The Rams’ offense promised to be explosive. It was not: 260 total yards; until the fourth quarter just six first downs; a yucky 4.3 yards per play. Instead, it was punter Johnny Hekker who appeared explosive. And the Los Angeles defense was boringly good.
There’s really no way around it: Super Bowl LIII was boring in general. But there were still some weird things going on, with the night just dull enough to be record-setting. So marvel at these 10 numerical oddities that might salvage this Super Bowl’s place in pro football lore.
Play in the red zone. It was Sony Michel’s 2-yard touchdown plunge. The nearest Los Angeles got to the end zone was the New England 26-yard line, but the Rams were sacked on the next play. It was, according to ESPN, the first Super Bowl in which the teams combined for fewer than five plays in the red zone. And they didn’t come close.
In yards, the distance of the longest punt in Super Bowl history. Hekker didn’t seem to get all of this kick, punting from his own end zone in the third quarter. But the ball caught a nice bounce and rolled 27 yards. The kick swung field position and allowed the Rams to get a stop and then drive for a field goal to tie the game. It was one of the game’s most exciting plays.
Punts for Hekker, who deserves this recognition for keeping the Rams in this game. If not for his 417 yards kicking (think about that; he kicked for nearly a quarter of a mile), Brady and the Patriots would have had primo field position on drive after drive. And that’s saying something, because the Rams punted on their first eight possessions of the game, something that had never before happened in a Super Bowl, according to Elias. The nine punts were Hekker’s most since September of 2016.
The number of plays from scrimmage before the first touchdown was scored. Michel cruised into the end zone from 2 yards out with 7 minutes to play. It was the only touchdown of the game and it was a boring touchdown (who likes goal line walk-ins?). But in a game like this, you take points where you can get them. And at least we can admire Brady’s connection to Gronkowski for 29 yards to set up the score. Every other Super Bowl, incidentally, has included at least two touchdowns.
3 for 13
The Rams’ performance on third down. To put it simply, if you can’t convert on third down, you can’t sustain drives and you probably can’t score points. The Rams led the NFL in total first downs this season, and ranked fifth in third-down percentage, converting on 45 percent of their attempts. In the Super Bowl, though, Los Angeles started 0 for 8 on third down. Its longest drive in that stretch lasted five plays. New England was nearly as bad on third down, converting 3 of 12 attempts. But at least the Patriots had drives of 7, 11, 7 and 8 plays in the first half.
Passing yards for Goff in the first half. He completed 5 of 12 attempts through the first two quarters. He finished the game with 229 yards on 19-of-38 passing, but never really settled into a rhythm. The Rams’ last drive of the game padded his stats, too, when he threw for 55 yards on 3-of-5 passing. The possession ended with a missed field goal with 5 seconds to play.
Touchdowns through three quarters, the first time that happened in Super Bowl history. It is, though, the second time it’s happened in an NFL title game. The Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Chicago Cardinals, 7-0, in the 1948 NFL Championship. Playing in a blizzard, Steve Van Buren scored the only touchdown in the fourth quarter. The game lasted a tidy 2 hours 2 minutes.
Rushing yards for Todd Gurley over his final two games of the season: the NFC championship game and the Super Bowl. The Rams’ offensive star, considered an MVP candidate earlier this year, had never rushed for fewer than 60 yards in consecutive games over his four-year career. In 14 regular-season games, he averaged 89 rushing yards and 41 receiving yards despite being slowed by a knee injury late in the year. In the Super Bowl, Gurley carried 10 times for 35 yards and lost a yard on his only reception.
Number of points between the Vegas over-under betting total and the total points scored. (Spoiler; see below.) The Vegas over-under total of 56 was one of the highest in Super Bowl history, but after a 3-0 first half — the second-lowest scoring first half of any Super Bowl — the total was never threatened. It was, according to ESPN, the most a game has finished under the betting total in any NFL game over the past 30 seasons.
Total points scored, in case you can’t add 13 and 3, or feel brain dead after watching that game and banging your noggin against a table. The lowest-scoring Super Bowl before this game was the Miami Dolphins’ 14-7 win over the Washington Redskins in 1973, a veritable shootout compared to Sunday’s game. The Patriots also finished with the fewest points of any Super Bowl winner.
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