But, before we get to the game, let’s set the stage, because there were a handful of impact players who were out for this contest. New England was without the services of wide receiver Julian Edelman and running-back Sony Michel, along with starting defensive end Trey Flowers. The Rams, on the other hand, did not have either wide-out Cooper Kupp or starting linebacker Dante Fowler available.
Now, to the game, the 59th and final game of my 2018 NFL Tournament, which may just have been the sloppiest game I’ve rolled in years!
The New England Patriots took the ball first and marched from their own 25 deep into Rams’ territory before Rex Burkhead coughed up the ball to the Rams’ John Johnson at the L.A. 22 yard line – the first of TEN turnovers in this ballgame! But, the Rams could not move the ball and had to punt it back to the Pats.
On their next possession, New England quarterback Tom Brady threw the first of his three interceptions, again with Johnson coming up with the ball. But, on the very next play Rams’ All-Pro halfback Todd Gurley fumbled the ball and New England’s Stephon Gilmore fell on it for yet another turnover!
And, this is how the first half went . . . with neither team being able to mount any real offense. Brady threw another pick, this time in the Red Zone, the Pats’ Chris Hogan fumbled away another ball at the L.A. 35 yard line, and Gilmore picked off an errant Jared Goff pass at the Patriots’ 15 yard line . . . all in a half that ended 3-0 in favor of the Rams.
And, the second half started the same way the first half ended – with Goff throwing another pick, this one to Devin McCourty when the Rams were in New England territory and driving. The Patriots then went on another long march, but, once again, Brady was picked off deep in Rams’ territory. This time it was at the 3-yard line, and, again, by the defensive MVP of the game, Johnson, who returned it 36 yards to the L.A. 39 yard line.
And, this time, the Rams successfully drove the length of the field, with Gurley taking it in for the game’s first touchdown from the Patriots’ 11-yard line with just under 7 minutes remaining in the third quarter! Rams 10, Pats 0.
But, New England finally answered, going 80 yards in 11 plays with Cordarrelle Patterson getting the Patriots on the board with a 6-yard TD run, to cut the Rams’ lead to 10-7.
Then, midway through the 4th quarter period, Goff was picked off for the third time, this time by Kyle Van Noy at the Rams’ 29-yard line. A 26-yard pass from Brady to Hogan, and a 3-yard scoring run by Burkhead gave New England the lead 14-10!
Remarkably, with only 6 minutes left in the game, Goff threw another interception, this on to Jason McCourty, who returned it to midfield. Brady then engineered a 3:45 drive culminating with the game’s offensive MVP, James White, hauling in a short TD pass to give New England a 21-10 lead with only 2:15 left in the game.
But Goff got hot and drove the Rams 75 yards in just 1:15 hitting Gurley on a 37-yard strike to pull L.A. within 5 points. A two-point conversion attempt failed, but the Rams still had life, trailing 21-16.
Now, I do not use the onside kick. Instead, I use the following: Instead of kicking off, the team gets to run one play, as if it is 4th and 15 from their 35-yard line. If they make it, they get to keep the ball, and if they fail, their opponent takes over at that spot.
Well, wouldn’t you know that Goff completes a 24-yard pass to Brandin Cooks! Three Todd Gurley runs for 20 yards, coupled with two completed passes to Gurley and a big one to Robert Woods put the ball at the Patriots’ 4-yard line with only 5 seconds remaining. But, Goff’s pass to Cooks was broken up in the end zone by Gilmore and New England had its championship 21-16!
Seven interceptions, six fumbles (three of which were lost), and 13 penalties!!! Not the prettiest of victories, but congratulations to the New England Patriots for their Super Bowl triumph!