New England Patriots’ Stephen Gostkowski (3) attempts a field goal against Los Angeles Rams during the first half of the NFL Super Bowl LIII football game Sunday in Atlanta. Gostkowski missed the field goal. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
It took three-and-a-half quarters, but someone finally scored a touchdown in Super Bowl LIII, with running back Sony Michel running for two yards to give the New England Patriots a 10-3 lead in what was shaping up to be the lowest-scoring NFL championship ever.
Michel’s run capped a drive that featured several pass plays between Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and his favorite receivers, Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski.
The Los Angeles Rams answered the New England Patriots with a long field goal near the end of the third quarter to tie at 3-3 in a defensive struggle on pace to set an all-time record for lowest-scoring game.
Greg Zuerlein connected on a 53-yard field goal with just over two minutes remaining in the third quarter to tie the game.
The Patriots drew first blood on a 42-yard field goal early in the second quarter.
The score, on a kick by Stephen Gostkowski, followed a defensive battle in the first quarter in which the Patriots’ opening drive was short-circuited by a Tom Brady interception and the Rams’ inability to move the ball.
The third quarter ended with the 3-3 tie, the first time no touchdowns had been scored through three quarters in Super Bowl history. The previous longest touchdown drought came in the 1989 Super Bowl between the Bengals and 49ers when the first touchdown was scored with 50 seconds remaining in the third quarter. San Francisco won the game 20-16.
Only Pittsburgh’s 2-0 halftime lead over Minnesota in the 1975 Super Bowl — won by the Steelers, 16-6 had fewer points.
The matchup was on pace to shatter the record of lowest-scoring Super Bowl to date: Super Bowl VII, Miami Dolphins beat Washington Redskins by a score of 14–7 in January 1973, as Sports Illustrated reported.
New England dominated the first half in time of possession, holding the football for 19 minutes, 52 seconds, while Los Angeles had it for 10:08. The Patriots also outgained the Rams in total yardage 195-57.
The teams won their respective conference championship in overtime thrillers on Jan. 20 to make it to Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the NFL’s 53rd Super Bowl. The Patriots beat the Kansas City Chiefs, 37-31; the Rams beat the New Orleans Saints, 26-23. New England entered the game a 2½-point favorite to win the franchise’s sixth Super Bowl against three losses. A half-dozen Lombardi Awards would tie New England with the Pittsburgh Steelers as the only six-time winners in the league’s history.
Tom Brady at quarterback and Coach Bill Belichick prowling the sidelines in his trademark hoodie has been a wildly successful formula this century, but there are questions as to how long the 41-year-old field general can defy father time.
The Rams, whose past two Super trips were representing St. Louis in 2000 and ‘02, have four players who have gotten this far. New England has four on its defensive line alone.
The Rams (15-3) are back in the Super Bowl for the first time since meeting against the Patriots 17 years ago to the day — and for the first time as the “Los Angeles Rams” since 1980, when they fell to the Steelers. The Patriots (13-5) are back for the third straight time — they lost to Philly last year — the fourth in five seasons and the ninth since Belichick got the New England dynasty on track in the 2002 win over St. Louis.
Brady is the oldest quarterback to start a Super Bowl. Goff is 24 and one of the youngest.
Unlike Brady, who was a sixth-round pick in 2000, Goff was the No. 1 overall selection in 2016. Leading up to the draft, there were even comparisons of Goff to Brady for the youngster’s footwork, pocket presence and accuracy.
Just three seasons in, Goff is in his first Super Bowl.
Brady sees some of himself in Goff, and not just the fact that they were California kids who grew up in Bay Area cities — Brady in San Mateo, Goff in Novato — located less than 50 miles away. He knows Goff represents hope for a franchise on the upswing that yearns for success after several subpar seasons.
Goff was only 7 when Brady started his history-making run.
Goff doesn’t recall anything about the first time Brady hoisted the Lombardi Trophy. In fact, his first Super Bowl memory didn’t come until two years later when the Patriots beat the Carolina Panthers.
At 24 years and 112 days old, Goff will be the fourth-youngest quarterback to start a Super Bowl game — and the first millennial. Brady is actually fifth on that list, at 24 years, 184 days old.
The 17-year age gap is the largest between starting quarterbacks in Super Bowl history.
Belichick, at 66, could become the oldest coach to win a Super Bowl. He has worked 41 postseason games, with 30 victories, most among head coaches in NFL history. He’s the only head coach with five Super Bowl rings. Sean McVay is half his age and in his first NFL title game, the youngest Super Bowl head man. Belichick has already coached in more Super Bowls than any other coach (nine going on 10) and already has more wins than any other coach (five with a chance for six).
The Rams will attempt to cap their remarkable two-year turnaround under McVay with their franchise’s first Super Bowl championship in 19 years, just three seasons after returning to L.A. from St. Louis. The Rams had been through 13 consecutive non-winning seasons and hadn’t won a playoff game in 12 years before they hired McVay, who was 30 at the time. The youngest head coach in modern NFL history immediately engineered a seven-game improvement last season.
Today’s game between the Rams and Patriots marks the eighth rematch in Super Bowl history.
Good news for the Patriots: The team that won the previous matchup is 4-3. New England defeated the Rams, then in St. Louis, 20-17 back in 2002.
Pittsburgh and Dallas have met three times. Pittsburgh won the first rematch, a 35-31 thriller in Super Bowl 13. Then, 17 years later, Dallas defeated the Steelers 27-17.
—Redskins 27, Dolphins 17 in Super Bowl 17; a rematch of Miami’s perfection-capping victory in Super Bowl 7.
—Giants 21, Patriots 17 in Super Bowl 46; a rematch of New York’s win, which spoiled New England’s run at an undefeated season, four years earlier.
—Cowboys 30, Bills 13 in Super Bowl 38; a rematch of Dallas’ crushing of the Bills the previous year.
—Eagles 41, Patriots 33 in Super Bowl 52; a rematch of New England’s win in Super Bowl 39.
The Rams’ past two trips to the big game were tight affairs in which they beat Tennessee and lost to New England. In all of the Patriots’ eight previous trips in the Brady-Belichick era, the result was in doubt until the final moments. The largest margin in a Patriots Super Bowl under this regime has been the eight points the Eagles beat them by a year ago.
At the close of Gladys Knight’s rendition of the national anthem, there was a flyover by the Air Force Thunderbirds during the pregame ceremony.
Los Angeles won the coin toss — and started the Super Bowl on defense.
Rams got lucky over the Saints?
Saints fans have been angry since the Jan. 20 NFC championship game and what has now become known as the infamous “no-call.”
NFL officials have acknowledged that flags should have been thrown when a Rams defensive back leveled a Saints receiver with a helmet-to-helmet hit at a crucial point in the final minutes of regulation time. The Rams won the Jan. 20 conference championship in overtime and are set to play the New England Patriots in Sunday’s Super Bowl in Atlanta.
The Saints last went to the big game in the 2010 Super Bowl.
In an interview aired during CBS’ pregame show Sunday, President Trump complained about the Saints’ loss to the Rams in January’s NFC title game, and noted the Saints were victims of a “terrible” call that possibly kept them from the Super Bowl.
Trump says it was a “bad call.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.