(Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)Getty
Super Bowl LIII was supposed to deliver fireworks with the second- (Rams) and fourth-highest-scoring (Patriots) teams in the league. This NFL season was the third-highest-scoring year in nearly a century of pro football. The over/under was a Super Bowl-record 56 points at kickoff.
Instead, the Patriots and the Rams delivered arguably the most boring Super Bowl in recent memory. The 13-3 Patriots’ win was the lowest-scoring Super Bowl ever, replacing Super Bowl VI, when the Miami Dolphins defeated the Washington Redskins, 14-7.
The Pats won, and the Rams lost, but there were more winners and losers from Sunday night’s game. Here are some of the biggest on both ends.
It was far from Brady’s best performance. He threw a bad interception on his first pass of the game and failed to throw a touchdown pass in a game for only the third time in 37 postseason games since 2003. But the win just adds more to his legacy. Brady and the Pats had doubters all season yet are still going home with the Lombardi Trophy for the sixth time since Brady famously entered the league as a sixth-round draft pick in 2000. He’s the first NFL player with six Super Bowl wins. He’s the GOAT.
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)Getty
Belichick became the oldest coach to win a Super Bowl. He devised a game plan that completely shut down a Rams offense that averaged 33 points per game during the regular season. Belichick’s 31 playoff wins are 11 more than second-ranked Tom Landry had. Nine Super Bowls in 18 years, including six wins, is a staggering accomplishment in the free-agency/salary-cap era.
The NFL is built to create parity, but Belichick continues to defy the odds with the Patriots dynasty. He’s won 74% of his regular-season games with the Patriots, and his playoff record is even better. The six wins tie the record of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Like Brady, Belichick is the GOAT.
Romo limited his pre-snap telegraphing of plays, which he did so adeptly during the AFC Championship Game. But he still shone in a game with little offensive action. Romo is in his second year as an analyst for CBS and will be a hot free agent when his contract expires after the 2019 NFL season. Expect the former Cowboys quarterback to get a raise on his $4 million salary.
The wide receiver started the 2018 season serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing-drug policy but finished as the Super Bowl MVP. He racked up 10 catches for 141 yards and was Brady’s target seemingly every time the Patriots needed a first down.
The seventh-round draft pick in 2009 might have punched his ticket to the Hall of Fame with this performance. He’s only the seventh wide receiver to win the Super Bowl MVP. His 499 regular-season catches and 30 touchdowns don’t jump off the page, but he has another 115 playoff catches and 1,400+ yards in the playoffs as part of three Super Bowl-winning teams.
Adam Levine and his bandmates got killed on social media during their halftime performance. That was predictable, from the moment the band was announced as the halftime act. But performing in the Super Bowl halftime show has been good business for musical acts even though they are not paid for the show. My colleague Zack O’Malley Greenburg broke down the boost that halftime performers like Bruno Mars and Justin Timberlake got after their Super Bowl appearances.
The Rams owner is worth $8.5 billion, so “loser” is a relative term, but “Silent” Stan would have loved to have a Super Bowl title in the run-up to the opening of his new $2.6 billion stadium in 2020. It is a formula the Patriots used to open Gillette Stadium in 2002, fresh off a Super Bowl title. The win helped the Pats push up pricing on tickets, suites and sponsorships. The new Los Angeles stadium will host the 2022 Super Bowl, and the Rams will attempt to be the first team to appear in the Big Game in their home stadium.
The third-year quarterback laid an egg on the biggest stage, completing only 50% of his passes and leading the Rams to only 3 points. It was a huge comedown for a team that scored at least 23 points in all but one game this season. The Rams are built to contend for championships over the next few years, and the team’s front office will need to decide if Goff is worth a nine-figure commitment. His rookie deal ends after next season (the Rams can keep Goff in 2020 by picking up his $20 million-plus fifth-year option). A Super Bowl in his back pocket would have made it much easier to commit to Goff for the long term.
Picking on the ads is a post-Super Bowl ritual, but the 2019 crop delivered few memorable spots. We got lots of robots. We learned Bud Light does not have corn syrup, and Bud Light and Game of Thrones had a crossover spot that came out of nowhere. For my money, Verizon’s ad with Los Angeles Chargers coach Anthony Lynn talking about the first responders who saved his life after he was hit by a drunk driver was the most memorable ad. Also loved Stella Artois using “The Dude” and Carrie Bradshaw, as well as the NFL’s 100-year celebration ad.
The NFL’s 2017 Offensive Player of the Year was missing in action for a second straight playoff game. The running back rushed for 35 yards on 10 carries, and his one catch lost a yard. It was a far cry from the regular-season player who racked up more than 1,800 total yards in 14 games. His coach, Sean McVay, insisted Gurley was healthy. The Rams gave Gurley a four-year, $60 million contract extension in August that set records for guaranteed money and per-year average.
The Tiffany Network drew a huge audience for the game, but it could be the first Super Bowl with fewer than 100 million average viewers since 2009 (last year’s audience of 103.4 million was down 6%). Blame a boring game, Patriots fatigue, a New Orleans boycott, the Rams’ small national audience and a buzz-free halftime show. CBS does not offer ratings guarantees for Super Bowls, so the network is not going to be on the hook for any make-good ads, but the game likely delivered a smaller audience for the nearly 10 minutes of network promos, as well as the lead-in audience for the launch of CBS’s The World’s Best, which premiered after the Super Bowl.
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