Tom Brady and the New England Patriots clinched an historic sixth Lombardi Trophy as they outlasted the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII with a 13-3 victory that marked the lowest-scoring Super Bowl ever.
With the Rams having shocked the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship game to reach the season-ending showpiece following a campaign in which they piled up 527 points, a high-scoring matchup was expected after the Patriots outgunned the Kansas City Chiefs in an overtime thriller.
Instead what the Mercedes-Benz Stadium crowd were treated to was a defensive struggle in which the Rams were shutout in the first half, punting on eight successive drives before Greg Zuerlein’s third-quarter field goal cancelled out Stephen Gostkowski’s kick on Sunday.
Yet New England’s decisive control of possession finally told in the fourth quarter as Brady led a five-play, 69-yard drive capped off by a two-yard touchdown run from Sony Michel that proved decisive when Rams quarterback Jared Goff was intercepted by Stephon Gilmore.
FINAL: The @Patriots WIN @SuperBowl LIII! #SBLIII (by @Lexus) pic.twitter.com/3S2Vc91dyR
— NFL (@NFL) February 4, 2019
Brady and the Patriots offense ground out the remaining minutes to set up another Gostkowski field goal that made sure their quarterback becomes the first player to win six Super Bowls, with New England tying the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most won by a team in NFL history.
An ominous start to the Patriots’ first drive was halted when Brady attempted his first pass, which was tipped by Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman, who crucially escaped a pass interference penalty in their controversial win over the Saints, and intercepted by Cory Littleton.
The Rams did not take advantage of that turnover, though, and the Patriots then squandered the first scoring opportunity on the next drive as Gostkowski hooked a 46-yard field goal wide left.
New England’s superiority was eventually rewarded in the second quarter as Gostkowski atoned for his earlier error from 42 yards, but there will have been frustration in the Patriots’ locker room after Brady saw a fourth-down pass for Rob Gronkowski broken up, ensuring the only reward for a magnificent defensive first-half performance was a three-point half-time lead.
6 – Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have won six Super Bowls, more than every other #NFL franchise minus one. GOATs. #EverythingWeGot #SuperBowl pic.twitter.com/a4l9PZRBN1
— OptaJerry (@OptaJerry) February 4, 2019
Conspicuous by his absence in the first half, Todd Gurley ripped off a 16-yard run to start the second but a drive that saw Patriots safety Patrick Chung leave the game with an arm injury ended in familiar fashion, the Rams punting for a Super Bowl-record seventh successive time.
The eighth straight punt that soon followed saw Johnny Hekker break the record for the longest in Super Bowl history, but the subsequent Rams drive produced more tangible reason for excitement as Goff led Los Angeles down to the Patriots’ 26-yard line, only to have to settle for a game-tying 53-yard Zuerlein field goal after a third-down sack from Dont’a Hightower.
A hugely questionable holding call on a 13-yard run from Gurley stymied a promising Rams drive, and the Patriots ruthlessly pounced on that let-off.
Julian Edelman won Super Bowl MVP for his 10-catch, 141-yard performance, but it was Gronkowski who Brady hit with a pinpoint 29-yard strike, enabling Michel to dive in a play later.
Gave everything we got and now we got everything.
SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS. pic.twitter.com/yYMv1vK1EX
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) February 4, 2019
The Rams appeared primed to reply in kind but, as he did throughout the game, Goff faltered with pressure in his face and, from the Patriots’ 27-yard line, threw up a duck for Gilmore to pluck out of the air.
New England took three minutes off the clock in a methodical final drive from which Gostkowski put the game beyond doubt, Zuerlein then missing a desperation kick that encapsulated a desperately disappointing return to the grandest stage for the Rams.