Thanks to a dominating defensive performance, the New England Patriots earned their sixth Super Bowl win with a 13-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams.
While many fans labeled the game as a snooze fest, both defenses displayed the talent and coaching they possessed from early on. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady threw an interception on his first throw, while the Rams were held scoreless for the first half. Needless to say, defense wins championships.
Unlike the last two Super Bowl performances by New England, this show was completely run by the defense. Linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Dont’a Hightower continued their postseason hot streak, constantly harassing Rams quarterback Jared Goff in and out of the pocket. All-Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore had an extremely clutch interception with less than five minutes to go on New England’s own four-yard line.
Perhaps the best play of all was made by first-year Patriot Jason McCourty, who broke up what would have been a definite touchdown by a wide open Brandin Cooks in the end zone in the third quarter. The combined effort of the defense led to the lowest scoring Super Bowl in NFL history.
For the second time out of his six Super Bowl victories, Tom Brady was not given the MVP award. Instead, it went to the well-deserving receiver Julian Edelman, who hauled in 10 catches for 141 yards.
Throughout the stagnant first half, Edelman seemed to be the only Patriot receiver who could find any success against the stout Los Angeles secondary. Rookie running back Sony Michel also led the charge for New England, scoring the game’s only touchdown on one of his 18 carries.
Brady struggled throughout the first half, both with finding receivers and making throws. His first pass, which immediately looked odd as it left his hands, was too far inside for Chris Hogan and led to an early interception by the Rams. Starting in the first quarter, the gunslinger seemed unable to deliver a tight spiral. Still, the calm look remained on the future Hall of Famer’s face throughout the entire game.
When the game was in Brady’s hand, he did what he’s been doing all throughout his career: find a way to win. On the only touchdown drive of the game, Brady completed all four of his passes for 67 yards, including 18- and 29-yard catches by Rob Gronkowski.
After the game, Gronkowski was mum on his future. If anything, that bodes well for the Patriots. Initial thoughts were that he was certainly done after the Super Bowl, regardless of a win or a loss.
Safety Devin McCourty, who, with his brother Jason, became the first set of twins to win a Super Bowl, also made no indications of his plans for the upcoming season.
While there is a chance we have seen both of these players play in their last games, it’s hard to think of a better way for them to have gone out. That being said, Patriots fans will continue to pray that both return for another year of football in Foxboro.
Needless to say, the entire team played well on Sunday. The synergized team effort and camaraderie displayed by the Patriots exemplified a true championship team that would stop at nothing to win. Credit has to be given to a position group that does not receive nearly enough love throughout the NFL. That position is, of course, the offensive line.
New England’s offensive line was quite literally flawless throughout the playoffs. In the Pats’ three postseason games, Brady was sacked just once. They were able to neutralize the destructive trio of Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh, and Dante Fowler Jr., and they were able to block well enough to allow Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead to have multiple 25-plus-yard runs.
They did everything that was asked of them and more, and their hard work earned the franchise their sixth title, tying them with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most by a single franchise.
Once again, head coach Bill Belichick proved that his input and coaching was invaluable. All year, New England was one of the most man-coverage heavy defenses in the NFL; come Sunday, they threw that game-plan out and ran a heavy zone defense.
The mismatches and advantages that defensive play-caller Brian Flores and Belichick were able to create put their defense in the best possible position to help New England achieve the ultimate goal for the third time in five years.
The frightening thing about this team is that they are still here, and will be ferociously searching for their fourth ring in six years when they kick off the season next year. With another year of number 12 under center and an elite defense that is piece by piece coming together, the Patriots will be right back in the championship mindset come September. Congrats to the New England Patriots on an amazing season.