It was abundantly clear when watching Super Bowl LIII that the New England Patriots were a more confident group than the Los Angeles Rams.
Tuesday night’s episode of “Inside the NFL” certainly reinforced that notion.
That doesn’t mean the Rams lacked confidence and/or skill — that the Patriots only won 13-3 indicates as much.
But in a game so close, confidence and will power can make the ultimate difference, and that’s where New England truly blew out Los Angeles. The Patriots appeared unfazed by the shockingly low score, convinced beyond doubt they would end up on top. By contrast, the Rams seemed relieved the game was so close and hopeful — rather than certain — they would break through.
Let’s run through some of the more memorable quotes from the final “Inside the NFL” episode of the 2018 NFL season:
(Note: We’re mostly going to dump these quotes in and address them later, but we’ll add a thought or two when appropriate.)
Rams head coach Sean McVay, before kickoff: “This is going to be fun.”
— Not to sound like worshipers of all-things Bill Belichick, but you shouldn’t be worried about “fun” just before kickoff.
Tom Brady to James White, during warmups: “Our kinda night, huh?”
Pregame exchange between Belichick and McVay:
McVay: So much respect for you.
Belichick: Likewise, you’ve done a great job. OK.
McVay: So great — you always do though. You always do — you know, you’re the best, man. So.
Belichick: (Expletive), you’re taking over, buddy.
McVay: No, no, hey — the way that you guys are able to shift your identity and really still be able to figure it out, I mean, week in and week out, it’s unbelievable.
McVay: Really, so much respect for you and the way you do it, man. You’re what’s right about coaching.
Belichick: Thank you.
McVay: Preciate you, coach.
— The transcript makes Belichick seem colder than he really was, but still, drooling all over your opponent before the game starts doesn’t seem like the best approach.
McVay, before kickoff: “I just can’t wait to see what their plan is.”
Belichick during first quarter: “Josh (McDaniels), where’s McVay? I can’t find him … The plus-40 — OK, I got him.”
— Similar to how he zeroed in on Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll at the end of Super Bowl XLIX, Belichick is focused on getting tells from his opponent, rather than being buried in a play sheet.
Brady, on first drive after throwing interception: “I ain’t makin’ another mistake tonight, boys.”
Edelman, during first-quarter drive: “Hey, they’re tired, boys. They’re tired. Let’s go.”
Belichick to defense, during first half: “Look, they got us outnumbered, but we’re getting pressure. Just get vertical — now he almost threw an interception on this last one — but we got too many guys in coverage. Just get vertical … we’re getting a good push.”
— Essentially saying, “We’re doing exactly what we want, Jared Goff is going to screw up eventually.”
McVay to team during halftime: “Hey, we got one half right now, man. You guys should feel real good about where we’re at. Because hey, this is all you can ask for, man. Down three, we get the ball coming out, defense doing a great job. You guys all good? You believe it, man? All right, me too.
— McVay and his team sound woefully unsure of themselves.
McVay to offense, before start of third quarter: “This is what’s beautiful about what we got going: Defense is playing really well, we just take a deep breath, do what we always talk about, we don’t need to make anything up. … It starts with me, we get efficient runs, then we get into some tempo. … If we do that, we know how quickly we can flip the switch on people. … Starting over, let’s go.”
McVay to Goff, before third quarter: “Hey nice and easy, one play at a time, man. It’s just like we haven’t played a snap yet. That’s the mindset we take.”
— Except you’ve played a bunch of offensive snaps already, and you got your asses kicked on nearly all of them.
Goff to his receivers, after Rams tied game with a field goal: “Don’t get frustrated now, alright?”
Belichick to defense, after Rams tied game: “We’ve gotta get back on the line of scrimmage, get the call, get lined up. We missed a double, we missed a post. OK, we just gotta get it communicated, and play faster. We have no problems with anything if we can just get it lined up right and do it. … Look, (Robert) Woods made a good catch, he’s gonna make one. We’re OK.
Edelman to Brady, before touchdown-scoring drive: “Let’s go now, let’s get one. We got to. We have to.”
Edelman to Rob Gronkowski, before start of drive: “Hey Gronk, I need you.”
Edelman to Patriots defense, after drive: “Hey! Get the ball back!”
Edelman to Brady: “Let’s keep it going. They can’t cover me.”
Belichick to defensive assistants Brian Flores and Brendan Daly: “Look, we got about maybe 15 calls left in this game. Let’s go through and get them right. Let’s know what we’re gonna call here, Make sure we have the right personnel in the game, know what we’re doing.”
Belichick to defense: “We don’t have much left here, now. We gotta get it right. Let’s make sure we’re straight on the doubles, straight on the calls. They really can’t beat us. We just can’t screw it up. If we’re honest, we know they don’t got anything.”
Belichick, after Goff interception late in fourth quarter: “He threw one up, we finally got one.”
McVay to Goff, after interception: “Hey, Jared: You’re doing great, man. We’re good.”
— No, he’s not.
Edelman during huddle before Patriots’ final drive: “Let’s end it. Let’s run it down their throat.”
Brady to huddle: “You’ve worn them out.”
You know what happened from that point forward: The Patriots drove down the field, kicked a field goal and ultimately won their sixth Super Bowl championship. Players and coaches were elated, to say the least.
We’d encourage you to watch the episode for yourself, as the tones of the players and coaches really make a big difference. Furthermore, the disparity between the teams’ respective focuses and attitudes couldn’t have been more different.
One team knew it was going to win, while the other hoped it was going to win — and that made all the difference.
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images