New England Patriots extend dynasty in lowest scoring Super Bowl ever

Eddie Kerekes, Executive Editor

In the middle of the third quarter of the Super Bowl, announcers Tony Romo and Jim Nantz joked that the highlight of the game was a record-setting 65-yard punt from Los Angeles Rams punter Johnny Hekker. At that point in the game, they were probably right.

With the New England Patriots at the time leading just 3-0 in a game featuring two of the highest scoring offenses in the league, it was the punters who were seeing the most action. Hekker and Patriots punter Ryan Allen combined for 14 punts during the historically low-scoring affair, with Hekker at one point ending eight consecutive Rams drives.

The Patriots eventually won the contest 13-3, capturing their sixth Super Bowl title and third in the last five years. The combined 16 points at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta were the lowest in Super Bowl history, breaking the record of 21 total points set in 1973.

For all six titles dating back to 2002, Head Coach Bill Belichick prowled New England sidelines and quarterback Tom Brady led the Patriots’ offense. Brady’s six Super Bowl victories are the most for any player, and Belichick tied the record for most NFL titles for a head coach.

“I was happy it didn’t come down to the last, last play like it has so many other times,” said Brady in a postgame press conference. “But it feels great to win.”

Brady, a four-time Super Bowl MVP, did not win the honors this year because he finished with just 262 yards and no touchdowns. The honor went to wide receiver Julian Edelman who finished the game with 141 yards on 10 catches and seemed to be on the receiving end of nearly every Brady pass.

Despite Edelman’s big game, the whole Patriots’ defense performed well enough to receive the award. They held the Rams to the lowest point total in Super Bowl history—three, tied with the Miami Dolphins in 1972—and came up big with a key interception late in the fourth quarter.

With the Rams just 27 yards away from the game-tying touchdown and only four minutes to go, Los Angeles quarterback Jared Goff threw deep to Brandin Cooks. But an unblocked Duran Harmon pressured Goff to throw off his back foot and the number one overall pick underthrew Cooks. The pass went right into the hands of cornerback Stephon Gilmore, practically sealing a New England victory.

Goff completed just 50 percent of his passes and barely eclipsed 200 yards for the game. As a team, the Rams rushed for only 62 yards and running back Todd Gurley managed just 35 yards on the ground. The Rams converted just three of their 13 third down attempts, a rate under 25 percent.  

“Our defense [played] incredible,” said Brady. “It’s a team game; we needed everyone out there.”

That defense couldn’t have started the game any better, limiting the Rams to just 47 total yards in the first half. It was the other two facets of the game in which the Patriots struggled. Brady threw an interception on his first pass of the game that ended a drive in deep in Rams territory. On the next drive, kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed a 43-yard field goal attempt. Then, with just over a minute to go in the half, New England failed to convert a fourth down attempt at the end of a relatively successful drive.

With their normally dynamic offense sputtering, the Rams defense kept the team in the game. The team sacked Brady once and forced a fumble but were unable to recover the loose ball. Star defensive tackle Aaron Donald recorded five tackles, including one hit on Brady. Overall, the team knocked him down four times in the game, and he was held without a touchdown first the first time in his nine Super Bowl appearances.

“We’ve been seeing it all through the playoffs, so we knew what to expect,” said Donald after the game. “We just fell short.”

In the defensive struggle, the game’s first, and only, touchdown came in the fourth quarter. The Patriots sustained a solid drive with Brady completing four consecutive passes to get the team into the red zone for the first time. Sony Michel plunged ahead for two yards and the Patriots went up 10-3 and seemingly put the game out of reach.

A Gostowski field goal with just over a minute left in the game put the Rams down two possessions, and a miracle Los Angeles comeback fell short when kicker Greg Zuerlein’s 48-yard attempt fell to the turf wide left with five seconds remaining.  

With the victory, the Patriots’ dynasty continued another year and doesn’t look to be coming to an end any time soon, despite the ages of both Belichick (66) and Brady (41). That might be the only takeaway from this Super Bowl that, as political journalist Dan Rather tweeted, “will be memorable for how forgettable it was.”

Just don’t tell that to the punters.