Jeff Roberson/Associated Press
The New England Patriots are champions once again, winning Super Bowl LIII with a 13-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams.
Tom Brady had 262 passing yards Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta—141 of them to Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman—as the Patriots won their sixth title in the last 18 years and third in the last five.
Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter
*Tom Brady now breaks Charles Haley’s record for most Super Bowl wins by a player.
*Bill Belichick now ties George Halas and Curly Lambeau for most NFL championships by a head coach.
*Patriots now tie Steelers for the most Super Bowl titles.
It was the defenses (and punters) that surprisingly shined for most of the game, with the score just 3-3 going into the fourth quarter. Sony Michel finally scored the first and only touchdown of the night halfway through the fourth quarter to help give New England a 10-3 lead.
Stephon Gilmore ended the Rams’ threat with an interception on the next possession, while Stephen Gostkowski sealed the win with his second field goal of the night.
The Rams won 15 total games this season during an unbelievable two-year transformation, but they fell just short of their first title since the 1999 season.
Quarterback Jared Goff was held to 229 passing yards and Todd Gurley finished with just 35 rushing yards as Bill Belichick and the Patriots defense shut down the No. 2 offense in football.
Patriots Show Their Dynasty Is Still Far From Over
As much as fans of 31 other teams want the Patriots to stop winning, it’s clear they aren’t going anywhere.
Brady is 41 years old, but he continues to play at an extremely high level with his pinpoint accuracy when it mattered most. Even without a touchdown in the box score, this play helped set up the only score by Michel:
Brady and Gronk looking GOOD.
📺: #SBLIII on CBS https://t.co/LJjHpUNVMj
He finished 21-of-35 for 262 yards in the win. To make matters worse for opponents, he refuses to call it quits.
“When I suck, I’ll retire,” the quarterback said in an interview that aired Sunday on NFL Network.
Winning his sixth career championship indicates this time isn’t coming any time soon.
There has been discussion of the Patriots demise for several years now, pretty much coming any time the team loses a game. The whispers got louder this season when the team lost its fifth regular-season game, its most since 2009.
After losing in the Super Bowl to the Philadelphia Eagles last year, some thought we might have already seen Brady raise the Lombardi Trophy for the final time. The future Hall of Famer definitely didn’t look quite as dominant in 2018 as we have seen in the past.
However, New England outplayed its opponents throughout the playoffs and did enough to bring home yet another Super Bowl.
We were once again reminded that as long as Brady is under center and Bill Belichick is on the sidelines, this squad will remain a favorite to win it all.
It should also be said that when we get into a situation next year where we wonder if the dynasty is finally over, just wait until the Patriots are officially eliminated from the playoffs.
Todd Gurley Will Never Live Down No-Show
For three months this season, Todd Gurley was considered a serious MVP candidate. During the Rams’ two most important games, he was nearly invisible.
The running back finished with 35 yards on 10 carries with negative-one receiving yard on a night when the Rams struggled to move the football with any consistency.
Pretty much everyone watching along, including some active players, were wondering what was going on with the All-Pro player:
Ryan Clark @Realrclark25
Todd Gurley must have all of a sudden lost all the stuff that made him great or they are lying about his injury…. Ain’t no way a $65 M player missed this many snaps in the Super Bowl!
This came after Gurley was limited to 10 yards on four carries in the NFC Championship Game against the New Orleans Saints.
Injuries would be a reasonable excuse, especially after he missed the last few games with a knee injury, but head coach Sean McVay explained that it wasn’t the case.
“He’s feeling good,” McVay said Friday, per Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com. “A hundred percent.”
Running back coach Skip Peete also indicated earlier in the week the plan was to split the workload between two running backs, per Lindsay Jones of The Athletic.
Although this could just be some gamesmanship, Gurley’s lack of usage was otherwise unbelievable in a championship game.
McVay has been touted as an offensive genius for years, but he kept one of his best weapons on the bench for long stretches of time.
C.J. Anderson also didn’t do much better with seven carries for 22 yards in the game.
Even if more injury information comes out in the future, Gurley will likely always be remembered for this moment. Any discussion of his career will come with a list of Pro Bowl selections as well as a reminder that he was barely used in the Super Bowl.
Meanwhile, the coaching staff will have to wonder if the poor decision-making cost the team a win.
Big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games. The Rams running back came up small in this one, and it will go down as one of the strangest situations in recent NFL history.
Julian Edelman Deserves Recognition as an Elite WR After Another Dominant Performance
When listing the best receivers over the past five years, Julian Edelman is rarely in the conversation. Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, DeAndre Hopkins and others have put up bigger numbers and are more imposing for an opposing defense.
However, the Patriots receiver showed why he is as valuable as anyone in the NFL with his effort Sunday.
Edelman was virtually the only offensive player doing anything in the first half, totaling seven catches for 93 yards before Maroon 5 took the stage. He kept it going after halftime to end up with 10 catches for 141 yards while being named Most Valuable Player of the Super Bowl.
While some would say he is just a product of playing alongside Brady, his route running and runs after the catch showed he did more to help his quarterback Sunday than the other way around:
.@edelman11 finds all sorts of open space.
And Tom Brady takes advantage.
Move the sticks!
📺: #SBLIII on CBS https://t.co/jxNm1HCoyc
Brady + @edelman11 connect AGAIN.
This time for 27 yards. The longest play of the game so far.
📺: #SBLIII on CBS https://t.co/TnjSZw0P8M
He was nearly unguardable out of the slot, even with several experienced cornerbacks taking turns defending him.
This type of performance was also nothing new for the 32-year-old:
NFL Research @NFLResearch
Julian Edelman has passed Michael Irvin for the 2nd-most receiving yards in NFL postseason history
Only Jerry Rice has more receiving yards than Edelman in the playoffs
CBS Sports HQ @CBSSportsHQ
Julian Edelman now has 13 straight postseason games with at least 5 catches and 50-plus receiving yards. https://t.co/Tp55sTyfsh
He entered the day averaging eight catches and 102.3 yards per game in the playoffs over the last five years and easily improved upon each stat against the Rams.
Just as important as the numbers, Edelman always seem to come through in big moments and is usually Brady’s go-to option on third downs. This was also apparent in the AFC Championship Game when he helped convert two 3rd-and-long attempts in an overtime win against the Kansas City Chiefs.
These conversions don’t get the same publicity as touchdowns, but they are often just as vital in helping your team win.
Although his overall numbers don’t match others in his era, the Hall of Fame discussion we saw this week might not be all that wild for the now three-time Super Bowl champion.
At the very least, the clutch receiver should be considered one of the best at his position and a true game-changer at this level.
The road to Super Bowl LIV in Miami begins now with all 32 teams back in contention. The Patriots and Rams could be back next season, but every other team in the NFL will spend the offseason improving to potentially reach this point a year from now.