The New England Patriots are Super Bowl champions for the sixth time in the last 18 seasons. The 13-3 victory over the Rams certainly looked different than we were expecting it to — the teams New England beat in the Super Bowl and AFC Championship played a game during the regular season that ended 54-51.
Somehow a game that featured 16 total points wound up being the largest margin the Patriots have even won a Super Bowl by. There was no shortage of drama, though, as yet another one came right down to the wire.
Let’s breakdown who the game’s biggest hero, zero and underrated player were.
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Patriots Super Bowl Hero: Stephon Gilmore
Julian Edelman took home the MVP award, and I don’t have an issue with it. In a game where the offense was scarce, a win wouldn’t have been possible for the Patriots without Edelman’s 10 catches for 141 yards. He made gritty plays and deserves to be rewarded for them, but this New England defense managed to hold a high flying Los Angeles offense to a mere three points. That was the real story here.
The Rams scored 30 or more points 12 times during the regular season and averaged 28 points in the postseason entering the Super Bowl. The whole Patriots defense is deserving of the MVP award, but Gilmore stood out above the rest. Outside of the interception that helped seal the win, Gilmore had three passes defended and five solo tackles. Outside of committing a penalty, Gilmore was perfect in coverage. He should have represented that entire defense by raising the MVP trophy.
Super Bowl Zero: Sean McVay
I considered Jared Goff. I considered Todd Gurley. You could almost consider anyone on the offensive side of the ball for the Rams. In the end, I had to take the head coach for not finding a way to score more than three points in this game. The Patriots’ effort on defense should be applauded, but it isn’t good enough to hold a top offense to three points.
The Rams averaged 33 points per game during the regular season. Jared Goff had a couple of throws that could’ve resulted in touchdowns, but the play calling never put him in a good position to succeed. Todd Gurley racked up 1,831 yards and 21 total touchdowns in 14 games during the regular season. He was in the MVP conversation prior to resting his knee. That body of work was good enough for McVay to trust Gurley with just 10 carries in the biggest game of the season. In a game that was 3-3 until late in the fourth quarter, the Rams had plenty of opportunities to put the ball in the hands of their best player and never did so. The Rams were never a threat on offense in the game. That’s on McVay.
Underrated: Jason McCourty
If the Rams ever got into the end zone, it was going to be with 3:35 left in the third quarter. The Patriots made their one mistake of the game, triple covering Robert Woods, and allowing Brandin Cooks to streak into the end zone. Cooks couldn’t have been more wide open.
Jared Goff got the ball to him but took too long. Jason McCourty darted across the field, arrived at the exact moment the ball got to Cooks and was able to break up the pass in perfect fashion. Three plays later, the Rams kicked a field goal to tie the game, 3-3.
If the Rams jumped out to that 7-3 lead, who knows where this game would’ve gone. The save was 100-percent McCourty’s playmaking ability, and may’ve been the difference in the game.