To the casual football fan who tunes in to a game once a year to watch commercials, cheer or hiss at musical acts, or watch a video game version of NFL football, there was a lot not to like about this year’s Super Bowl.
For one, the commercials were pretty lame outside of the Bud Light/Game of Thrones tie-in and the NFL’s own featuring some of the greats of today and yesterday playing a playground version of the game in a banquet hall.
And that halftime performance by Maroon 5 and a couple of unknown mumble rappers (that’s an actual term the kids use to describe the incoherent and head scratching version of hip hop that dominates the genre today) was just uncomfortable to sit through.
Then there was the game itself – a contest many have deemed the worst Super Bowl ever.
I can see why some felt that way. The game was expected to be a high scoring affair (the Vegas over/under was 58) but turned out to be a low scoring 13-3 win by the New England Patriots over the Los Angeles Rams.
There just wasn’t a lot of action and in this day and age where our attention spans are nonexistent that just doesn’t work.
Couple that with another Super Bowl Ring for Tom Brady and friends and you have a recipe for a disgruntled television audience.
But while the social media pundits panned it and the Facebook warriors pummeled it, I thought it was a brilliant game of chess between a veteran, old school master strategist, the Patriots Bill Belichick, and the “next big thing” Rams head coach Sean McVay.
Think Rocky versus Tommy Gunn in Rocky V when Gunn shows up outside a bar in Philly and challenges Rocky to a street fight to prove he’s the man after being accused of standing in Rock’s shadow.
The old veteran gives him an old school pummeling and sends him on his way, tail between his legs.
That’s what Belichick did to McVay on Sunday.
So while some saw too many punts and two offenses that looked like they had never been on a field before, I saw a brilliantly crafted defensive performance on both sides of the ball.
You have to give the Rams and their defense a lot of credit for making Brady look pedestrian up until the final quarter. Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has been in the league a long time and he knew exactly what kind of scheme would rattle the G.O.A.T.
He clogged the middle of the offensive line and flustered Brady just about every offensive possession the Patriots had for three and a half quarters and that kept the game as close as it was.
But it was the Patriots defense, a pedestrian group most of the regular season, and how they played out Belichick’s perfectly planned scheme, that really shined.
Consider this: During the regular season the Rams were the second highest scoring team in the NFL during the highest scoring season in NFL history. Los Angeles averaged 32.9 points per game in 2018, according to ESPN, and the Patriots held them to just 9.1 percent of their season average Sunday.
That’s simply amazing and just plain old great defensive football.
For those who disagree and have deemed this the worst Super Bowl ever, I challenge you to argue that any of the following were better.
Unless you were a Chicago Bears fan in 1986, than you certainly couldn’t claim that Super Bowl XX was a good game as the Bears blasted New England 46-10.
The halftime show was something called “Up With People Presents Beats of the Future.”
A couple years later we all sat through the snooze-fest that was Super Bowl XXII, when the Washington Redskins, who found themselves down 10-0 to the Denver Broncos after one quarter, scored 35 points in the second quarter en route to a 42-10 win.
There were only seven points scored after halftime and we had to listen to Dan Dierdorf on commentary.
And who could forget 1990 when the San Francisco 49ers destroyed the Broncos 55-10?
The only people that remember that game are Broncos’ super fan and Mesabi Daily News Sports Editor Jim Romsaas, and the three people who performed at halftime – Pete Fountain, Doug Kershaw and Irma Thomas.
I was going to add Super Bowl XXVII to this list, where the Dallas Cowboys scored 21 points in the fourth quarter to beat the Buffalo Bills 52-17, in a game that wasn’t even as close as the lopsided final score would indicate.
But considering Michael Jackson was the halftime performer and O.J. Simpson did the coin toss, I’ll give this one a B for effort.