Defense dominated Super Bowl LIII last Sunday night, but the New England Patriots were superior across most of three quarters and earned a 13-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The Patriots tied the Pittsburgh Steelers with a sixth Super Bowl title and Tom Brady, who played in his record ninth Super Bowl, surpassed defensive end Charles Haley with his sixth Super Bowl ring.
Johnny Hekker punted nine times for the Rams (15-4) and Ryan Allen booted five punts for the Patriots (14-5).
Tied 3-3, Brady marched the Patriots 69 yards with rookie running back Sony Michel (94 yards on 18 carries) finding the end zone for the sixth time in the playoffs on a two-yard burst with seven minutes left in the game for a 10-3 lead as 70,081 watched in the lowest scoring Super Bowl.
“Finally got a touchdown and the defense played the best game of the year,’’ said Brady, who passed for 262 yards on 21 of 35 with one interception.
On the go-ahead drive, Brady hit tight end Rob Gronkowski with two passes for 47 yards and included a 29-yarder that put the ball at the Rams’ two-yard line.
“He knows to trust in me and throw that ball and I’m going to grab it,’’ said Gronkowski, who had six receptions for 87 yards.
Wide receiver Julian Edelman was selected the Most Valuable Player after catching 10 passes for 141 yards.
Stephen Gostkowski’s 41-yard field goal with 1:12 left capped a 72-yard, nine-play excursion as New England leaped ahead 13-3.
Gostkowski missed a 46-yarder with 5:35 left in the first frame, but canned a 42-yarder with 10:29 showing in the second period for a 3-0 lead.
The Rams, who were seeking their second Vince Lombardi trophy and first in Southern California, had 57 total net yards at the half to 195 for the Patriots, evened it at 3-3 when Greg Zuerlein hit a 53-yarder with 2:11 remaining in the third period as Jared Goff (19 of 38 for 229 yards and one pick) drove Los Angeles 42 yards on 10 plays.
“I think we expected to score a lot more points than that,’’ said Goff. “It sucks that’s the way it worked out, but we’ll use this as a learning experience.’’
Rams second-year Head Coach Sean McVay agreed. “They did a great job. I’m disappointed that I didn’t do a better job of adjusting,’’ he said. “I know there is a handful of decisions that I’m going to wish that I could have back, for sure.’’
The Patriots picked up 407 total yards to 260 for the Rams, 154 rushing yards to 62 and 22 first downs to 14.
Running back Todd Gurley had 35 yards on 10 carries for the Rams and C.J. Anderson delivered 22 yards on seven rushes.
Rick Assad has written about sports for the Pasadena Star-News and Los Angeles Times. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.