With eight minutes to go in Super Bowl LIII’s fourth quarter, New England Patriots fans at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium started a “Brady, Brady” chant.
The veteran quarterback answered their prayers, as Greatest-of-all-Time Tom Brady began to surgically carve up the Los Angeles Rams secondary, loosening up what had been a tight defensive struggle to that point.
The key play of the drive was a smooth long pass to tight end Rob Gronkowski that saw the big man hit the seam and rumble down to the two-yard-line. Running back Sony Michel quickly ran it in from there for the first touchdown of the game, making it 10-3 New England.
That was pretty much the game, as New England went on to add a late 41-yard field goal to make it 13-3, winning the sixth Super Bowl championship for coach Bill Belichick and Brady, certifying their continued greatness and partially making up for a stinging defeat in last year’s Super Bowl.
The Rams had their chances in the game. Late in the fourth quarter, Rams receiver Brandin Cooks dropped a ball that appeared bound for a touchdown, a play that was followed immediately by a Goff interception by New England’s Stephon Gilmore to kill their best drive of the day.
The Rams also missed an earlier opportunity when a long pass into the end zone to Cooks was broken up by Jason McCourty, who came out of nowhere to knock the ball out of Cooks’s hands as he waited. Capping the Rams’ night of missed opportunities was a missed 48-yard field goal by Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein late in the fourth, killing the Rams last hope of a comeback.
Despite their offensive struggles in the game, the Rams were in the game until the end, only a score away from tying or taking the lead for most of the game. Their lone score came when Zuerlein hit a 53-yard field goal as the third quarter wound down to knot the game at 3-3. It was the first 50-plus field goal in the Super Bowl in 15 years.
Even though the game was close, the Rams always appeared to be back on their heels. Midway through the third quarter, Goff’s line was just 5/15 for 52 yards. By comparison, New England’s Brady, at that point, was closing in on 200 passing yards.
So overwhelming was New England’s defense that Goff never found a great rhythm. “This is hard to watch,” said CBS analyst Tony Romo at one point, as he saw the Rams quarterback swarmed by the New England defense.
About the only bright note for the Rams throughout the game was Johnny Hekker’s punting, which included a 65-yarder, the longest in Super Bowl history. But his frequent appearances were testament to how much the Rams struggled to move the football, and by the third quarter, their longest drive was only five plays long.
Romo, in his first Super Bowl, acquitted himself nicely as an analyst. At one point in the third quarter, he said before the play that Goff had to stand in the pocket and take a hit while delivering the ball downfield. That’s exactly what happened, making Romo, once again, look like a genius.
New England receiver Julian Edelman was the MVP of the Super Bowl. Edelman had 10 catches for 141 yards and a rush for 8 yards, constantly buzzing in the middle of the field. The award was retribution for Edelman, who missed the 2017 season with a torn ACL, but came back strong this year.
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