Goff orchestrated a drive down the field, but time was fast running out. A missed field goal by Zuerlein spelled the end as the Patriots ran out the clock for their sixth Superbowl success.

To complete the records, with the win, Head Coach Bill Belichick became the oldest HC to ever win a Superbowl (66), whilst Tom Brady became the oldest winning Quarterback at 41.

Despite the Patriots defensive dominance, the game MVP award went to Wide Receiver Julian Edelman, who gained 141 yards on his ten receptions on the game.

Although this Superbowl won’t be remembered for its excitement or offensive prowess, none could dispute the tactical genius displayed by the Patriots in shutting the Rams high powered offense down for largely all of the game. The Rams, you feel, will be stung by the defeat but come back a better team for it.

Meanwhile, the 31 other NFL teams wait for the Brady/Belichick dominance to finally fade away….but it could be a while yet before it happens.