Patriots Return to Top of NFL

The New England Patriots defeated the Los Angeles Rams 13-3 in the Super Bowl./Courtesy of Daniel Weinberg

In what was the lowest-scoring Super Bowl of all time, and one of the dullest, the New England Patriots defeated the Los Angeles Rams, 13-3 in Super Bowl 53 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

After a one-year hiatus, 41-year old quarterback Tom Brady, legendary Head Coach Bill Belichick and the Patriots are once again on top of the football world and have made their mark in the NFL history books. While the Patriots are certainly celebrating their most recent victory, for fans, the Super Bowl wasn’t anything to write home about.

Midway through the first quarter, Rams linebacker Cory Littleton intercepted a throw from Brady at the 27-yard line, though it ultimately yielded an unsuccessful series. The Patriots followed by again driving downfield into field goal range. After two timeouts in quick succession, the Patriots opted to attempt a 46-yard field goal. Stephen Gostkowski, the third most accurate kicker in NFL history, promptly shanked his attempt. These series of plays constituted some of the only exciting gameplay.

Despite good field position, the Rams, led by quarterback Jared Goff and 33-year-old Head Coach Sean McVay, could not seem to find their footing on offense, a trend that continued throughout the game.

What seemed like an exciting start to the highly anticipated championship game turned out to be anything but, as the two teams found themselves tied at zero by the end of the first quarter.

The first score came with 10:29 left in the second quarter, when Gostkowski redeemed himself and squeaked a 42-yard field goal attempt through the uprights. The Rams again stalled on offense and found themselves down by only three heading into the halftime show. Despite 93 receiving yards from wide receiver Julian Edelman and dominating in time of possession, the Patriots only managed to muster one field goal. It was an uneventful first half of Super Bowl 53, which was projected to be a high-scoring affair.

The defensive battle continued well into the third quarter as no team could put together any substantial drives. After a 27-yard reception with 10:06 remaining, Edelman had 120 yards receiving for the game, which was more yards than the entire Rams offense was able to acquire.

Arguably the most exhilarating play of the game came from an unlikely source: Rams punter Johnny Hekker. Punting from his own endzone, Hekker punted 65 yards to the Patriots’ 29-yard line — the longest punt in Super Bowl history.

After yet another unsuccessful drive by the Patriots, the Rams started to actually look like the team that averaged the second most points per game in the NFL this season. With a series of smooth passes from Goff, the Rams put themselves on the board after a 53-yard field goal from kicker Greg “The Leg” Zuerlein. By the end of the third quarter, the score was tied 3-3 and neither team had found their way to the end zone.

Several more uneventful drives later, the Patriots had possession of the ball with seven minutes remaining in the game. A tied score with only minutes remaining in a big game? For Brady, this was familiar territory.

After connection with different receivers for several long receptions, the Patriots found themselves within striking distance. Brady lobbed a 29-yard throw to tight end Rob Gronkowski, which Gronkowski caught at the Rams 2-yard line. Finally, after 53 minutes, rookie running back Sony Michel found the end zone, putting the Patriots up 10-3.

On the ensuing drive by the Rams, they too marched up the field and looked ready to tie the game when Goff launched a 27-yard pass to wide receiver Brandin Cooks, who was wide open in the end zone. Cooks dropped the pass when Patriots safety Duron Harmon came suddenly to break it up. On the next play, the Patriots’ pass rush pressured Goff quickly, who ended up throwing a bad pass right into the hands of Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore with only 4:17 remaining in the game.

This effectively ended the game, as the Patriots tacked on 3 more points with 1:12 remaining thanks to Gostkowski’s 41-yard field goal. Goff completed 3 passes to get within field goal range with 8 seconds left, but Zuerlein shanked the ball wide left.

After a disappointing offensive showing, Goff, who finished with 229 yards and a 57.9 passer rating, put the blame on himself.

“It was me,” Goff said in a post-game interview. “It was our offense. And we — well, I — couldn’t do my part.”

Edelman, who finished the game with 10 catches for 141 yards and the Super Bowl MVP trophy, was content with the way the game played out, despite its slow nature.

“I’ll take an ugly loss over a pretty win any day,” Edelman said in his post-game press conference.

The Patriots now find themselves tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most Super Bowl wins, six, which have all been won with Brady under center and Belichick on the sidelines over the past 18 years. With this victory, Brady set another NFL record as the only player to win six Super Bowls.

While many speculate that this could be the end of the Patriots dynasty, everyone should know by now not to bet against them. With Brady saying that Super Bowl 53 would not be his final NFL game, it seems more than likely that the Patriots are going to be back next season defending their title.

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