Super Bowl LIII was as close to a yawner as a Super Bowl can get. Even if you are a fan of a defensive centric kind of football game, the Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots served up little drama, displaying barely any of the few pumped up storylines; the game was nothing that the so-called experts had predicted.
No high flying score, no monster kind of plays.
Still, with 4:58 to go in regulation, the Rams remained in the game, tied at three.
Then, as is typical in a game where the better team plays better on any given Sunday, the Patriots broke the game open. New England would score a touchdown that was inevitable and kick an additional field goal to seal the deal.
The Rams seemed out of their element on Super Bowl Sunday. By the end of the first half, there was never really the feeling that Los Angeles was about to ‘go off.’ If anything, the Rams were fortunate to be hanging around. The final score displayed this.
The Rams lost 13-3, not because the Patriots were exponentially better, but because Los Angeles picked a bad day to go into hibernation. Legendary Patriots head coach Bill Belichick reminded us why he’s Bill Belichick. Brady, who got banged around all afternoon, confirmed his status as the GOAT. Julian Edelman reminded everyone of why he’s the quintessential quiet assassin.
The Rams lost for a host of reasons. Here are four letter grades to define these reasons.
Rams Quarterback Jared Goff: D
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff looked just like the third year quarterback he is. He had a solid season, but on the biggest stage, he looked slow, and off his mark for 60 long minutes.
Fans who want to give him a pass for yesterday have a point; you’re not alone.
But in a few weeks, or perhaps even in a few short days, you’ll see the missed opportunities left on the turf at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The Rams offense looked rattled and unsettled. Goff looked like it was his first day in a lot of ways. But go easy fans, as this is just a realization that, as good as Los Angeles is, they were the team not quite ready for prime time against a team like the New England Patriots.
That said, when Goff watches the film, he will see how close he was to connecting where he fell short. He’ll note the speed of the New England defense, and a rush that was relentless.
Goff is a good quarterback. Sunday wasn’t his best day, and on the biggest stage, he didn’t have the sheer overall talent to make the big plays happen.
Rams Running Game: C-
It’s no secret that the Rams path to success was to establish any kind of running game against the Patriots. On Sunday, it didn’t take long to see that New England would force Jared Goff to beat them, and by the end of the first half, the odds that he would do that dwindled.
Nobody outside of the Rams organization has any idea what is wrong with running back Todd Gurley. Everyone read the reports going into the Super Bowl that said Gurley was fully healthy and that he’d be a big part of the game plan.
Gurley would wind up with just 35 yards on 10 carries, while his counterpart C.J. Anderson would rush for only 22 yards on seven carries.
Against the Patriots, that simply won’t get it done.
As unimpressive as the Rams offense looked on Sunday, the running game probably summed up the day better than any other.
In 2018, fans learned that Goff was as good as Gurley can be. Los Angeles was lucky to sign Anderson, but in the Super Bowl, both were rendered ineffective, thus forcing Goff to be better than he is at this point in his career.
The running game failed in the Super Bowl.
Plain and simple.
Rams Defense: A
From Ndamukong Suh to Aqib Talib, to Nickell Robey-Coleman, the Los Angeles defense answered performed on a high level when they needed to most.
On Super Bowl Sunday, the Rams defense was the best part of the Rams.
As maligned as they were early on, and deservedly so, Wade Phillips had his unit primed for Tom Brady. They got to him, hit him, and knocked him around all Sunday evening. Best of all, they kept their offense in the game and gave them chances.
That’s all they could do.
Aaron Donald and company held up their end of the bargain in Super Bowl LIII. Had they gotten anything from the Rams offense, the discussion today is likely something else.
Sean McVay: C
Sean McVay is taking his licks. Fans will rally to defend him, but as he admitted, he got outcoached on the one day he could not afford too. Be it how healthy Todd Gurley was or was not, a game plan lacking offensively, or simply not being ready for the biggest of games, McVay was not the smartest guy in the NFL on Sunday night.
McVay will be fine. He’s a coach who gets the longitude and latitude of a game measured not only by wins and losses. While Sunday was a bad game at the wrong time, he’s the guy who will learn from it and move on.
The Rams didn’t get to Atlanta by accident. After a 13-3 season and postseason wins against the Dallas Cowboys and the New Orleans Saints, McVay was no flash.
McVay ran into the one coach in Bill Belichick who can humble you quickly. Beating the Patriots, who are obviously no stranger to the Super Bowl, was within reach and McVay won’t soon forget that. If they meet again, expect a different result as this will stay with him forever.
For better or for worse, McVay owns this loss. Which is just as he’d like it to be.