In the eight Super Bowls prior to last night in which the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick combination participated, the largest margin of victory for either side, the Pats or the opposition, had been eight points, and that was last season when the Eagles and Nick Foles knocked off New England. So it's somewhat ironic that, for now, the largest margin of victory in a Brady-Belichick Super Bowl will go down as last night's 13-3 win over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII.
It's ironic because it's not only the the lowest scoring Super Bowl involving the Patriots, but the lowest scoring in the 53 year run of the "big game." The historical context, though, is unchanged by the hideousness of last night's bloodbath — Tom Brady has now won more Super Bowls than any other player in league history, surpassing Charles Haley; Bill Belichick ties Curly Lambeau and George Halas for most NFL championships, and the Patriots are now tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers for most Super Bowls won by an NFL franchise.
Last night's game, like all of them, had winners and losers, so let's look back.
4. Under bettors
This was one of those rare Super Bowls where, if you went heavy on UNDER bets — for the half, for the game, on prop bets for offensive players not named Julian Edelman — you were laughing. This game was 0-0 after one quarter, 3-0 well into the third quarter, and saw one of the most potent offenses in the league forced to punt on their first eight possessions. In fact, it's inarguable that punter Johnny Hekker was their team's MVP. As a result, my guess is that the sports books cleaned up on prop bets, as most of the public likes betting OVER and the public comprises a disproportionate amount of the betting public for the season's biggest game.
3. NFL 100 commercial
I had no idea that it's the NFL's 100th season coming up but, after watching this commercial, I'm now very excited for all of the nostalgia pieces (none of which will top this commercial):
Frankly, this ad deserves its own Zapruder treatment in a future post. Great job, NFL, and good job, players, being able to hang in the same room with Roger Goodell long enough to film this.
2. Rob Gronkowski
This was Gronk's roughest year in quite some time, as he battled injuries and an aging football frame to play in 13 games, with just 47 catches. However, he turned it up a notch in the AFC title game, with 6 catches for 79 yards, and he followed that up six catches for (appropriately) 87 yards in the Super Bowl, including two huge second half catches, one of which set up the only touchdown of the game, a diving catch amidst three Ram defenders inside the five yard line. After the game, Gronk was coy about retirement possibilities, but in game, he looked like the old Gronk.
1. Julian Edelman
Edelman was THE story for the Patriots this postseason, notching 26 catches for 388 yards, in becoming the second most prolific postseason receiver in league history, behind only Jerry Rice. That's obviously as much a testament to the team for which he plays as it is to Edelman himself, but on Sunday he was the best player on the field, making catch after huge catch to move the chains. After serving a four game PED suspension to begin the season, Edelman got the best redemption possible — a Super Bowl MVP trophy.
4. The Sean McVay mojo
I'll give McVay credit — after the game, he took the onus of the loss on his shoulders:
McVay admitting he was out coached and didn’t have a good game play calling pic.twitter.com/jwa1IzPGjd— Robert Littal (@BSO) February 4, 2019
Good for McVay. He's a good head coach, who will likely be back in this game sometime down the road. However, after this three point output in the biggest game of the season, can we slow down on these teams hiring "Sean McVay guys" because he might have spit magic saliva on them in a team meeting? Shouldn't Zac Taylor and Matt LaFleur, both McVay assistants within the last two seasons, both hired as head coaches for NFL teams next season, spontaneously combust or something now?
3. Todd Gurley
Gurley's performances in the NFL title game (four rushes, ten yards) and in this Super Bowl (ten rushes, 35 yards) are two of the bigger mysteries of the postseason. He claims he was healthy, but his body language and output would suggest otherwise. The bottom line — if indeed he WAS healthy, then the Rams may have some serious buyer's remorse over the four year, $57 million ($45 million guaranteed) contract that they gave him during this past offseason.
2. Anthem controversy
One of the most fun wagers to place every year is on the total seconds the national anthem lasts. Once posted, the YouTube scouting on prior performances is one of the more underrated parts of Super Bowl prep week. All week long, the number on total time on Gladys Knight's edition of the anthem kept creeping up and up and up. Finally, with game day here, Knight belted out the anthem, and it APPEARED she went over the total, even with the number creeping up all week! However, not so fast, my friends! There was controversy!
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JUST IN: There's controversy over the Gladys Knight national anthem.— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) February 3, 2019
One sportsbook graded the OVER as a win and then took it back.
Apparently, she might have said "BRAVE" twice.
First brave would have made it the UNDER. End of second brave would have made it the OVER.
Hey look, I don't care who wins and who loses on bets like this (unless I am one of the bettors), but I really only have one question — why would someone say the word "brave" twice while singing the anthem?
1. Jared Goff
Easily the biggest loser of the night. Out of all the young quarterbacks (say, three years in the league and under) that are taking over the league — Mahomes, Watson, Wentz, Mayfield, Trubisky — the one to get to the Super Bowl in the shortest period of time is the one that I have the least amount of confidence in to execute consistently in big situations. Goff followed up a win over the Saints in which he made some big throws with this dud of a game on Sunday, capped off by a completely inexcusable pick that killed his team's chances in the fourth quarter. As long as Sean McVay is the head coach in Los Angeles, Goff is probably insulated from epic failure over anything more than a game here and a game there, but it's worth wondering whether he is truly a "can't miss" franchise quarterback, or a guy who's good enough to break your heart. After all, the team won't be able to surround him with all of this talent once they have to actually pay him a big contract.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.