Perhaps it was the four-hour-and-15-minute flight between Los Angeles and Atlanta, or maybe it was a Rams fan base that lost patience with the franchise when it moved from St. Louis to Los Angeles. Maybe it was the specter of the Patriots and their tendency to win Super Bowls that kept Rams fans at home.
It sounded like a home game for New England in Mercedes-Benz Stadium throughout one of the most boring Super Bowls in NFL history. The Rams’ inability to score any touchdowns was a shocker from the team that ranked second in the NFL with an average of 32.9 points per game over the course of the regular season.
I walked around the 300-level concourse for a while before kickoff trying to find some Rams fans to chat with about their Super Bowl experience. It wasn’t easy. I actually saw more fans of teams not involved in the Super Bowl — particularly Falcons, Steelers, and Saints — than Rams fans.
Crowd noise can be a huge factor in games, especially with nearly 71,000 people in attendance. When fans are loud, it keeps the offense on the field from hearing play calls and limits their ability to communicate and adjust.
There was a marked difference in crowd noise when each team’s defense was on the field as well. Behold the sound when the Rams were facing a third-and-7 and trailing the Patriots 3-0 late in the third quarter.
And this was Rams fans trying to disrupt the Patriots offense on a third-and-4 at the start of the fourth quarter with the score knotted up at 3-3.
When Stephon Gilmore picked off Jared Goff deep in Patriots territory with just over four minutes remaining in the game to effectively turn the tides in New England’s favor, Patriots fans were so loud that I could feel my laptop keys trembling as I tried to type. It was a little more low key when Stephen Gostkowski nailed a 41-yarder to put the game away with just over a minute left to play, but the noise from Pats fans ramped up again as soon as the Rams offense got back on the field.
The Rams never did get much going offensively. Todd Gurley’s lack of involvement was definitely an issue for Los Angeles. He finished the day with 10 carries for 35 yards, while Goff threw for 229 yards, a pick, and no touchdowns.
It wasn’t the sharpest performance from Brady and the Patriots offense, either, but they did just enough to get it done. Brady threw for 262 yards, one pick, and no touchdowns, and the only touchdown came from Sony Michel, who had 94 yards on the ground. Julian Edelman was named Super Bowl MVP after catching 10 of 12 targets for 141 yards.
After the game, Edelman noted the volume of Patriots fans in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
“It was unreal, man,” Edelman said. “I mean, it was like a home game here.”
Of course Patriots fans took one last opportunity to be as loud as possible, during the presentation of the Lombardi Trophy. They’re still salty about Deflategate, and they booed Roger Goodell mercilessly. Those boos quickly turned to cheers when Goodell reminded them that the Patriots are, once again, Super Bowl champions.
The overwhelming disparity in the number of Patriots fans compared to Rams fans probably had less of an overall influence on the outcome of the game than the Patriots’ extensive Super Bowl experience and the Rams’ lack thereof. But Patriots fans were loud as hell, and it did make things much harder for the Rams in this latest New England Super Bowl win.