Patriots Prevail in Lowest Scoring Super Bowl Ever

More stories from Nick Skakal '20

The New England Patriots emerged victorious in the Super Bowl in a hard-fought defensive battle against the Los Angeles Rams. With a score of just 13-3, the game entered the record books as the lowest final score in the history of the big game. Fans who tuned in to watch the teams’ high-powered offenses do battle were disappointed as the defenses held the line for the most part. As Patriots’ kicker Stephen Gostkowski hit the field goal that sealed the game, the Rams could only look back on offensive opportunities they had squandered.

Despite a very strong showing from their defense, the Rams’ offense couldn’t come up with anything. Quarterback Jared Goff looked lost behind what had been a sturdy offensive line all season, completing just 50% of his passes for 229 yards and an ugly interception. Their star running back Todd Gurley didn’t fare much better, taking his ten carries for only 35 yards. The Rams were criticized by many for wasting what was a very strong performance defensively, though credit certainly must be given to the Patriots’ defense as well for shutting down what was usually an offensive powerhouse. Goff and the Rams boast a very young offense, meaning there wasn’t much playoff and Super Bowl experience among the personnel on the unit. It’s certainly debatable how much experience really affects the performance of the players in big games like this, but the Rams’ offense did not look the way it had all season and their inability to put up points and capitalize on their defense’s success was their undoing as the Patriots were eventually able to pull away and score enough points to stay ahead.

As for the Patriots, they once again showed that under Bill Belichick, they are the masters of game planning. I’ve already praised their defense, but their offense was just as prepared for a tough outing against LA’s defense. Rookie running back Sony Michel proved why New England selected him in the first round as he looked unstoppable by the end of the game, tallying 94 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. This helped take the burden off Tom Brady, who had a mostly pedestrian game. For his part, however, Brady made big plays when it mattered most, especially on third down. He and Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman were in sync throughout the game and their connection proved to be hugely important to their offensive strategy. In the end, New England’s game plan played out exactly as they hoped as their offense slowly whittled down the Rams defense and put up the points they needed to win.

Those growing tired of the continued success of the Patriots were not happy to see them win again, but what does it say about the NFL that they won their sixth Super Bowl in nine appearances since the 2000 season? Many have said that it proves just how much the NFL lacks parity among its teams, but I would argue it’s not that simple. There’s certainly a conversation to be had about the difference in talent level between teams at the top and bottom of the standings, but the Patriots have benefited more from consistency and strong coaching more than anything else. New England has built its identity around Tom Brady and put in the pieces they need around him to win. They make savvy roster decisions and foster a culture of success throughout their organization. Other teams fail to do this well, which explains why most teams have success for a few years and fade away while the Patriots have had success for nearly two decades. Teams are often too quick to pull the plug on a coach or GM and don’t make the same calculated and careful roster decisions the Patriots do, going instead for big splash signings and draft picks.

After another Patriots Super Bowl victory, fans of other teams can only hope that their organizations learn from New England’s model to try to get more success out of their franchises, but after all this time, it’s hard to imagine teams picking up on the trend soon. In the meantime, don’t be surprised to see New England at the top of the AFC next season too – I sure won’t be.