The Pat-Down

I was ecstatic when the New England Patriots beat the Los Angeles Rams 13-3 in Super Bowl 53, or as many people like to call it, “the most boring Super Bowl of all time.”

For me, being a Patriots fan, it was quite the opposite, as the team earned its sixth Super Bowl ring and continued its dynasty that has spanned for almost two decades. Many people, including some Pats faithfuls, thought that the run was over. They pointed to Gronk’s health and Brady’s age as reasons for decline, but they were wrong. Both were vital on the drive that scored the only touchdown of the game.
Now I can understand why some people would think the Super Bowl was boring. 13 to 3 isn’t a score that would be worth hyping up, especially since the score for the majority of the game was Patriots three, Rams zero. I get that. But if you’re claiming to be an authentic fan of football, I think you’re dead wrong saying this game was boring, whether you had rooting interest or not.

This was fundamental football at its finest. Both teams had lethal offenses and the game had great potential to be one of the highest scoring football games of all time. But what was overlooked was the three people manning the defenses for both teams, Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, and Patriots defensive assistant Brian Flores and head coach Bill Belichick. People forget Belichick was a defensive wizard for the New York Giants back in the late 80s. These two teams came up with genius defensive game plans to limit the other’s offensive game, and it worked for both sides. Each team had offensive troubles.

This game was just a defensive battle plain and simple. To start, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady threw an interception in his first pass. This pick wasn’t a poor thrown ball, but instead a great play on the Rams’ defensive side. Their pre-snap defense made it appear that they were in man-to-man coverage, but as the play unfolded, they dropped back into a zone defense and undercut the route, leading to the interception. It was a key interception, and could have been dangerous for the Pats, but the Patriots were able to force a three and out, forcing the Rams to punt.

The key defensive play for the Patriots was the Stephon Gilmore interception late in the fourth quarter. The lead was 10-3 Patriots with the Rams having possession just outside the red zone. On second down, the Patriots, specifically Brian Flores and Bill Belichick, called for a blitz play to force the Rams’ quarterback to make a tough decision: either take a sack, try to find an open receiver within two seconds, or roll out of the pocket and throw it away. The defense overloaded the offense’s right side with the blitz and Goff took the snap and tried to throw it to Brandin Cooks towards the end zone. He threw it fairly short due to the oncoming pressure, and Gilmore was able to play off Cooks and catch the interception, hammering a couple nails to the coffin, but not enough to completely win the game.

The final nail in the coffin was when after Pats kicker Stephen Gostkowski hit a big field goal with under two minutes to go to extend the lead by 10. Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein missed a field goal which would have cut the deficit to eight.

I loved the defensive game plan from both sides, but it wasn’t like they completely shut down each other’s offensive flow. Patriots’ wide receiver Julian Edelman was able to win Super Bowl MVP with his 10 receptions for 143 yards. Brady had a good game, passing for over 250 yards. Rams offensive players had good games as well.

I think one of the key factors to the low scoring was good special teams’ performances from both sides. There was a lot of yardage from both teams but the special teams did a really good job pinning each other deep in their own half of the field. Field position is key, and it led to some long drives with no points recorded.

Here’s the other thing; the last couple of Super Bowls have been pretty exciting with a lot of points scored and it being pretty close all the way throughout those games. The last blowout of a Super Bowl was back in the 2013 season, when the Seattle Seahawks played the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 48. The Patriots vs. Rams Super Bowl was close until the end, making much more exciting than a blowout.
So argue with me all you want, but this year’s Super Bowl was exciting for any down-to-earth football fan. If you disagree, fine; I don’t care. The Patriots have a sixth Super Bowl, and your team probably has none.

Hate us ‘cause they ain’t us.