By KALLE SORBO
14 Points. Two Touchdowns. That’s all it would have taken for the Rams to win the Super Bowl this year. The second-highest scoring offense from the 2018 regular season was held to just three points. Instead of seeing the young up-and-comers win their first ring, we saw something incredibly familiar. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick won their sixth ring as the greatest quarterback-coach duo in NFL history.
What we saw last night was a defensive masterpiece. It was viewed by most as an incredibly boring game, and I’m not here to argue otherwise. But the defense was absolutely stout last night. It wasn’t the game anyone thought it would be, or the one anyone wanted, however, It might have been the game we should have expected.
There is an argument to be made that last night was a showdown of the two greatest defensive minds in modern NFL history: Bill Belichick and Wade Phillips. Both teams defenses functioned exactly how we should have expected them to. The Patriots took away the Rams best weapons, and dared them to beat them some other way. They didn’t. On the Rams side of the ball it was a Wade Phillips classic. Bend but don’t break. The Rams held the Patriots to 13 points. The team averaged 30.3 points per game in the postseason. The Rams defense was phenomenal. Holding a team to 14 points should be more than enough to win a game. It would have been one of the defensive performances for the ages if the Patriots hadn’t done even better.
There are a couple of questions that will never go away from this Super Bowl. I’m going to try to answer them the best I can.
Was the defense that good or the offense just that bad?
This is going to be the hardest question to answer about this game. Sunday night made no sense from one perspective. There was no precedent for this. The Rams scored an average of 32.9 points this season. That was the second highest mark, just behind the high flying Chiefs, led by MVP Patrick Mahomes. The Patriots scored well this year as well, averaging 27.3 points-per-game. The Patriots and Rams scored 51 and 60 touchdowns respectively. A Super Bowl where only one touchdown was scored collectively seemed unthinkable. So what happened?
The secondaries played out of their minds. They were lock down from the beginning of the game which didn’t allow either quarterback to ever get into a rhythm. The combined QBR for the game was 19.9, the lowest since the statistic has been recorded. It beat the previous record of 20.0 set in 2015 by Peyton Manning and Cam Newton. What makes me believe the game was more of a strong defensive performance than a weak offensive performance is how far that is from what we have come to expect from Tom Brady and Jared Goff. Jared Goff struggled at moments, especially later in the season, but he had a QBR of 65.9 on the season. The only game where it was even close to that was the infamous Bears game where Goff had a QBR of 12.1. The games are outliers, but show what stout secondaries do to Jared Goff’s play.
Tom Brady had a QBR of 25.8 for the game. I saw people comparing this game to Manning’s last Super Bowl in Denver. What is different is Manning was statistically horrible that whole season getting benched after posting a QBR of 0 in the first half of a game that year. The Super Bowl this year was a statistical outlier for Brady, who had a QBR of 70.5 this year. There might be some signs of aging, but yesterday was an example of Brady succeeding just enough to be able to win the game despite an incredible performance by the Rams defense. All they needed was one game winning drive, and Brady delivered when he needed to.
So, yes the offense was bad, but the numbers show that the defenses really were that good. If you are a fan of defensive led teams, last night should give you a lot of hope, especially after this season. Defense is definitely not dead… especially in the playoffs. The only issue is teams have to be able to score enough points to get there first.
What is going on with Todd Gurley?
Todd Gurley reset the running back market this year when he signed a four-year $57.5 million contract. He looked to be in the MVP race once again in the early season, and then something happened. Gurley missed the last two weeks of the season, and then was a non factor against the Saints and the Patriots. CJ Anderson was a great late season addition, but make no mistake Gurley was the workhorse of this offense all year. So, why in the hell did he only get 10 carries in the Super Bowl. 10 Carries! In the Super Bowl? It just doesn’t add up. They have the reigning Offensive Player of the Year, and they didn’t even give him enough carries to try and get into a rhythm.
Sean McVay once again insisted that Todd Gurley is healthy in his post game press conference. He blamed himself for Gurley’s issues stating that he simply got out coached and didn’t give anybody a chance to get in rhythm for the game.
I don’t buy it. The Rams have been a run first offense since Gurley joined the team. They have seen tremendous success with that formula over the past two years. So why did the team only rush 18 times total in the biggest game of Sean McVay’s career?
The writing is on the wall. I have concluded that for some reason Sean McVay doesn’t trust Gurley right now. I don’t know if he’s not fully healthy, or if he simply isn’t the same player due to a lingering injury we don’t know about. This is a question we may never get the answer to. All we can hope is that Gurley is healthy and back to being himself by the start of next season, because the league is better with a Healthy Gurley, and a competitive team in Los Angeles.
Why were the commercials and the Half Time Show so bad?
I kid but not really. I wasn’t that impressed with any of the entertainment this year, including the game. I love the Bud Light Game of Thrones Commercial, The Washington Post, and the clever Michael Buble Bubly commercial. Other than that I was rather unimpressed. The halftime show was just bad. It needed more Spongebob and less of literally everything else, especially Adam Levine who has become a parody of himself.
Regardless of all of this, the NFL is still the greatest form of entertainment we have in America today, and I’m already counting down the days until next season. Until next season. Thanks for reading.