Defending Super Bowl LIII

I took a straw poll in the bar Saturday night, the night before the big game.  I asked about 30 different customers to pick what they felt would be the final score of Super Bowl LIII.  Of course, predicting such a score on the button is a virtual impossibility but the point is that not a single one of them came close.

Not by a smidge.

With all the hoopla surrounding Super Bowl LIII, not a soul thought it would turn into a defensive struggle, however, in retrospect, predicting such an outcome wasn’t as farfetched as everyone imagined.

Las Vegas listed the game’s over/under at 56 ½.  That means they expected both teams to combine to score that many points.  The smart money, or so they called it, was on the over.  That smart money was grossly misplaced.

For the better part of this game, nary a touchdown was scored.  It wasn’t until midway through the fourth quarter that Patriots running back Sony Michel finally carried the ball into the end zone, giving the game its first – and only – score that wasn’t a field goal.

Throughout the game and well after it, social media was replete with posts about how horrible the game was and that it was far too low scoring.  My friends on the multiple SportsChump text lines agreed.  Goff couldn’t complete a pass, the Rams couldn’t convert a third down and the great Tom Brady was playing very ungoatlike.

Well, allow me to retort.

Many people refer to the 1991 World Series between the Braves and Twins as the greatest of the modern era.  This series went seven games and the final scores were 5-2, 3-2, 5-4, 3-2, 4-3 and 1-0.  There was one high-scoring game in the bunch that ended 14-5 but that was the anomaly of that series.  That seven-game stretch was characterized by great pitching, timely hitting, solid defense and very little scoring.

Super Bowl LIII hardly saw great quarterbacking play; yards were at a premium.  Jared Goff held on to the ball far too long and played as one would expect a young quarterback to play in his first ever Super Bowl.  Todd Gurley wasn’t any better.  The Rams’ normally high-powered offense was anemic.  They punted on their first eight possessions.  Goff’s counterpart wasn’t burning up the stat sheet either.  Brady went 21-35 for 262 yards.  It was just enough to win the game.

The final score of Super Bowl LIII was 13-3.

Countless viewers called it a snooze-fest, readily labeling it the worst Super Bowl ever but that’s because everyone was expecting a shootout.  Here’s a juicy tidbit for you.  Of the thirty people I polled, the closest anyone came to correctly predicting the score was 17-14 and they had the Rams winning.  No one could have ever foreseen a 13-3 final, not from two of the league’s top-five offenses, not when both teams were supposed to score a combined 40 points more than they did.

That doesn’t make this a bad game.  In my mind, it makes it a great one.

Have we fallen so in love with 38-35 finals that we can’t enjoy a defensive struggle?  Don’t get me wrong.  I was glued to the set when the Rams played both the Chiefs and the Saints earlier this season.  Those games finished 54-51 and 45-35.  But I’m also perfectly okay with seeing plays being made on the defensive end.  There were some bruising tackles made on Sunday and very few that were missed.  I’m pretty sure the ’86 Bears and 2000 Ravens weren’t complaining about the quality of play on Sunday.

With all the talk about the GOAT on one end and the high-falutin’ Rams on the other, we ignored how good these two defenses are.  The Rams defensive game plan was so good, they kept the greatest of all quarterbacks guessing all night long.  And the Patriots defense?  All they did was hold the second-highest scoring team in the NFL and the hottest young offensive mind in the game to only three points.  That’s the evil genius up to his old tricks.  And my kind of ballgame.

Just because it was the lowest scoring Super Bowl in history doesn’t make it any less entertaining.  Big plays were at a minimum making them all that more enjoyable when they happened.  Isn’t that better than seeing shoddy defense and a touchdown scored on every other play?

The fact that no team could muster a touchdown in the first three quarters only escalated the tension.  Furthermore, the fact that either team could score at any moment kept us watching.  That it only happened once made it no less of a ball game.

Football games are won and lost in the trenches.  If nothing else, Super Bowl LIII was a throwback, a testament to old school football and a pleasant change, at least in my eyes, from the non-stop scoring we’ve become so accustomed to seeing.

You’ll hear plenty of people talking the next couple of days about how bad that game was.  You might even agree but if you want a bad Super Bowl, look no further than five years ago, Super Bowl XLVIII when the Seahawks dismantled an aging Peyton Manning and his Broncos by a score of 43-8.  That game was over within the first few minutes.  How quickly we forget.  At least this one we didn’t turn off.

You might be in the lot who wants to forget Super Bowl LIII and that’s perfectly okay.  History, however, will ultimately dictate how this game is remembered.  Don’t be surprised if it turns out to be a watershed moment for the sport, the end of one era and the beginning of another.  I recommend you enjoy Super Bowl LIII for what it actually was.  A hard-fought, bruiser of a football game whose true meaning we might not yet appreciate.

12 thoughts on “Defending Super Bowl LIII

  1. I couldn’t have said it better Chump. I absolutely love a good defensive game. While I will have to live with the outcome, I surmised two things during and after the game. First, the rule changes suck. In the first period, the RAMS defensive back made a tremendous hit on a receiver and got called for hitting a defenseless player. The ensuing commentary called on the ref in New York for clarity to which he replied the new rule says you have to allow the receiver a chance to step into a running motion…like give him a first step. As a former defensive back, why would I, or anyone else, want to give a receiver, or anyone else, a chance to run? If you know your going to get hit, defend yourself and don’t catch the ball. If you do, expect to get hit. That cost the Rams yardage and an auto 1st.
    Second, I think young Sean just got out coached! There were plays that the Rams ran where the primary receivers were covered, but second and third options were wide open. Our savvy commentators, saw many of those plays and suggested they couldn’t run that same play again just to find out that the Pats did just that, which put them into scoring position. They even went semi hysterical calling it out each time as the same play 3 successive times!
    Bottom line, whether we like it or not, is history was made and the Pats are on the receiving end of yet another title. Hopefully, the RAMS, with all their talent, have learned enough to get back to that oh so hard place to get to, (the Superbowl), unless your a Patriot!

    Go RAIDERS 🙂

  2. Rams should be back, G, although I don’t know the contract status of that defense. I’m not too sure they’ll be able to keep Fowler, Suh, Donald and the like.

    Which is a shame ’cause they’re nice! I mean, 13 points from the Pats? Kept Brady out of the end zone? Damn impressive.

    I wonder if today’s America could handle a Knicks-Bull series like we saw back in the day. Those games were BRUISING and with the games greatest scorer (no offense, Wilt), those final scores were like 83-79. Have you seen NBA final scores today? Nowhere close.

    We’ve become enamored with scoring. But you can’t tell me there wasn’t execution on that field yesterday. I thoroughly enjoyed that ball game. And the hits, oh my!

    Soon enough we’ll have the Chiefs in the big game and they’ll put up 42 and America will be happy. Over/unders will be in the 70s. And defense will be an afterthought.

  3. Belichick is the chess master. Better luck next time Kid McVay.
    I agree, it was a good game. If not for a great defensive play to break up a sure TD in the end zone and a lucky drop by Cooks, it may have been a different story…. But it wasn’t. The two GOATs prevailed because they do what’s necessary, when it’s necessary. That pass to Gronk that led to the TD was fucking beautiful. And Edelman is a flat out beast.

    Greatness is as greatness does.

  4. Tough Jew that Edelman.

    So let me ask you this, Bleed. Do you think L.A. sports fans are more upset about the blocked Chris Paul trade or the Super Bowl loss?

    Sorry to bring up that old shit but all this talk about people wanting to block the Anthony Davis trade for collusion stirred this all up.

    I do think if that happens, you may blow up the commissioner’s office. You may want to establish an alibi.

  5. Preach on brother! I mentioned in an earlier post that I would watch – excellence is fun to watch no matter what form it takes in a game.

  6. The Pelicans are turning down our entire young core plus draft picks? Nothing more we can do at this point. Good luck getting a better return.

    I pray that David Stern gets butt raped by someone with flesh eating bacteria.

    That fucking veto set the Lakers back a decade. Unprecedented thwart of the leagues premiere franchise that still affects us to this day. Actually, the one who got cheated most was Chris Paul. When he retires ringless and looks back on his Hall of Fame career, he’ll regret not following through with his lawsuit to get to the Lakers. Instead, he accepted going to the Clippers. How’d that work out for him? I guarantee if that trade had gone through, he’d have at least one ring by now, maybe two, three or more. We’ll never know.

    As far as the Rams, I’ve never rooted for them so I’m the wrong one to ask. I pulled for the Pats. Unfortunately, after the World Series, I think LA might be getting used to Boston kicking our asses.

  7. Thank you so much for this post! I loved this Super Bowl. Being a life long patriots fan, I may be a little biased. But, the people that are saying this is the worst Super Bowl ever, know nothing about football. Even towards the end of the game, the Rams still had an outside chance. Are these people telling me that this was worse than the 55-10 blowout of the 49ers over the Broncos?! Wow, what a nail-biter!! Or the Cowboys trouncing the Bills 52-17 in 1993? Or the 5 blowouts in the ’80s. Maybe everybody’s just mad that the Patriots won, yet again.
    I was expecting a high scoring game after the Patriots defense fell apart in the second half against the Chiefs. This was a pleasant surprise. As much as everyone hates the Patriots, every Brady era Super Bowl they have been in, was anybody’s game going into the final minutes, if not seconds.
    Now, if these people want to talk about the most boring things, let’s talk about that halftime show this year…

  8. Moose…

    In a 45-35 contest, these very same people would have been bitching about the lack of defense.

    Can’t please all of the people all of the time.

    Heck, I’m just hoping we can please some of them.

  9. Paul…

    Thanks for chiming in and welcome to the fracas.

    It wasn’t just a few people that were complaining that the game was boring. I mean, how many people did you hear say it sucked? I don’t get it.

    Because they couldn’t move the ball? Isn’t it the objective of one team to stop the other?

    Again, this is why there are rule changes. Because fans demand it. Don’t think these leagues don’t look at metrics and what people like before adapting these rules.

    Scoring is up atrociously in the NBA to the point that it’s comical. Travels aren’t called, whistles are blown routinely and there are no more game-stoppers (Carmelo Anthony not included, lol).

    Same goes with the NFL. Rules are changing to encourage higher-scoring.

    I was perfectly fine with the game. In fact, I’ll remember it fondly and argue with anyone who thinks otherwise… which requires a lot of arguing these days considering everyone thought is sucked.

    Damn automatons!

  10. Di’Antoni not only graces every cannister of Pringles, he ushered in the 3 point era we are currently living in back with the Nash/Stoudamire/Marion PHX Suns 7 seconds or less offense.

    While he hasn’t won anything, he was the first to exploit the analytics of taking more 3’s, leading to what were seeing in the NBA right now.

    His style was a horrible fit for the Lakers with the personal we had at the time he was here, but the Suns had a great run during his tenure and keep in mind the Rockets were a CP3 hamstring away from dethroning the Warriors last year. Dude has his place….It ain’t amongst the greats, but he has certainly had a profound impact on the NBA game IMO.

  11. Bleed…

    I loved those Suns teams, fun to watch. Amare doesn’t get off that bench and incurs a suspension, it’s possible they make the Finals.

    But it’s just that. There always seems to be something that keeps D’Antoni out of the promised land.

    I’m not saying he’s a bad coach. I’m just saying I’m not sure he has what it takes to win the Finals. Can you say without certainty that he could take this Golden State team to an NBA Finals and win it? And this is a team that could probably win it WITHOUT a coach. I just think D’Antoni would somehow find a way to fuck things up.

    To me, he’d be a great offensive coordinator. Not so sure I trust him with a team I’ve built to win it all.

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