For the sixth time in 18 years, the New England Patriots are Super Bowl champions. On Sunday, the Patriots defeated the Los Angeles Rams to win the 2019 Super Bowl. With this sixth win, New England ties the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most championships among any franchise.
At the helm of the team for each of these six victories was the Patriots’ star quarterback, Tom Brady, who has won the most titles in NFL history. Prior to kickoff, New England Coach Bill Belichick had already held the most championships of any head coach, with this win further solidifying his spot in the record books.
These records weren’t the only ones set in the 2019 Super Bowl. In a game that pitted two high-powered offenses against each other, the defenses stepped up to steal the show. The score at halftime was 3-0. This is the lowest mark since 1975, when the scoreboard read 2-0 after two quarters. On top of this, the game’s final score of 13-3 was the lowest amount of total points secured in Super Bowl history.
As the scoreboard indicates, the game got off to a slow start. The Patriots’ offense was effective on their first two drives, reaching Rams’ territory both times, but an interception by Rams’ linebacker Dante Fowler Jr. and a missed field goal prevented them from capitalizing on either possession. The Rams also struggled early on, as quarterback Jared Goff missed key throws in the face of heavy pressure from the Patriots’ defensive line. The first quarter left both sides scoreless.
The Patriots were the first team to break the draw. Placekicker Stephen Gostkowski scored a 42-yard field goal five minutes into the second quarter. After this, though, both teams continued to flounder, with each quarterback struggling to find open receivers and move the ball down the field.
Notably insignificant was the Rams’ first team All-Pro running back Todd Gurley, who was held to 10 yards on just three carries in the first half. There has been much speculation that he hasn’t recovered from a late-season knee injury, although the Rams and Gurley himself have insisted otherwise. However, the results of this game seem to give greater credence to those rumors. He finished the game with 10 carries for 35 yards.
The Rams needed Gurley, regardless of the circumstances surrounding his ability to play. Throughout the game, they opted to pass on third and short. In all, the Rams entered the first half without converting a single third down and only 57 yards of total offense.
After an underwhelming halftime show, both teams stumbled into the second half. The first four possessions of the half all ended in punts, with the lone highlight of this sequence coming from Rams punter Johnny Hekker. On his team’s eighth consecutive punt since the game’s beginning — a Super Bowl record — Hekker booted a 65-yard punt: another Super Bowl record. He finished the game with five punts downed within New England’s 20-yard line, giving his team a field position advantage to stay in the game.
On Los Angeles’ next possession, Goff was able to drive the Rams into their opponent’s territory. The team was able to secure its first third-down conversion of the day and almost found the endzone on a Goff pass to wide receiver Brandin Cooks that was broken up at the last second by the Patriots’ Jason McCourty. A nine-yard sack of Goff two plays later forced Los Angeles to settle for a 53-yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein. By the grace of their special teams, the Rams were able to enter the fourth quarter tied with the Patriots 3-3.
After both teams traded punts in the fourth quarter, the Patriots were able to put together the game’s first and only touchdown drive. With two big completions to tight end Rob Gronkowski, Brady led his team to the Rams’ two-yard line, where rookie running back Sony Michel was able to punch it in for the score. Michel, who, like Gurley, is a former first-round pick from the University of Georgia, finished the game with 18 carries for 94 yards to go with his single touchdown.
The Rams got the ball back with seven minutes left, and Goff completed a series of long completions to take them all the way down to the Patriots’ 27-yard line. The young quarterback threw a beautiful pass to Cooks, who was nearing the end zone, but Goff could only watch as the ball slipped right through his receiver’s hands. Facing an overwhelming blitz, Goff heaved up an ill-advised shot to Cooks again, but instead found Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore.
From their own four-yard line, the Patriots put the ball in the hands of Michel and fellow back Rex Burkhead. Both backs easily charged through huge holes created by the Patriots’ offensive line against an exhausted Rams front, and the Patriots drove — eating over three minutes of precious clock along the way and the Rams’ final two timeouts — until Gostkowski narrowly made a 41-yard field goal.
Although the Rams were able to give Zuerlein a chance to make it a one-score game with just eight seconds on the clock, the kicker was unable to convert a 48-yarder, solidifying a Patriots victory. Red and blue confetti fell from the rafters of Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz stadium as Brady, Belichick and Patriots owner Robert Kraft hoisted their sixth Lombardi Trophy.
Even before this win, the New England Patriots were an unquestionable dynasty. Their victory in the 2019 Super Bowl solidifies their position as one of the greatest dynasties that the NFL has ever seen. For comparison, the Joe Montana-led San Francisco 49ers in the 1980s and early 1990s appeared in five Super Bowls and came away with five rings. Although there has been speculation for years that the Brady-Belichick years were beginning to wind down, this win shows that they’re certainly not over yet.
Despite this setback, it’s clear the Rams have a bright future ahead of them. Their head coach, Sean McVay, is the youngest coach to lead a team to a Super Bowl at just 33 years old. The struggles of his usually high-flying offense do not diminish the fact that he’s one of the game’s best at this time. With young stars like Goff, Gurley and reigning two-time Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald all signed for at least one more season, this Super Bowl appearance seems like the first of many chances for this Rams team to leave its mark on the league.
The game’s MVP was Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman, a former seventh-round pick who actually played college ball against McVay. Although he was held without a touchdown, Edelman hauled in 10 catches on 12 targets for 141 yards. A reliable outlet for Brady throughout the season, he gashed the Rams consistently and especially in key third-down and long yard situations. Gronkowski also contributed six catches on seven targets for 87 yards.
Brady, who finished 21/35 with 262 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception, certainly didn’t put together his best Super Bowl performance. However, he does become the oldest quarterback to win a Super Bowl, and his legacy is hardly in question. He’ll be a first-ballot Hall of Fame candidate as soon as he retires, but it doesn’t look like he’s planning on stepping away any time soon. Belichick is the same; he didn’t need another championship to make his case as one of the all-time coaching greats, but this certainly helps the case that he’s the best to ever do it.
To the joy of some and the disappointment of many, another NFL season has passed with another Lombardi Trophy going to the New England Patriots. This Super Bowl match certainly won’t be remembered as the most exciting game. After a season defined by scoring and what was perhaps the most entertaining conference championship round ever played, the season’s finale lacked excitement and quality of play. This Super Bowl, however, will most definitely go down in history for the number of records, both good and bad, that were set over its course, and for its role as another extension of the Patriots’ dominance of the league over the course of the 2000s. The NFL will return in a little over seven months, when the regular season kicks off Sept. 5.