They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Good thing all the New England Patriots know how to do is win.
Even if it was in one of the ugliest Super Bowls ever.
For the third time in five years and the sixth time since 2002, the dynastic and veteran New England Patriots, led by Bill Belichick, are NFL champions, defeating the up-and-coming Los Angeles Rams 13-3 in Super Bowl LIII on Sunday night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Running back Sony Michel provided the lone touchdown of the game with just seven minutes left in the fourth quarter as the Patriots defense put on one of the more dominating performances in the game’s history, holding the NFL’s No. 2 offense to just 260 total yards. Jared Goff was held to just a 50-percent completion rate with just 229 yards through the air. He was the only real threat to stop as Los Angeles inexplicably kept Todd Gurley on the bench for large portions of the night.
Quarterback Tom Brady continued to cement his status as the greatest quarterback of all-time, winning his sixth Super Bowl title in his ninth appearance in the big game. Only the Pittsburgh Steelers franchise has as many Super Bowl rings as Brady now.
While he didn’t have the offense necessarily clicking on all cylinders, completing 21-of-35 passes for 265 yards and no touchdowns, his No. 1 target in Julian Edelman took home Super Bowl MVP honors after posting 10 receptions for 141 yards.
It was a less than auspicious start for both sides, whose high-powered offenses were expected to start rolling immediately. The game was scoreless through the first quarter, which featured a Brady interception on his first pass of the game, the Patriots burning through two timeouts in the first quarter, and a Stephen Gostkowski missed field goal.
The Rams were just broken as they accrued just 32 yards and a first down in their first three possessions.
A scoreless first quarter is commonplace when the Patriots are involved in a Super Bowl, though. Out of the now nine scoreless opening quarters in Super Bowl history, the Patriots have been featured in five of them. They had won the previous four.
Gostkowski finally provided a breakthrough with a 42-yard field goal inside five minutes of the second quarter. It proved to be the only scoring of the half as the Rams were held to just 57 total yards in the opening 30 minutes while giving star running back Todd Gurley just three carries.
The 3-0 scoreline was the second-lowest halftime mark in the game’s history behind Super Bowl IX, which was 2-0 between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings.
The stout defensive play continued well into the second half as neither Brady nor Goff could find any sort of way to the end zone. While the Patriots would sputter near midfield, the Rams were simply overmatched by New England’s defensive schemes, punting on all of their first eight possessions.
Midway through the third quarter, Edelman was outgaining the entire Rams offense 128-82.
The Rams found their breakthrough with 2:11 left in the third, their ninth possession of the game, thanks to a Greg Zuerlein 53-yard field goal that capped off a 10-play, 42-yard drive.
With the score at 3-3 heading into the final 15 minutes, it was the lowest combined score after three quarters in Super Bowl history.
With seven minutes in the game, a touchdown finally came when Michel provided the game-winning touchdown, punching home a two-yard rush. The Georgia product became just the second rookie in the last 30 years to record a rushing touchdown in a Super Bowl, which provided some life to the defensive stalemate.
The Patriots iced the game on the Rams’ ensuing possession, one of their most promising of the game, when Stephon Gilmore picked Goff off on the New England four-yard-line with 4:27 to go.
A strong ground game of Michel and Rex Burkhead proceeded to help get the Patriots up two possessions in the final minute, a Gostkowski 41-yard field goal with 1:12 left put New England up by two possessions.
Sure, it wasn’t pretty, in fact, it might have been one of the worst Super Bowls ever played. But that won’t bother Bostonians in the slightest, as they’ll celebrate another title in Beantown this week.