Though two quarters Sunday, the New England Patriots’ offense failed to do much of anything against the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII.
Except, run a lot of plays that is.
While Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine danced shirtless at halftime, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels gathered his troops and drew the number “44” on the whiteboard, according to NBC’s Peter King.
That was the number of plays the Patriots ran in the first half while notching just three total points.
“That’s got to count for something,” McDaniels said. “That’s gonna pay off in the second half.”
New England’s offense continued to slog through the third quarter and into the fourth where the game remained tied at three with just under 10 minutes to play. That’s when McDaniels made his key adjustment, gathering his offense on the sideline and telling them they were about to do something that wasn’t in the game plan at all — go to their jumbo personnel.
“It was a pretty amazing thing,” tight end Dwayne Allen told King. “Hats off to the Rams. They really knew us. They played us great. But football’s about in-game adjustments. Josh told us on the sideline, ‘We did not practice this at all coming into this game, and I realize that, but this is going off in my head, and it’s something I think we need to do.'”
In order to get the Rams into their base 3-4 defense, McDaniels opted to go with a two-tight end look, along with fullback James Develin, running back Rex Burkhead and eventual Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman.
The results were pristine.
New England drove 69 yards in five plays to take the lead on Sony Michel’s 2-yard touchdown run. The Patriots ran the same play on three consecutive snaps during the drive, with Tom Brady hitting Edelman for 13, Burkhead for 7 and Rob Gronkowski for 29 yards to set up Michel’s scoring scamper.
McDaniels’ prediction that LA would eventually wear down came true on New England’s final, clock-killing drive. Leading by seven and not wanting to give the ball back to the Rams, the Patriots’ offensive line bullied the tired Rams.
On second-and-9, Michel burst over right tackle for 26 yards. Then, two plays later, Burkhead gashed the Rams for 26 more on second-and-7 and the Patriots were in field-goal range with a chance to ice their second Super Bowl title in three seasons. Stephen Gostkowski did just that, banging home a 41-yard field to secure a 13-3 win at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
It wasn’t the prettiest offensive game by any means, but McDaniels’ offense kept chipping away, and his halftime prediction eventually came true as New England wore down the Rams and found the end zone en route to another Super Bowl title.
Thumbnail photo via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports Images