Most were expecting an offensive shootout in Super Bowl LIII when the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams met at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Instead, football fans were treated to a defensive slugfest, which ultimately saw the Patriots prevail with a 13-3 victory and their sixth Super Bowl championship in franchise history.
Given the hype over potential leading up to the heavyweight bout, many were disappointed by the lack of damage done to the scoreboard in Atlanta. But for special-teams ace Matthew Slater, it was the type of game he dreams about. New England punted the ball away five times, and the Slater-led special teams unit thrice pinned L.A. inside the 10-yard line, which made life a whole lot easier on the Patriots defense.
Slater, a seven-time Pro Bowl selection, has played in four Super Bowls with the Pats, but the fight for the Lombardi Trophy this past February sits atop his personal power rankings.
“I know it wasn’t everyone’s favorite Super Bowl, but it was definitely mine,” Slater told ESPN’s Kevin Van Valkenburg. “It was just so rewarding to see all the years of work that we’d put in coming to fruition. … To put our defense in a position where they could play one of the best Super Bowls in history was so rewarding.”
Special teams are expected to be an area of strength for the Patriots yet again in the upcoming season. We could be in store for a significant tactical change, however, as rookie Jake Bailey and Ryan Allen will be in a battle for the punter job all preseason long.
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images