New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick continuously states to his players “do your job.” Seems pretty simple, do your job and win the football game. Belichick takes this mentality into every play, game, and season and quite frankly, its paid off for him. His quarterback Tom Brady knows this philosophy inside and out, and the dynamic duo took it right into Sunday night’s Super Bowl down in Atlanta.
The Patriots had a tough test ahead of them facing off against the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams came into the game with an all-round great team lead by the youngest coach in history to take a team to the Super Bowl in Sean McVay. At 33 years of age, McVay was set to coach the biggest game of his life and knew the task at hand was not going to be easy.
Both teams had arguably top five offenses in the league. The Patriots led by Tom Brady have proven time and time again that they can still put up points with the best of offenses at Brady’s age of 41. The Rams, led by Jared Goff out of the University of California at age 24, has been surrounded by some of the best offensive players in the league with running back Todd Gurley, and wide receiver Brandin Cooks.
As the Super Bowl kicked off it became apparent fast, that both teams high powered offense would be stymied by both defenses. In fact, on Brady’s first throw of the game he was intercepted on a tipped ball by Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman and the ball fell into the hands of Corey Littleton.
It was now Jared Goff’s turn to prove he belonged in the big game and well, his inexperience showed. The Rams could not find a way to break through the Patriots defense. Goff’s inability to read the Patriots defense at the line showed in his play. Goff also missed a few guys wide open when he had the chance to move the ball. He missed Josh Reynolds wide open in the middle of the field in the Patriots zone defense for an easy first down. He also took too long to see Brandin Cooks wide open for an easy six points in the back of the end zone down field.
The Patriots defensive line was busting through the Rams offensive line which put pressure on Goff to throw the ball. Same can be said for the Rams defensive as well. Led by defensive player of the year for the second year in a row in Aaron Donald and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, the Rams defensive line pushed the Patriots offensive line further and further back.
The main difference in the game was how both quarterbacks adjusted to the pressure. Goff did not adjust well taking sacks on key third downs when the Rams needed to move the ball. Brady on the other hand found one way to move the ball. With pressure baring down on him he got rid of the ball quick. Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman can be the man to thank for that.
Edelman started the season suspended for the first four games after he was caught using PEDs but that did not matter for Sundays Super Bowl. No matter where Edelman lined up on the field, either in the slot or on the outside, the Rams defense had no idea on how to stop the five-foot ten receiver. In the ten catches that Edelman had, eight were for first downs, and six were for ten yards or more. Edelman was finding the soft spots in the Rams defense and it proved costly.
Going into the fourth quarter, the score was only 3-3 on a Patriots field goal made by kicker Stephen Gostkowski back in the second quarter, and a field goal made by Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein in the third. It was the first time in Super Bowl history a touchdown had not been scored in the first three quarters of the game.
Five minutes into the fourth, New England started with the ball on their own 31-yard line. After a quick pass to tight end Rob Gronkowski for 18 yards, Brady had moved the offense up to mid field. With half the field to go for six points, the Patriots ran the same play three times hitting three different receivers to get them down to the two-yard line.
From there rookie running back Sony Michel who had just played a National Championship game for Georgia 13 months prior to the Super Bowl held in the same stadium, ran the ball in for a touchdown giving New England a 9-3 lead. With the extra point good, the Patriots were up 10-3 with seven minutes left to go.
With just over four minutes left to go in the game Goff got the ball back and had the end zone in sight. With pressure bearing down on him, Goff dropped back and threw the ball of his back foot intended for Brandin Cooks but intercepted by All-Pro Stephon Gilmore.
New England would take the ball, go down the field, and kick another field goal which decided the fate of the game.
With the final score 13-3, the Patriots cemented their sixth Super Bowl win and Brady became the oldest quarterback to ever win a Super Bowl. Brady was not the only person to be the oldest to win a Super Bowl as Belichick became the oldest winning Super Bowl head coach.
After the game Rams running back C.J. Anderson said, “Last time I checked, defense wins championships.”
That certainly held true in this Super Bowl as both defenses played outstanding but when it comes down to it New England’s defense was just that little bit better. New England’s offense held the ball for more than half of the game which wore out the Rams defense by the end.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is a hall of famer and a six-time Super Bowl Champion; however, he wasn’t typical Brady Sunday night. Finding Edelman ten times for 141 yards counted for Brady’s 253 passing yards. Edelman’s play won him the Super Bowl MVP as it should have with him being a thorn in the Rams side all game.
Goff’s play was bad, but another issue was where was Todd Gurley again? Gurley regarded as one of the best running backs in the league yet was nonexistent in the past two games for the Rams. Those two games were the Rams biggest of the year but did not utilize their first string running back. A lot have speculated that Gurley was injured but yet, he still took snaps in the game on 10 rushing attempts.
Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower said, “We’re a relentless team. We didn’t give up. A lot was thrown at us. When we play like we did tonight, we can’t be beat.”
Hightower’s statement can relate right back to Belichick’s philosophy. Everyone did their job on the defensive side of the ball. Under McVay, the Rams had never been blanked in the first half of a football game and the Patriots held them to three points all game.
Brady and Belichick are a great team in amongst themselves. Brady came out last week and stated that he will not retire until he’s 45. That means four more years of Brady and Belichick as a duo. Only time will tell if more championships will come to New England for the Patriots with Brady and Belichick there. As long as they continuously do their jobs, and their pretty good at it, the New England Patriots will be contenders.