In a season of such high-scoring offenses, Super Bowl LIII turned out to be a defensive showdown where the New England Patriots won 13-3 over the Los Angeles Rams in what was the lowest scoring Super Bowl ever. This win now pushes quarterback Tom Brady ahead of Hall of Fame defensive lineman Charles Haley for most Super Bowl wins (6) and head coach Bill Belichick is now the oldest head coach to take home the Lombardi trophy at 66-years-old. Belichick stifled Ram head coach Sean McVay’s offense to only three points as the Rams did not have a single play in red zone.
After two weeks of preparation, everyone expected a shootout between two such innovative coaches. However, there were 14 punts between the Rams and Patriots with only one touchdown scored throughout the game. It was only a matter of time before Brady’s classic, methodical drive tired out the Rams defense physically, mentally and psychologically. The Los Angeles defense held up until midway through the fourth quarter when Brady led the Patriots on a five-play, 69 yard drive. Brady set up the touchdown with a perfectly thrown ball to tight end Rob Gronkowski in between two defenders for 29 yards. Rookie running back Sony Michel capped off the drive with a two-yard touchdown run.
Now, it was time for third-year starter and former number one overall pick Jared Goff to answer with a score of his own. After traveling 48 yards, Goff made an ill-advised throw towards the end zone which Patriots cornerback Stephen Gilmore intercepted, sealing the victory for New England.
The Patriots feasted on the lack of aggressiveness by Goff, and this is not the first time we have seen the ‘deer-in-headlights’ look from Goff in the playoffs. When the Rams lost 26-13 to the Atlanta Falcons in the Wild Card Round last year, the former University of California quarterback did not play particularly well, only completing about 53 percent of his passes, not much better than his 50 percent completion percentage in Super Bowl LIII. It almost appeared in both games as if, when faced with adversity, he did not know how to handle defensive pressure, always looking to the sideline to get help from head coach Sean McVay.
In last year’s contest against the Falcons, Atlanta sacked Goff three times as they constantly pressured him. On Sunday, New England brought Goff down four times, causing him to appear to be under duress, feel uneasy in the pocket the entire game. Even in the Divisional Round win this season against the Dallas Cowboys, Jared Goff still only completed just over 50 percent of his passes for under 200 yards. Just as the six-time Super Bowl champion Brady embraces the big moment, Goff tends to shy away from the big games.
Even though the 41-year-old Brady did not have his best Super Bowl performance, he made the necessary plays and throws to win on Sunday. Brady completed the play of the game by delivering a 29-yard pass to Gronkowski in the fourth quarter, but also used wide receiver and Super Bowl LIII Most Valuable Player Julian Edelman at will as he recorded 141 receiving yards on 10 catches. Simply, no matter what game whether it is Week 3 of the regular season or the Super Bowl, Brady will make that one play during crunch time to secure a win.
This New England Patriots blueprint showcases one thing: over these six Super Bowl titles, there have been two constants, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. Assistant coaches come and go, running backs are signed and cut, wide receivers are traded for and lost midway through the season but every year the Patriots play their best football in January and early February with Brady under center and Belichick on the sideline. Next season, the Patriots look to tie the ‘91-’94 Buffalo Bills and appear in their fourth straight Super Bowl as they look to chase even more history.
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