TODAY'S PAPER
33° Good Morning
33° Good Morning
SportsFootballSuper Bowl

Super Bowl LIII turns into a defensive struggle for Patriots, Rams

Jason McCourty #30 of the New England Patriots

Jason McCourty #30 of the New England Patriots defends a pass against Josh Reynolds #83 of the Los Angeles Rams in the first half during Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on February 3, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia.  Photo Credit: Getty Images/Jamie Squire

ATLANTA — Raise your hand if you predicted the score at halftime of Super Bowl LIII would be 3-0.

How about 3-3 after three quarters or a 13-3 final?

Put your hand down. You’re lying.

So much for the NFL being an offensive game now. This was the lowest-scoring Super Bowl ever.

Both defenses came to play Sunday, but the Patriots were far better in holding the high-powered Rams out of the end zone to capture the franchise’s sixth Super Bowl title.

Cornerback Stephon Gilmore made sure the Rams, the No. 2 offense in the NFL in the regular season, didn’t score a touchdown. Gilmore intercepted Jared Goff’s underthrown pass intended for Brandin Cooks at the 4-yard line to essentially save the game.

With the Patriots up 10-3, Gilmore picked off Goff with 4:17 left, basically securing the Super Bowl victory.

“It was clutch,” Gilmore said. “I knew he was going to throw it up and I knew I had to make a play. I knew he was going to force it up there. Our defensive line put a lot of great pressure on him and he chucked it up and I was able to make a play.”

Julian Edelman, who caught 10 passes for 141 yards, was named the game’s MVP, but you could make a case that it should have been Gilmore. One play earlier, he helped break up another pass for Cooks that had touchdown written all over it.

“I was able to stay with him and make a great play,” Gilmore said.

The Dolphins had to be happy with what they were seeing from the Patriots’ defense. Miami’s new coach was running it.

Patriots defensive coordinator Brian Flores is set to be introduced as the new coach of the Dolphins on Monday. He had his group playing inspired ball against the team that finished second in the NFL in yards per game (421.1) and points (32.9).

New England had Goff and the offense rattled right from the outset. They mixed up the coverages between zone and man and Goff looked overmatched.

The Rams totaled 57 yards of offense and two first downs in the first half. Goff was 19-for-38 for 229 yards and one interception and was sacked four times.

“It’s hard work,” Gilmore said. “We practice hard. We study. We are a team, so I’m not surprised.”

The Rams had five three-and-outs in their first eight series and didn’t convert on their first seven third downs.

“We didn’t give up big plays, which they’ve been killing everybody with,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said.

The Rams’ drought ended on the third series of the second half as Goff connected with Robert Woods for an 18-yard gain to New England’s 29.

On the next play, Goff had Cooks alone in the end zone, but Jason McCourty got there just as the ball did and knocked it out of Cooks’ hands.

On third down, Goff was sacked by Dont’a Hightower for a 9-yard loss. But the Rams got points on the drive as Greg Zuerlein kicked a 53-yard field goal.

Those were the Rams’ only points.

“Eleven guys, man,” defensive back Devin McCourty said. “There was no guy that did it all. It was 11 guys, all day.”

Comments

We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

New York Sports