Defense shines in Patriots’ Super Bowl win over Rams


New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore (24) gets an interception in the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Rams during Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019. The Patriots won, 13-3. (John Spink/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

Zachary Letson

Through dominant defense and clutch play late, the Patriots won their sixth Super Bowl in franchise history with a 13-3 win over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl 53 Feb. 4.

If you’re a fan of points and fireworks, this was not the game for you. This game was all about New England’s defense, who brought the Rams’ #2 league-wide scoring offense to a screeching halt. LA had averaged 32.9 points per game during the regular season, yet couldn’t muster a point in the first half, and didn’t even make it inside the Patriots 20 yard line once — the entire game.

Los Angeles Rams receiver Brandin Cooks (12) walks away as New England Patriots defensive backs celebrate an interception by Stephon Gilmore (24) in the fourth quarter during Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019. The Patriots won, 13-3. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times/TNS

It could have been the lack of experience for Rams Quarterback Jared Goff and Coach Sean McVay, who both in the beginning of their careers had never been remotely close to sniffing a Super Bowl. Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady and Head Coach Bill Belichick, the QB-Coach tandem they were facing, had been to nine of them. Or maybe the Patriots defense is just that good.

It’s the “been there, done that” mentality that has given the Patriots this incredible confidence seemingly every January. Regardless of what regular season challenges New England faces on a year-to-year basis, the issues appear to all go away come playoff time. This was not a regular season to remember for the Patriots losing to struggling teams in Jacksonville, Tennessee, and Miami. But the team still pile drove the Los Angeles Chargers within the first five minutes of the AFC Divisional Round and took down the Kansas City Chiefs on their home soil to claim yet another AFC Crown and end up right back in the Bowl. There’s no doubt that they know how to win when it matters most.

New England Patriots running back Sony Michel (26) takes a handoff from quarterback Tom Brady (12) in the third quarter against the Los Angeles Rams during Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

It was with this swagger that the Patriots played with as the game unfolded. The Rams defense, maligned all year showed up and intercepted Brady on his first throw. New England did not flinch. The Rams could get nothing going in the first half offensively. Even if LA had lost the game, that wasn’t the predicted outcome. Rams Running Back Todd Gurley has been the best back in the NFL since September, yet he struggled mightily against the front seven of New England. Nothing was working for McVay, who had seemingly every offensive gimmick working for him all season long.

This defensive dominance by the Patriots made the gameplan a lot simpler for Brady. He just needed to lead a drive down the field that resulted in a touchdown. Wide Receiver Julian Edelman was Brady’s go-to man all night long. Edelman gashed the Rams defense with 10 receptions for 141 yards and was the only offensive player on either team that truly had a breakout performance. The wideout made a catch on the game-winning drive that helped the Patriots begin moving the ball down the field. Edelman would win Super Bowl MVP.

New England Patriots receiver Julian Edelman picks up big yards as he slips the tackle of the Los Angeles Rams’ John Johnson in the third quarter in Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019. The Patriots won, 13-3. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Shortly after that completion, Brady delivered his best throw of the night when he snuck in a perfect pass to Tight End Rob Gronkowski, setting up a 1st and Goal at the Rams two yard line, and on the very next play, Rookie Running Back Sony Michel punched it in for the game’s only touchdown.

The Rams led a counter drive that had life before New England Cornerback Stephon Gilmore intercepted Goff at the Patriots four yard line. From there, the Patriots could taste victory.

Through the best defensive performance the Patriots ever have put on display in a Super Bowl, an unexpected star performance from Julian Edelman, and Tom Brady playing clutch once again, the Patriots dynasty reached Super Bowl win number six.