Rams Fall to Patriots
Defensive Squads Created lowest Total Score in Super Bowl Histor
February 7, 2019
Rams Fall to Patriots
Defensive teams Created lowest Total Score in Super Bowl History
By Fred Altieri
Take your pick: Super Bowl LIII was either the most boring or best defensive game ever. Likely it was both for the millions watching and streaming live. The Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots combined for the fewest points ever in the 53 years of the NFL Championship series. The host City of Atlanta, Georgia was fantastic and deserved greater entertainment.
The only redeeming value was the coronation of the two GOAT's from Boston: head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady. They have now combined for a record six Super Bowl rings in nine attempts in exactly 17 years to the day. Yet the 13-3 lackluster victory over the Rams left a hollow feeling in most aside from the unwavering Patriot fans who dominated Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The bottom line is not surprising: Belichick is the standard that L.A.'s wonderkind head coach Sean McVay hopes to attain one day. It was the classic setup: the old man versus the young upstart. At age 66, Belichick became oldest head coach to win a Super Bowl. At 33, McVay... well, you know the rest. Belichick set the coaching record for most Championship wins.
"I'm pretty numb right now, but definitely, I got out-coached," said McVay. "I didn't do nearly good enough for our football team. The thing that is so tough about all of this is the finality to it."
Belichick and his staff incorporated a defense (cleverly adapted from the Baltimore Ravens with a few dashes of salt from the Detroit Lions success in November against the Rams offense) that had the Rams offense scratching their heads and everything else from their first drive of the game.
"I have a ton of respect for Sean, his staff and the Rams football team," said Belichick. "That's a great team and we knew it was going to be as hard a competition as we had all year. Just happy to come on top... and had a few more plays we were able to make there."
Brady: "I give them a lot of credit, Coach (Wade) Phillips, all those players. They played really well on defense, fortunately our defense really played the best game they have all season. It was just an incredible win." On a side note, 71-year old Rams defensive coordinator Phillips is relevant as ever.
Fact: Tom Brady is Tom Brady and Jared Goff is a second year quarterback still learning how to play from the pocket who has a propensity to make the worse decisions when pressured. At least two of Goff's four sacks took the Rams out scoring opportunities. He threw too late and too high to wide-open wide receiver Brandin Cooks in the end zone in the third quarter.
With the New England leading 10-3 and seven minutes to go in the game Goff finally seemed to wake up. He drove the team to the Pats' 27-yard line. Two plays later Goff underthrew Cooks near the goal line. Patriot cornerback Stephon Gilmore intercepted the pass and buried the Rams at the 4-yard line.
"It is the toughest loss I have ever had. It kills. It is terrible," said Goff. "I wish I could have had a million plays back, but there is nothing you can do about it. You just have to learn and move forward."
Belichick had the answers. The Pats stuck Gilmore (who deserved high considerations for MVP) on Cooks and double-covered Rams wide receiver Robert Woods. He relied on his defensive front seven to shut down the duo running threat of Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson, which they did with great success. The Rams play-action never materialized as Goff was under constant pressure from a defense that never lost focus.
Question of the game: will the real Todd Gurley please stand up? Despite his and the team's constant denial that he is not injured they can't have it both ways. If he's not hurt then he has resorted back to the ineffective running back he was in 2016 under then much-maligned head coach Jeff Fisher. It's difficult to believe that the league's leading touchdown scorer has degenerated so quickly due to natural causes or bad play-calling.
For the Ram faithful it was a sobering slap in the face. Especially considering that the team was supercharged during the past off-season to win this specific contest. The game that promised so much turned into an offensive stalemate. Even the Patriot fans' celebration drifted away soon after Julian Edelman was awarded the MVP trophy.
Edelman: "My name was called, I was asked to make a couple plays and we were able to do that. There were a lot of plays by other guys. The defense was unreal holding that offense to three points. It is pretty crazy. They should be the MVP."
Good defense or bad offense? The kind of record lows registered between two of the most potent teams in the league can almost make one giddy: Fewest points by both teams, fewest points by a winning team, fewest touchdowns for a game by both teams and the fewest points through three quarters by both teams.
More failure: The Rams set the record for most consecutive drives ending with a punt in a game with eight. They also tied the record for the fewest points by a team with three and the fewest touchdowns by a team with zero. Yes, zero. This same squad combined with the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 11 to set multiple scoring records in the Rams thrilling 54-51 Monday Night victory.
Regardless of the team's incredible two-year rise under McVay, no one can take making the Super Bowl for granted (unless one fortunately links to the annual Belichick/Brady party). The pressure is already on as the Rams transition from Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to the state-of-the-art Los Angeles Stadium in Inglewood for the 2020 season. It's going to take more than one Super Bowl ring to wash away the stains from this humbling experience.
Yet McVay's approach should b