Sundays are normally days of relaxation, laziness and desperate homework dashes for students. But not this Sunday; the chips sat right next to the guacamole and the hamburgers cooked on the grill. It was the most anticipated Sunday in February. Do you know why? It was finally time for the Super Bowl! This year’s teams on the grill: the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams.
When the sun started setting in Atlanta, Georgia, the football rose high into the air and then back down into the hands of New England’s Cordarrelle Patterson, who took the opening kickoff 45 yards. The Patriots, in their last 11 Super Bowls, have failed to score a touchdown in the first quarter, but they had a good chance to end that drought after the first drive. Handing the ball off to the Patriots’ running backs Rex Burkhead, James White and Sony Michel, the Patriots carried the ball over half the field before throwing their first pass. What a pass it was--tipped into the air by Chris Hogan and caught by Corey Littleton of the Rams. The Rams ended up punting the ball and through the rest of the first quarter, the ball was tossed back and forth, ending with a score of 0-0. The Patriots go 0-11 on Super Bowl touchdown attempts in the first quarter.
The first quarter proved torturous for the Patriots, with two timeouts used, a missed field goal and almost another interception through the hands of Chris Hogan. The Rams, who only had the ball for three minutes and 13 seconds, were equally unsuccessful. The second quarter was similar to the first, with not much action except for a field goal that was barely made by Stephen Gostkowski and the Patriots and a 14-yard sack by Kyle Van Noy of the Patriots.
After the first half game highlights, the stadium quieted as Maroon 5 took the stage, singing many of their biggest hits during the halftime show. Fire, music, and a lot of screaming replaced the utter silence in the stadium. Mini performances by Astroworld rapper Travis Scott and Outkast rapper Big Boi followed Maroon 5. Many people loved it, but most didn’t. “USA TODAY” reported on the show saying, “Maroon 5 … delivering a dialed-in performance with zero surprises and nothing that could add to the headache the league has already endured. Does that mean it was good? Far from it.”
The final half proved a nail biter for all Patriot and Rams fans. A 53-yard field goal by the Rams tied it up 3-3. As the fourth quarter started, so did the Rams, until they dropped the ball (and their confidence with it) after a recovered fumble. Shortly after, Patriots running back Sony Michel ran the ball in from the two for the first touchdown of the game, set up by a long catch by Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots all-star tight end. The Rams made a desperate attempt to tie it up by throwing it to one of the wide receivers, who ran a Hail Mary route over 40 yards and picked off by the Patriots. That interception led to a quick field goal, which put New England up two scores and left the Rams with about a minute and a half with no timeouts. They drove down the field and gave Greg Zuerlein a field goal opportunity that, but he missed. After two kneels by Tom Brady, the Patriots won 13-3. Tom Brady earned his sixth Super Bowl ring, and Julian Edelman won a well-deserved MVP because of his mobility and ability to catch anything from anywhere on the field.
Super Bowl 53 smashed many records.. Tom Brady broke six records, including most Super Bowl games played in by a single player (9); most Super Bowls won by a single player (6); oldest Super Bowl winning quarterback (Brady is 41 years old); most Super Bowl pass attempts (392); most Super Bowl completions (256; and most Super Bowl passing yards (2838) which is more than the second and third place numbers combined. Patriots coach Bill Belichick also broke some records including the most games (9); most wins (6); and oldest winning coach (66 years old). One of the most peculiar records was broken by the Rams punter, Johnny Hekker, who had the longest punt of 66 yards, which was paired with Julian Edelman’s tied record of most punt returns in a Super Bowl career. Many more records were broken during Super Bowl 53.
My prediction for the winner of the Super Bowl came true, but the way I thought the game would play out was a total bust. The Patriots and the Rams, two of the top-scoring offenses in the league, tanked, and their somewhat weaker defenses clashed hard. Neither team relied heavily on its defense all season, but they were forced to during the final football game of the 2018-19 season. Everyone was ready to see a high action, high scoring game, but instead they got the most suspenseful, low-scoring game in Super Bowl history.
The Patriots experienced a strong season, going 11-5 during the regular season. They placed first in the AFC east and second in the entire AFC behind the Kansas City Chiefs, who they beat in the Conference Championship. The first three weeks proved a rough start against teams like the Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Detroit Lions. They came back and, going into their week 10 bye, were 7-2. They then lost to the Tennessee Titans right off the bye week and then the Miami Dolphins again in week 14, followed by the Steelers in week 15. To earn the bye in the playoffs, they beat the Bills and the Jets to seal up the wildcard round bye. They then beat the Chargers, who had the same record as the Patriots, the Kansas City Chiefs, who were seeded higher than the Patriots, and the Los Angeles Rams, who were the same seed as the Patriots. They overcame many doubters throughout their 2018-2019 season in order to win Super Bowl 53. Congratulations, New England Patriots!