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Patriots capture its sixth Superbowl

by Paul Cifonelli - Staff Writer
Sat, Feb 9th 2019 02:00 pm

During the lead up to Super Bowl LIII, all people could talk about was offense. According to ESPN, the Los Angeles Rams averaged the second most yards per game in the NFL, while the New England Patriots came in at fifth. With the Rams averaging 421.1 yards and 32.9 points per game and the Patriots averaging 393.4 yards and 27.3 points, offense was going to reign supreme.

However, that was merely talk.

The Rams entered the game with a star-studded defense headlined by two-time Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald, yet, the unit had struggled throughout the season. High-profile additions in the offseason and regular season were not enough to keep the defense out of the bottom third of the league.

The Patriots defense didn’t have the star-studded cast that the Rams did but still got similar results on the campaign. DE Trey Flowers and LB Kyle Van Noy led the front seven during a somewhat unimpressive campaign. On the flip side, DBs Stephon Gilmore, Jason McCourty and Devin McCourty led a surprisingly effective secondary.

These two underperforming units became the headline of the Super Bowl.

QBs Tom Brady and Jared Goff were unable to figure out the opposing defenses from the start. Both quarterbacks ended the game with reasonable looking stat lines but getting there was rather ugly. Throw in rushing attacks that didn’t have the normal punch and you got a defensive-minded football game that was going to be won by the team that made less mistakes on offense.

The first half of the game was completely dominated by the defenses with a Stephen Gostkowski field goal providing the only scoring of the half. New England took a 3-0 lead into halftime, which was the second lowest halftime score in Super Bowl history. Super Bowl IX was a 2-0 game at halftime. The offensive numbers for Los Angeles were nothing like the ones during the regular season. The Rams gained a measly 57 total yards in the first half. For comparison’s sake, Patriots WR Julian Edelman, the Super Bowl MVP, had seven catches for 93 yards in the first half.

While people hoping for an offensive game had reason to be optimistic starting the second half, they got more of the same. There was no scoring and hardly any offense in the third quarter. The Rams were able to move the ball just enough to set up a Greg Zuerlein field goal near the end of the quarter. With the score at 3-3 headed to the fourth, it was the only Super Bowl in history that had not seen a touchdown after three quarters of play.

The fourth quarter started as all the other did but the Patriots found its way on its second drive of the quarter. Brady looked like his vintage self for one drive, throwing long passes to TE Rob Gronkowski and Edelman. A 29-yard completion from Brady to Gronkowski put New England on the Rams’ two-yard line. RB Sony Michel punched it in for the game’s first touchdown on the next play. The touchdown run by Michel would end up being the only snap either team had in the red zone all game.

The Rams got the ball back with exactly seven minutes to play and immediately began to drive down the field. Once they got to the Patriots’ 27 things got ugly. Goff threw a pass that was intended for WR Brandin Cooks that was nearly intercepted. He was not so lucky on the next throw. Goff floated one towards the end zone that one intended for Cooks again. Gilmore camped underneath it and easily intercepted it at the two-yard line. This put a halt to the Rams’ last good chance to score. After the game, Goff acknowledged that the pass was ill-advised after the game.

Obviously, I should have thrown it away," Goff said to NFL.com’s Michael Silver. "I knew it was 'zero' - of course I did - but I thought I could make a play. I didn't realize Gilmore was staring at me, and I threw too early. I put it in a bad spot. It was dumb. It was stupid. I will learn from it. But it really hurts right now.”

New England marched down the field and kicked a field goal with 1:12 remaining in the game. The Rams followed it up by a frantic march down the field, only for Zuerlein to miss a field goal. Brady took a knee to capture his sixth Super Bowl title.

Finally got a touchdown and the defense played the best game of the year,” Brady told the Associated Press after the game.

The Patriots defensive players were very proud of the game they played against one of the premier offenses in the game. LB Dont'a Hightower was tired of Brady receiving all the credit for the Patriots’ success, so he said the defense had a little extra incentive.

I’m tired of hearing about Brady,” Hightower joked to the Associated Press. “I won one today — we all got one. It feels good for us to get it all. Shout out to him getting his, but this is a team game and it feels good to win.”

The win gives Brady the record for the most Super Bowls won by a single player. It also puts the Patriots in a tie with the Steelers for the most Super Bowls won as a franchise.

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Taken by Vincent Croce:
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