Prior to kickoff, the pre-match build-up revolved around the prospects of Tom Brady winning his sixth Super Bowl ring, a feat which would make him the only player in history to do so, only surpassing the pass rusher, Charles Haley. But before he could achieve this, there was one last obstacle Brady and the Patriots were forced to overcome: The Los Angeles Rams.
Both teams headed into the Super Bowl with high expectations. The Rams had an attacking game capable of demolishing most teams, with the season’s second-highest average points per game, whilst the Patriots were fourth on this list. It would not have taken an NFL fanatic to reach the conclusion that Super Bowl LIII was going to be a high scoring affair. Professional predictions averaged, at most, a three-point loss with a finalised score no lower than 20 for either team.
Yet, as they say, the ‘best-laid plans of mice and men gang aft a-gley,’ or in other words, not all predictions lead to a correct outcome. The Super Bowl turned out to be a defensive contest which hogged most of the game’s limelight. At the start of the game, it was clear by an interception on Brady’s first throw that neither team would win by playing a game of attack. The Rams laid out a strong message at the onset- Super Bowl LIII would not be an easy win for the Patriots. Thus, from a game thought to be determined by the offensives, the defenses of both teams reached unprecedented heights, making it very difficult for their opponents to find an opening. The first quarter drew to a close with neither side troubling the scorers. It was 15 minutes worth of a masterclass on the art of defending. Jared Goff and Tom Brady’s plans were clearly unsuccessful.
The second quarter, too, was a drawn-out struggle, yet following a 25-yard pass from Brady to Edelman, a player who was exerting an extremely positive influence on the game, Gostkowski finished the possession with a field goal from over 40 yards out. However, that was it in terms of scoring as the first half came to an end. Both defenses had stood strong, culminating in there being no touchdowns thus far.
The second half commenced with each defense carrying their momentum from the opening half, resulting in both teams being forced to punt twice. One of those punts, by the Rams’ player, Johnny Hekker, was worthy of a Super Bowl record at -65 yards, truly an incredible feat. It seemed as though this game would be void of any touchdowns as Goff and Brady struggled to execute substantial passes. Greg Zuerlein, impressed with a 53-yard field goal to bring the Rams back on level terms prior to the end of the third quarter. However, as they say, when the going gets tough, the experienced players on your team need to deliver. Having been out on the field longer than the Patriots’ defense in the first three quarters, the Rams seemed to lose focus, quickly allowing Brady to combine with Gronkowski to accomplish a string of passes in the same drive, 13 and 29 yards respectively, which left the Patriots 2 yards away from the first touchdown of the game. On the next play, the Patriots finally delivered with Sony Michel making a touchdown. Gostkowski converted and with the extra point, the Patriots had a 10-3 lead.
The Rams had a golden opportunity to hit back straight away. The drive was going well for them, with Goff executing a handful of decent passes. However, attempting an ambitious pass to Cooks who was nearing the 3-yard line, Goff’s delivery was intercepted by Pats Cornerback, Stephon Gilmore. With such a monumental play, the Rams saw their chances for the Vince Lombardi Trophy slipping away as the fourth quarter began to draw to a close. A well-executed field goal by Gostkowski was then followed with a failed attempt wasted by the Rams. As the Patriots slowly ran down the clock, Tom Brady finally clinched his 6th Super Bowl win since 2002.
While the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player was awarded to Edelman, it could be argued that with this win, Tom Brady has asserted himself as the Most Valuable Player in NFL history.
Because of this, Super Bowl LIII was a true spectacle and fine demonstration of strategic gameplay at its best. Both sides held their ground, but once the Patriots broke free, the sports history books were already being rewritten…