0:00. That’s the ball game. Goff completes three passes to get to within field goal range with eight seconds left, but Zuerlein misses the 48-yard field goal attempt that would have set up an “onside kick and Hail Mary” scenario. A fitting end. Pats win a sixth Super Bowl. Patriots 13, Rams 3.
1:12. The Rams need a quick stop. They don’t get it.
- First-and-10 from the 4: Ndamukong Suh stops Michel for one yard.
- Second-and-9 from the 5: Huuuuuuuge hole for Michel, who explodes off right guard for 26 yards. Clock under three minutes.
- First-and-10 from the 31: Dante Fowler Jr. gets called for illegal hands to the face.
- First-and-10 from the 38: Michel for three yards. The Rams call their second timeout with 2:42 left.
- Second-and-7 from the 41: Burkhead for 26 yards. Pretty much ball game.
- First-and-10 from the LA 33: Michel gains four yards, and the Rams have to decline two Patriots penalties because they need it to be second down.
- Second-and-6 from the 29: Michel gains five yards, and we’re to the two-minute warning.
- Third-and-1 from the 24: Michel gets stuffed just short of the chains.
Belichick puts a lot of trust in Gostkowski, electing to kick a 41-yard field goal instead of going for it on fourth-and-inches. It looks like it’s hooking, but it curls in.
Ball game. Patriots 13, Rams 3.
4:17. INTERCEPTION. After a touchback, a nearly disastrous screen to Cooks turns into a 19-yard catch-and-run to the 44. Gurley gains just one yard on first down, and a pressured Goff short-arms a pass to Woods, but on third-and-9, Goff finds Reynolds for 11. Clock to five minutes.
Woods catches another ball in traffic (he now has six catches for 75 yards) to the Pats’ 27, then Goff lobs a perfect pass to Cooks, who drops the ball then gets crushed by Duron Harmon. On second down, the Pats’ pass rush gets home quickly, Goff rushes his pass, and Stephon Gilmore picks off the pass at the 4. That could be ballgame.
Patriots 10, Rams 3.
7:00. TOUCHDOWN. Crunch time? Time to lean on familiar names. Some wheel route action to Gronk gains 18 yards to near midfield, then Brady-to-Edelman gains 13. After a seven-yarder to Burkhead, Brady lobs to Gronk among three defenders. He of course catches it at the Rams’ 2.
Michel scores on the next play. After 53 minutes, a touchdown. And in extremely familiar fashion. Patriots 10, Rams 3.
9:49. Well, we just got the most creative punting drive of the day, at least.
- Anderson makes a nice catch and run.
- Goff — Goff! — commits a false start.
- Anderson accidentally fumbles out of bounds while attempting a stanky-leg juke.
- Goff hits Cooks on third-and-2.
- Gurley loses a yard on a short pass.
- The Patriots call timeout.
- Goff throws wide of a well-covered Gerald Everett, and, on third-and-11, he throws to no one in particular. Only ... defensive holding! First down, and the Rams are still only at their 22.
- Goff steps up comfortably and fires complete to Cooks for 16 yards.
- A big run by Gurley is negated by offensive holding, and it’s quickly third-and-22.
- A Gurley draw goes nowhere, and the Rams punt, having moved the ball 28 yards in five minutes. Pats’ ball at their 31.
14:47. The fourth quarter begins in familiar fashion: a third-down pass is broken up, and then a punt checks up perfectly inside the 5. If not for Edelman, you could make the case that Allen has been the Pats’ MVP, just as Hekker has been the Rams’. #PunterShow
Patriots 3, Rams 3.
0:00. The Pats’ ground game actually finds some traction for the first time since the opening drive. A 19-yarder from Michel moves New England to midfield, and two short rushes set up what will be a third-and-4 to start the fourth quarter.
Through 45 minutes, we have had zero red zone snaps. This is mind-blowing.
3:40. FIELD GOAL. ACTUAL POINTS. FIRST DOWN, RAMS. Goff finds Reynolds for seven yards, then Anderson slams up the middle for four. Going no-huddle, Goff connects with Cooks for 16 yards to midfield,
It’s quickly third-and-7 from there, but Goff makes by far his best pass of the night, delivering an 18-yard strike to Woods under pressure. They’re in field goal range, and after a timeout, Goff finds a wide open Cooks in the end zone. Only, he finds him too late, and Jason McCourty has a chance to catch up and break up a potential TD. After a short pass to Anderson, Goff is blown up by Hightower for a nine-yard sack. Luckily, a 53-yarder for Greg Zuerlein is like a 30-yarder for humans. It weaves through the uprights. Patriots 3, Rams 3.
6:33. Edelman catches an eight-yard pass on second-and-13, but a deep shot to Hogan is broken up nicely by Peters. He’s made some nice plays this half, and Brady is 0-for-6 passing to Hogan in this game (and 17-for-24 to everyone else). Another solid Allen punt means the Rams will start at their 23. Quite the field-flipping half. Patriots 3, Rams 0.
I just realized there still hasn’t been a snap in the red zone in this game. My god.
8:36. Pinned deep, the Rams are conservative as well. Two Gurley carries gain four yards, and Goff has no one to pass to. He throws the ball away under pressure. Another three-and-out, but Hekker gets a phenomenal roll on what seems like a short punt. It ends up a 65-yarder, and the Pats will start at their 29.
This is what constitutes a highlight in this game:
Patriots 3, Rams 0. Eight Rams drives, eight punts.
10:06. The Pats come out conservative. Michel gains four yards, and Burkhead gains two, and on third-and-4, Brady finds Edelman on a quick strike, and he finds open field and gains 27 yards.
Edelman has 120 yards. The Rams have 78.
Quickly, it’s third-and-2 again, and Peters gets physical with Edelman and forces an incompletion. (The refs have certainly been consistent in letting the DBs get physical.) But the 27-yarder flipped the field, and Ryan Allen took it from there: his 49-yard punt is downed at the Rams’ 2. Patriots 3, Rams 0.
14:07. The Rams get the ball to start the second half, and Gurley’s in again. On the first play, Goff damn near throws a pick six, but on the second, Gurley cuts up the middle for a 16-yard run.
Gurley then goes over left end for five yards. The Pats’ Patrick Chung, injured in the third quarter last year in the Super Bowl, leaves the game with an apparent arm injury, and then Gurley is stopped for no gain.
First blitz down of the half for the Rams, and Stephon Gilmore breaks up a pass to Cooks. Another Hekker punt, fair caught at the Pats’ 8. Patriots 3, Rams 0.
- Total yards: Pats 195, Rams 27
- Yards per play: Pats 4.9, Rams 2.6
- First downs: Pats 12, Rams 2
- Passing: Brady 15-for-25 for 160 yards and 1 INT, Goff 5-for-12 for 52 yards.
- Rushing: Michel 6-22 and Burkhead 4-13 for the Pats, Anderson 4-10 and Gurley 3-10 for the Rams.
- Receiving: Edelman 7-93 for the Pats, Woods 2-25 for the Rams.
- Red zone snaps: Pats 0, Rams 0
Rams have to feel really, really happy to be down only three.
0:00. Goff has had a forgettable half. He takes another sack (this time from Dont’a Hightower), makes a nice pass to Cooks for 14 yards, then throws low to a well-covered Woods on third-and-2. Hekker booms a punt to the Pats’ 2 with 16 seconds left, and the Pats kneel out a defense-heavy first half.
Patriots 3, Rams 0. In a year of big offense, we get the second lowest-scoring first half in Super Bowl history.
1:13. More Edelman. Two catches gain 19 yards — he’s got seven for 93 overall — and the Pats are to their 49 at the two-minute warning. After a short pass to Patterson, the Rams get caught with 12 players on the field at the snap. Pats to the 41 with 1:33 left.
Brady misfires horribly on a short screen to White, then misfires again to White short right. On third-and-10, he nails a much tougher throw to Patterson for nine yards, and after a Rams timeout, Brady threads a ball to a well-covered Gronk. It falls incomplete. Turnover on downs. Wade Phillips celebrates. Patriots 3, Rams 0.
3:57. Gurley’s back! Two carries from the Georgia product gain eight yards, but on third-and-2, Goff rolls right out of play action, holds the ball way too damn long, and gets sacked by Kyle Van Noy for a 14-yard loss. Throw the ball away, Jared.
Hekker’s punt takes a Patriots bounce and is downed at the NE 27. Patriots 3, Rams 0.
6:51. The Patriots’ first three rushes of the game gained 24 yards; their last nine have gained 18. After Burkhead gains just three on first down, Brady fires incomplete to Michel and then hits White for just five yards. Three-and-out. The Rams will start at their 45 after a punt and a New England penalty. Patriots 3, Rams 0.
7:50. JoJo Natson takes the kickoff to the 28 ... and Todd Gurley’s still on the bench. Anderson gains five yards, then Woods makes an incredible catch (which, on replay, doesn’t really look like a catch) along the sideline for 18 yards. After a short pass to Brandin Cooks, Danny Shelton blows up Anderson in the backfield to force a third-and-10. Then, irony of ironies, the Rams get kind of screwed by a bad pass interference non-call on a bomb attempt to Reynolds. Gurley wasn’t on the field at all on that drive. Patriots 3, Rams 0.
10:29. FIELD GOAL. Julian Edelman’s the MVP so far. He flips the field back with a 25-yard catch and run on third-and-1, but the Rams defense stiffens again. It’s quickly third-and-9, and Brady has to check down to Gronk, who gets lit up and comes off the field limping. Gostkowski makes the 42-yard field goal, though. No longer scoreless. Patriots 3, Rams 0.
13:58. The Rams’ offense is out of sorts. The second quarter begins with a false start, a short Anderson run, and a batted incompletion. But another 54-yarder from Hekker flips the field, at least. Total plays right now: Pats 22, Rams 11. Success rate: Pats 45%, Rams 36%. Rams 0, Patriots 0.
0:12. Edelman and then Edelman. A pair of completions to the former Kent State quarterback sandwich a near-interception, and the Pats are again in Rams territory. But then a coverage sack knocks them bad on the other side of the 50. John Franklin-Myers sacks and strips Brady, but NE recovers. And then Brady finds Gronk out right for 14 yards. Third-and-5 from the 40: another near-sack. Aaron Donald bulldozes a blocker, then forces a Brady throwaway. The punt is knocked out at the Rams’ 6. CJ Anderson goes up the middle for six yards, and the first quarter’s over.
Rams 0, Patriots 0. The first quarter is generally the lowest-scoring, but damn.
3:25. LA’s first successful offensive play comes nearly 10 minutes in. Robert Woods takes an end-around for five yards, then a play action rollout pass gets tipped but finds Reynolds for a first down into Pats territory. After another pressured throwaway, Goff finds Woods for seven yards, but on third-and-3, Patrick Chung breaks up a pass to Woods, and Hekker’s out to punt again because, as we know, Sean McVay is incredibly unaggressive on fourth downs.
Hekker shanks it — a 28-yarder out of bounds at the NE 19. Rams 0, Patriots 0.
5:35. MISSED FIELD GOAL. After a one-yard run by Michel, Brady throws another inaccurate pass to Michel. But on the first third-and-long of the game, Brady fires accurately to Julian Edelman, who sprints to the chains for 11 yards. Dante Fowler stuffs Michel on first down, then Robey-Coleman obliterates Rex Burkhead on a screen ... but he goes helmet-to-helmet on an unprotected Burkhead. That would have been another third-and-long, but it’s a first down for the Pats at the 35. Two Burkhead touches move the ball to near midfield, then an easy play-action pass to Rob Gronkowski gains 19. Patriots in field goal range.
The Rams are adjusting to the run. Burkhead gains just two yards on first down, then a downfield shot to Hogan is well-covered and incomplete. Third-and-8, and the Pats call another timeout, only to run a doomed draw play to James White. And then Stephen Gostkowski sails a 46-yard field goal badly wide left.
STILL SCORELESS. Rams 0, Patriots 0.
11:15. Ugly first possession for the Rams. Todd Gurley finds a hole but gets tripped up for two yards, Jared Goff scrambles right and throws the ball away, and a short pass to Josh Reynolds fails. Quick three-and-out, but Johnny Hekker booms a 54-yard punt, and Julian Edelman loses five yards on the return. New England ball at the 12. Rams 0, Patriots 0.
12:06. INTERCEPTION. The Rams win the toss and defer, so Tom Brady and the Patriots offense take the field first. Cordarrelle Patterson breaks off a nice return, and New England starts from the 39. One would assume that both teams will be looking to use the run as the path of least resistance, and Sony Michel starts the game with a 13-yard run. Twenty seconds into the game, New England’s in LA territory.
Two more rushes (one for Patterson, one for Michel) move the chains again, But after another Michel run, Tom Brady attempts his first pass of the game, to Chris Hogan. It’s bad. Nickell Robey-Coleman deflects it, and Cory Littleton picks it off at the Rams’ 27.
Rams 0, Patriots 0.
The New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams meet Sunday in Atlanta for Super Bowl 53. CBS will televise the game, and you can watch via stream at FuboTV, CBS All-Access, or CBS Sports. The game is slated to kick off at 6:30 p.m. ET.
I expect this game to be determined by passing downs success — both offenses are going to have the advantage most of the time, but the defense that takes better advantage of rare passing downs will likely be the winning defense.
In a game in which both teams have lots of offensive advantages, things could be decided on the rare occasions in which the defense has actually leveraged the offense into passing downs.
Standard downs success rate: Saints 50 percent, Rams 47 percent
Passing downs success rate: Rams 25 percent, Saints 14 percent [...]
In this game, the pass rush probably matters the most, at least when the Rams’ offense is on the field. New England finally figured out how to generate pressure late in the season, and after a brief, sputtering disaster in pass protection, the Rams once again figured out how to keep the pressure off of Jared Goff late in the year.
The NFL season was defined by offenses, but defensive play-makers will make the difference. Game on.