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A Recap of the Record-Breaking Super Bowl LIII

February 12, 2019

Its hard to believe that Super Bowl LIII is already a memory.

The New England Patriots re-established themselves as the dominant force of the NFL, shutting down the debate as to whether the youthful Los Angeles Rams could pull off the upset.

It also seems to be a consensus that Super Bowl LIII was the most uneventful (and perhaps most boring) Super Bowl seen in recent years.

Nevertheless, it was a fulfilling conclusion for the Patriots somewhat shaky season. It also has served as a reminder to all that the greatest coach/QB combo in NFL history still has a good deal of mileage left in them.

With that said, were going to take a brief look at how Super Bowl LIII unfolded.

Super Bowl LIII From Start to Finish

First Half Timeline

  • The Patriots receive the first possession with Cordarelle Patterson returning the opening kickoff 38 yards to the Patriots 39-yard line. They gain 27 yards in their next five plays.
  • Tom Brady makes his first attempt, but Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman deflects the ball out of linebacker Cory Littletons hands.
  • After a punt, the Patriots drive 45 yards in 11 plays, one of which comes from tight end Rob Gronkowski who makes a 19-yard catch.
  • The Patriots make a field goal attempt, but kicker Stephen Gostkowski misses a 46-yard kick.
  • The Patriots return with a promising shot at completing a touchdown when Tom Brady completes a 25-yard pass to wide receiver Julian Edelman at the Rams 45-yard line.
  • However, Brady is sacked by Rams defensive end John Franklin-Myers and fumbles the ball.
  • Center Dave Andrews recovers the fumble, but the Patriots only advance to the Rams 40-yard line on the 4th down. Their only option is to punt with just 18 seconds left in the first quarter.
  • The Patriots force another three-and-out, driving 39 yards in seven plays. The majority comes from a 25-yard completion made by Tom Brady to Julian Edelman.
  • Gostkowski finishes the possession with a successful 42-yard field goal, giving the Patriots a 3-0 lead over the Rams with 10:29 left in the second quarter.
  • After three drives, the Patriots regain possession of the ball and drive 36 yards to the Rams 32-yard line.
  • On a 4th-and-1 conversion attempt, Brady throws an incomplete pass with just 1:16 remaining on the clock.
  • The half ends with the Patriots leading the Rams 3-0.  

Second Half Timeline

  • The beginning of the second half is marked by defensive-dominant play, with both teams punting twice.
  • With 6:33 left in the third quarter, the Rams open their first drive of more than five plays that dont end with a punt, moving the ball 42 yards (in 10 plays).
  • On the third play of that drive, Rams quarterback Jared Goff completes a 15-yard pass to Brandin Cooks, and then later makes his first-third down conversion with an 18-yard pass to Robert Woods on a 3rd-and-6.
  • On the 3rd-and-7, Jared Goff is sacked on the Patriots 26-yard-line by Donta Hightower. However, Greg Zuerlein connects on a 53-yard field goal tying the game at 3-3 with 2:11 remaining the third quarter.
  • The Patriots regain possession of the ball and drive to the Rams 44-yard line. But the Rams halt them and punt as the first play of the first quarter - both teams still have not scored a touchdown.
  • The Patriots, after forcing the Rams to punt, launch the longest drive of the game. Brady completes an 18-yard pass to Gronkowski, a 13-yard pass to Edelman, a 7-yard pass to running back Rex Burkhead, and then another 29-yard pass to Gronkowski. They now stand at the Rams 2-yard line.
  • Following the drive, Sony Michel pushes through the Rams defense with a touchdown run (and the first touchdown of the game).
  • Gostkowski follows with the extra point, giving the Patriots a 10-3 lead over the Rams with just seven minutes left in regulation.  
  • Jared Goff then completes a 19-yard pass to Brandin Cook on the Rams next drive. He follows up with a conversion on a 3rd-and-9 with an 11-yard throw to Josh Reynolds.
  • On the following play, Goff makes a 17-yard completion to Woods which moves the ball to the Patriots 27-yard line. But Goff throws a pass that is intercepted by cornerback Stephon Gilmore on the 3-yard line.
  • The Rams are suddenly given just two options - they either have to punt or turnover.
  • Michel then pushes through the line for a 26-yard run.
  • Rex Burkhead picks up 10 more yards with his next two carries and then pulls off a 26-yard run to give the Patriots a first down at the Rams 33-yard line.
  • Three plays later, Gostkowski makes a 41-yard field goal attempt - and succeeds - giving the Patriots a 13-3 lead with just 1:12 seconds remaining in the game.
  • As a last-ditch effort, Jared Goff completes a 10-yard pass to Woods, and then 24 and 21-yard completions to Brandin Cooks to move the ball to the Patriots 30-yard line. With only eight seconds left, the Rams decide to kick a field goal but Greg Zuerlein missed wide left, and the Patriots run the clock out for the win.

Brady finished with 262 yards, completing 21 of 35 passes and one interception. He connected most with Edelman, who made off with 10 receptions and 141 yards. Gronkowski caught six passes for 87 yards while Michel finished as the games top rusher with 94 yards and a touchdown. Julian Edelman was named Super Bowl LIIIs Most Valuable Player.

Looking at the Rams performance, Goff finished with 19 for 38 passes for 229 yards and one interception. Brandin Cooks was his top receiver, making eight receptions for 120 yards. Littleton finished with 10 tackles and one interception. Hekker punted nine times for 417 yards, an average of 46.3 yards per punt and put up five punts inside the 20.

Super Bowl LIII - A Halftime With Little to Show

Well before Super Bowl LIIIs halftime show, it had already attracted major attention for its social controversies. The Colin Kaepernick debacle - the #TakeAKnee movement to protest against police brutality - was (and still is) at the center of it all. Colin Kaepernick has turned to an enigmatic figure in the NFL, and an unsigned free agent who hasnt played for the San Francisco 49ers since 2016.

His activism sparked a national conversation about the treatment of minorities by law enforcement in America. It also drew criticism from the likes of Donald Trump who believed that players like Kaepernick should be fired for kneeling during the national anthem.

Kaepernick filed a grievance against the NFL in November 2017, accusing them that the league was colluding to keep him off the field. His dismissal inspired many artists of color to reject halftime performance invitations. They include Rihanna, Cardi B, and Jay-Z among others. Kaepernick has expressed his thanks and support for these artists (most noticeably Rihanna).

Political controversy aside, the Super Bowl LIII halftime show was a spectacle in the sense that it wasnt. At least thats what the internet has said.

Maroon 5 headlined the show performing a brief medley of their recent hits as well as songs from their early catalog. They were also joined by rappers Travis Scott and Big Boi. Travis performed his chart-topping hit Sicko Mode (without Drake) and Big Boi, his classic Outkast hit, The Way You Move.

Based on the reviews of the halftime show, it seemed as if Big Bois fur coat and a shirtless Adam Levine got more attention than their actual performances.

The Broken Records

To say history was made is probably an age-old cliche at this point, but Super Bowl LIII certainly made history in a few areas. They include many performance and player records that were broken along with historical firsts set by both teams.

Records Set at Super Bowl LIII    

  1. A New Low - It comes as no surprise by now, but Super Bowl LIII was the lowest scoring game in Super Bowl history with a score of just 13-3. Naturally, this has translated to many other scoring lows including the fewest touchdowns, fewest points for the winning team, fewest kickoff returns, and more.
  1. Ageing Like Wine - Tom Brady became the oldest starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl at age 41, while Bill Belichick became the oldest head coach to win a  Super Bowl at age 66.
  1. Total Domination - Tom Brady has won more Super Bowls than any other player with six championships under his belt. Likewise, Bill Belichick has won more Super Bowls than any other head coach with six championships to his name.
  1. Frequent Fliers - Tom Brady has made more Super Bowl appearances than any other player, while Bill Belichick has made more Super Bowl appearances than any other coach. They both have made it to the Super Bowl nine times.
  1. Bradys Bunch - Tom Brady extended his record-breaking streak by reaching the following milestones: Most career passes (392), most career completions (256), and most career passing yards (2,838).
  1. Congrats to the Pats - Not only for their win but for their 11th Super Bowl appearance - the most ever made by a single team.
  1. Going the Distance - Johnny Hekker of the Los Angeles Rams put up the longest punt in Super Bowl history with a 65-yarder.

Super Bowl LIII Viewership

Super Bowl LIII garnered a new record-low in terms of viewership as well. The championship game was considered a disappointment in terms of TV ratings. It only attracted 98.2 million viewers, the lowest Super Bowl T.V. audience since the 2008 championship where the Patriots faced the New York Giants.

Truthfully, Super Bowl viewership has been slipping for a few years now, especially since digital technology has changed the way people watch the big game. More people are streaming it on their computers or set-top boxes, a trend that would naturally pull viewers away from watching the game on their TVs.

Nevertheless, the was a decent albeit short lineup of commercials this year that seemed to please fans.

Super Bowl LIII - Anticlimactic?

Was this a disappointing Super Bowl? It is a matter of perspective.

The fans who wanted a high-octane, explosive finish to an otherwise exciting season, were most likely bored with the overly-defensive play of both teams. The music fans who wanted a blazing halftime show chock-full of memorable performances probably yawned in response to its conclusion. And the poor folk running million-dollar ad campaigns were most likely underwhelmed when nights of hard work was seen by the smallest TV audience in a decade.  

However, Patriots fans can at least celebrate another win and gloat for the rest of week (or weeks to come) about the greatness of New England.

After all, the team has demonstrated again why they are the most hated and most feared team in the NFL.  

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