The Patriots’ 13-3 win over the Rams may have been among the least memorable Super Bowls. It was the lowest-scoring title game in NFL history, the first Super Bowl without a touchdown through three quarters, and the first Super Bowl of the nine featuring Tom Brady and Bill Belichick decided by double digits. Still, there are at least a few things you’ll remember from Sunday night. In honor of Brady’s record-setting six Super Bowl rings, here are six of them.
1. The Patriots’ old guys
Three standbys of the Patriots’ dynasty carried the New England offense for much of the night. There was MVP Julian Edelman, who had a game-high 10 catches for a game-high 141 yards, many of them coming on third downs. There was Rob Gronkowski, the oft-injured tight end and subject of so many retirement questions, whose slow-motion 29-yard catch led to the game’s only touchdown and was among the night’s most important plays. (Gronkowski finished with six catches for 87 yards). And, of course, there was Brady, the 41-year old quarterback, who threw for 262 yards and easily outplayed the Rams’ Goff.
2. The Rams’ missed chances
It was a miserable night for the Los Angeles offense, which ranked second in the NFL this season in both yards and points. But a few miserable moments stand out as the most miserable. Wide receiver Brandin Cooks had a chance at two touchdown catches, both of which hit his hands, although both of which would have required remarkable efforts. And Goff had one of his worst throws on the game’s most important drive, getting intercepted on a second-and-10 throw from the Patriots’ 27-yard line with a bit more than four minutes remaining.
3. Johnny Hekker
Yes, a punter. Hekker’s eighth punt of the night was a record-breaker, getting several good bounces and rolling to a stop after 65 yards, which set a Super Bowl record for distance.
After the Patriots pinned the Rams at their own 6-yard line midway through the third quarter, New England figured to get excellent field position. But Hekker’s record-setting boot instead put the Patriots back on their own 29. Hekker punted on the Rams’ first eight possessions.
(In fact, many of the game’s most memorable moments featured kickers, and Stephen Gostkowski’s 41-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter clinched New England’s win. Plus, there were a lot of jokes about soccer during that points-starved first half.)
4. That abysmal first half
Ah yes. You’ll remember it if you can’t convince yourself to forget it, anyhow. If there were first-half stars, their names were Bill Belichick and Wade Phillips, the coaches behind those stifling defenses. The Rams punted six times in the first half, one more than the number of completions quarterback Jared Goff had through 30 minutes. Los Angeles had only two first downs at halftime.
The Patriots had more success moving the ball, but one trip to scoring position ended with a missed field goal, and another with a failed 4th-and-1 attempt.
The Patriots led, 3-0, at halftime, making it the second-lowest scoring first half in Super Bowl history. There wasn’t a single snap inside the red zone.
“If you like offensive football, well, too bad,” as CBS analyst Tony Romo put it.
5. Adam Levine’s shirtless halftime performance
The subject of much speculation and derision coming into the game, the Maroon 5-centered halftime show did not appear to be well received. In fact, the show had some longing for the return of Up With People. Where is Left Shark when you need him?
No entertainer took a knee in support of Colin Kaepernick (the subject of some pregame musing), and the tame show also included tame performances from Big Boi and Travis Scott. At the end, Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine took off his shirt. The move was not universally applauded.
6. The Todd Gurley questions
The NFL’s highest-paid running back was virtually invisible in the first half, finishing the half with three carries for 10 yards. Gurley missed Los Angeles’s last two games of the regular season with a knee issue, but Coach Sean McVay said in the run-up to the game that Gurley was “feeling good” and expected to “play a big role” in the Rams’ game plan.
Instead, C.J. Anderson, who arrived in December, led the Rams in first-half carries with four. The star’s absence became one of the primary discussion topics online, at least for anyone who was alert enough to type.
“Todd Gurley must have the flu, a broken leg, and dengue fever,” read one viral tweet. “The one football player in the history of the sport Sean McVay forgot is Todd Gurley,” read another.
CBS sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson said that the Rams had “nothing to report” about Gurley’s status. He finished with 10 carries for 35 yards.