Well, that was vastly disappointing. The Rams just couldn’t get anything going on offense in their first Super Bowl since 2001. It had the excitement of a Browns/Bills preseason game. Despite their lackluster performance in the big game, the Rams had an incredible season. It’s a shame that it will be overshadowed by the ending.
A Disappointing Ending
Let’s start at the end first. The Super Bowl ended with a score of 13-3 Patriots. The mostly defensive battle was the lowest-scoring Super Bowl ever. Somehow, though, it was also the largest margin of victory the Patriots have had in a Super Bowl. The game was the lowest scoring for the Rams since Jeff Fisher was the coach.
It felt more like an offensive failure than a defensive clinic. The offense never got into a rhythm. The passing game never took off, and the Rams barely even used the running game despite running back Todd Gurley being healthy. It was an endless parade of incomplete passes, 2-yard gains, failed third-down conversions, and punts.
Rams offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth called the loss “shocking.” Coach Sean McVay called it “sickening.” Quarterback Jared Goff said the team got “outplayed,” and McVay confessed that he was “outcoached.”
At least some credit goes to the Patriot’s defensive performance. They threw all kinds of disguised fronts at the Rams and kept consistent pressure on the pocket. The Rams also more or less played the same way they did during the regular season, instead of coming up with new strategies, which meant the Pats were prepared to stop them.
The Rams unfortunate Super Bowl performance, though, contrasted quite sharply with their performance during the rest of the season. We shouldn’t forget that despite how they looked last Sunday, the Rams had an amazing season.
Looking Back at an Excellent Season
The Rams finished their regular season with a record of 13-3, mirroring the score of the Super Bowl. The Rams deserve credit for taking a team that had been mediocre for over a decade and making it a Super Bowl contender.
The team’s performance during the regular season and post-season games leading up to the Super Bowl was impressive. ESPN’s NFL Nation Reporter Lindsey Thiry even graded the season as “near perfection” in her post-Super Bowl review.
Since even before the season began, the Rams were making moves to put them in a position to make it to the championship. In the offseason, general manager Les Snead traded for cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters as well as receiver Brandin Cooks. LA then signed defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh in free agency and extended the contracts of Todd Gurley and Aaron Donald.
They started the season off hot, winning their first eight games, planting both Gurley and Goff firmly in the Most Valuable Player conversation. After a bit of a slump, the Rams recovered, with the addition of running back C.J. Anderson giving the team a boost.
All in all, the Rams averaged 32.9 points for the regular season, making them second in the league. The team also got second in yards with 421.1, fifth for pass yards with 281.7 and third in rush yards with 139.4
The true highlight of the season was the 54-51 shootout against the Chiefs on November 19. It’s a game that will be remembered for a long time, and possibly the best game in the NFL this season. It’s truly shocking that this same team put up 3 points in the Super Bowl.
Although LA’s defense looked great on paper, the results were a bit underwhelming. The Rams’ defense ranked 20th in the league for points allowed with 24, 19th for yards allowed with 358.6, 14th for pass yards allowed with 236.2 and 23rd for rush yards allowed with 122.3.
The Rams had lots of great individual performances as well. Goff ended the regular season with a total quarterback rating of 65.9, the 10th best in the league. However, he did fall apart near the end as the scores got progressively lower going from 48 to 30 to 25 and then 3.
With 20.5 sacks, Donald was the league’s sack leader for the regular season. He also won Defensive Player of the Year for the second year in a row. Gurley scored a league-best 21 touchdowns. McVay and Snead also deserve immense credit for their leadership.
Great Things Ahead?
The Rams may not have won the big game — or even looked good playing it. The fact remains, though, that they had an outstanding season. If they can learn from their mistakes, we could see them get a second chance next year.