NFL / tom brady
SBLIII Recap: Offense wins games, defense wins championships
The dynasty lives on as the New England Patriots shut down the high-octane offense of the Los Angeles Rams en route to a hard-earned 13-3 victory at the Super Bowl LIII last Sunday that saw them hoisting their franchise's sixth Vince Lombardi trophy. New England quarterback and arguably National Football League (NFL)'s greatest player of all time Tom Brady led the Bill Belichick-mentored squad in leveling Pittsburgh Steelers' record six Super Bowl wins in front of the jam-packed Mercedes-Benz Stadium, at Atlanta, Georgia. Brady scored more yards than the overall yardage gained by Los Angeles after completing 21 of his 35 attempts against one interception for 262 yards, despite getting picked off in his opening pass attempt in a Super Bowl for the first time ever. In the lowest scoring Super Bowl match ever, Brady and the Patriots dismantled the Rams' top two offense in the NFL after limiting the latter to a measly 260 yards, highlighted by an uncharacteristic 62-yard output in the running game. Los Angeles' sole highlight of the night came up at the halfway mark of the third quarter when John Hekker tallied the longest punt in Super Bowl history after making a 65-yarder in his eighth punt of the night with one and a half quarters yet to be played. Julian Edelman: The best playoff wide receiver Standout wide receiver Julian Edelman proved to be the lone bright spot in the offensive side of the game from either team after connecting with Brady on 10 catches for 141 yards, enough to grab the Super Bowl MVP award. Playing in his third Super Bowl game since being drafted by the Patriots in the seventh round in 2009, Edelman showed big-time improvements, switching from the quarterback position to being a full-time wide receiver. "It’s hard to (imagine), that’s for sure. "I’m getting to live out a dream so it’s pretty surreal right now. I think everything happens for a reason. I was always taught as a young boy that you always just have to work hard. Work as hard as you can, put in the extra time, and we will see where it goes," Edelman said after the game. After becoming the Patriots' full-time starter six years ago, the former Kent State quarterback averaged 8.8 receptions and 111.4 receiving yards per playoff game, making him as one of the most talented wide receivers in the postseason along with legends Michael Irvin and Jerry Rice. Though still having no All-Pro and Pro-Bowl selections, Edelman had already become a fundamental piece in New England's success as proven by this season when he returned at Week 4, due to a four-game suspension, and helped turn around the things for the then 1-2 Patriots. Like a fine wine, Brady and Belichick continue winning Brady and Belichick, at 41 and 66 years old, respectively, have already reached nine Super Bowls and ended up winning six of it, including last Sunday's victory, making them the most decorated coach-quarterback duo in the NFL history. With the win, Brady and Belichick also became the oldest starting quarterback and head coach to ever win a Super Bowl. "It’s sweet," Belichick, who now ties George Halas and Curly Lambeau with six Super Bowl titles, said after the game. "Everybody counted us out, from the beginning of the season to midseason, but we’re still here." Brady, on the other hand, surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer Charles Haley with the most Super Bowl wins by a starting quarterback. "It probably won't sink in for a very, very long time. I'm just so blessed to play with the best teammates through the years from our '01 team and all the way through now. I love all those guys. That's what makes this special, man. It's a brotherhood. All these relationships are so important in my life, and I can't cherish it enough. It's going to be a celebration tonight," he said. Gronkowski remains to be New England's offensive threat Despite having a roller-coaster season bombarded with injuries, Patriots' tight end Rob Gronkowski stepped up big time in Super Bowl LIII to show the league why he is still the New England's most dominant force in the offensive end. Brady and Gronkowski turned back the clock in the fourth quarter after connecting twice in a magical five-play, 69-yard drive that set up rookie running back Sony Michel's two-yard score for the only touchdown of the night, 10-3 with seven minutes left. Prior to the Super Bowl, Gronkowski, who had six receptions for 87 yards, has been rumored with speculations about his retirement, but the All-Pro tight end was quick to dismiss the issue after their championship. "As of right now, those are the last things I'm thinking off. I love playing the game. After a long season, after the [Super Bowl], a few weeks down the road, you sit back, you relax, you get some downtime, enjoyment time. And you just see where you want to go with it," he said. Los Angeles' spotlight fades in a Hollywood-esque film After starting this season with a perfect 8-0 record, the Rams looked like a team that could win it all as they rolled on to league-best averages of 32.9 points per game as well as a remarkable 421.1 yards per outing. But on Sunday, head coach Sean McVay and his squad could not bring all their offensive weapons from the regular season together as they ended up scoring only three points and having no red zone drives for the whole game. Greg Zuerlein tied the game at 3-all in the third quarter after eight straight Los Angeles punts when he sank a 57-yard field goal, the second longest in Super Bowl history. Running back sensation Todd Gurley also went disappearing in the big stage after only managing to rush for 35 yards off 10 carries while third year quarterback Jared Goff seemed to have been fazed by his first ever Super Bowl game after completing only 19 of his 38 passes for 229 yards and one interception. Former Patriot wide receiver Brandin Cooks was the only positive thing that has ever existed in the Rams' receiving end, but also squandered three potential end zone scores, including what could have been a clutch touchdown in the 4:17 mark of the final period where Stephon Gilmore picked off an erratic throw by Goff to avoid the New England blitz. "That's my fault," Goff said. "I can't put us in that situation. I knew they were bringing cover-zero blitz there, and I tried to hit Brandin (Cooks) on a go-ball, and Gilmore was too far off for me to make that decision. It was a bad decision by me, and I have to do better." Meanwhile, the 33-year old McVay had nothing but praises for Belichick. "Coach Belichick did an outstanding job. There is really no other way to put it. I'm pretty numb right now, but definitely, I got out-coached. I didn't do nearly good enough for our football team. The thing that is so tough about all of this is the finality to it. "Usually, you get a chance -- if you go through some adversity, you can bounce back right away. This one is going to stick with you and it just stings in your gut," he concluded. Follow the writer on Twitter: @KristoffBellen.