Super Bowl LIII now in the rear-view mirror, and another Vince Lombardi trophy for the New England Patriots secured. But who impressed the most? And who didn’t?
Following the Patriots’ 13-3 win over the Los Angeles Rams at the Mercedes-Benz stadium in Atlanta, we’ve picked out some of the winners and losers from Super Bowl Sunday…
While Julian Edelman was named the MVP of Super Bowl LIII, there can be no doubt that the biggest winner from Sunday was Tom Brady. Literally.
With the Patriots’ win over the Rams, Brady won his record sixth Super Bowl, to set himself apart from any other player in NFL history.
Brady didn’t have his best game, throwing an interception on the opening drive of the game, and subsequently had just the 262 yards passing with zero TDs in a game dominated by defense.
But Brady did still deliver some big strikes to Edelman (10 catches, 141 yards) throughout and expertly led the game-winning drive when it was tied up 3-3 late in the fourth quarter, completing a key 29-yard pass to Rob Gronkowski to set up Sony Michel’s goal-line score.
Brady being overlooked for Super Bowl MVP was widely expected, however, many felt it was Stephon Gilmore, not Edelman, who was most deserving of the honour.
In a defensive-dominated Super Bowl, in which the Patriots’ stellar unit allowed only three points, Gilmore was the standout – five tackles, three pass break-ups, a forced fumble and the game-clinching interception in the fourth quarter.
Following that Patriots go-ahead scoring drive ending in Michel’s TD, the Rams were driving down the field looking to tie things up, only for Gilmore to make a leaping grab to pick off Jared Goff’s errant throw intended for Brandin Cooks. Game over.
Gilmore’s stunning Super Bowl effort capped a fine year for the defensive back, who earned All-Pro honours for the first time in 2018.
To say Super Bowl LIII was slow to get going would be quite the understatement. At one stage, a punt – yes, a punt – was the highlight of the game.
As the Patriots and Rams traded in the things for much of the game, LA’s Johnny Hekker kicked a Super Bowl record 65-yarder.
The Rams were backed up near their own goal line after the Patriots had them pinned in with a punt of their own, but Hekker somehow managed to send the ball back into New England territory courtesy of a fortunate bounce or two and much to the ‘excitement’ of Jim Nantz and Tony Romo in the CBS commentary box.
Sadly for him, the Rams offense found moving the ball with the same efficiency a little trickier.
There is no doubting Sean McVay is still one of the premier head coaches in the NFL. But the bubble has burst a little given the extent of the Rams’ struggles on offense in the Super Bowl.
Los Angeles’ Mcvay-inspired turnaround – taking a 4-12 team in 2016 to a combined 24-8 over the last two years – has inspired a raft of NFL teams on the outside of the playoffs to look for the ‘next McVay’ as their next coaching hire, in the hope it leads to similar success.
But on the game’s biggest stage, McVay far from lived up to his ‘offensive guru’ billing, with his team being held scoreless in the first half for the first time under his stewardship, and their three points total for the game their lowest ever tally.
The blame can’t be solely placed at McVay’s door, however, as his young quarterback Goff looked utterly lost throughout, and Todd Gurley’s ineffective playoff run – whether due to form or fitness is still unclear – continued. Even so, McVay was far more conservative with his play calling than we’ve come to expect and was comfortably out-maneuvered by head-coaching maestro Bill Belichick.
The real losers in all of this really were the fans.
While there is much to appreciate from good defense – and this game had plenty – this was the lowest-scoring Super Bowl in NFL history, and we had to wait a full 53 minutes for the first (and only) touchdown.
One positive at least was that the game remained close throughout. Tied up at 3-3 after three quarters, even when the Patriots finally registered that TD, the Rams came close to levelling the game again and setting up a thrilling grandstand finish – had Goff’s throw to Cooks not been significantly short, allowing Gilmore to make a play.
Despite the record low score there have been worse Super Bowls, but hurting this game is that it just promised so much more.
While the entertainment on the field was at times unremarkable, the entertainment off the field was even less of a spectacle.
Maroon 5 were harshly criticised for their involvement in this year’s Super Bowl half-time show – seen by some as selling out to the NFL, who have come under fire for their handling of player protests and the alleged blacklisting of Colin Kaepernick, who began the practise of kneeling during the US national anthem to raise awareness of racial inequality and police brutality.
Lost in that conversation, however, was how Justin Timberlake was allowed to perform at last year’s Super Bowl in Minnesota without finding himself under the microscope to anywhere near the same degree.