ATLANTA — The New England Patriots had just scored the first touchdown in Super Bowl LIII to go up 10-3 with 7:03 left to go in the fourth quarter of a game many thought was unwatchable, it was so boring.
Suddenly, the NFC-champion Los Angeles Rams’ anemic offense came to life after producing just 58 yards rushing, 95 yards passing and a total of three points after three quarters.
Rams quarterback Jared Goff started the most important drive of the game from his own 25-yard line with 7:00 left in the fourth quarter.
On the first play, Goff looked good, hitting wide receiver Brandin Cooks for a 19-yard gain and a first down at the Rams’ 44-yard line.
Three plays later, he hit wide receiver Josh Reynolds to the left for 11 yards and a first down at the New England 44-yard line.
Goff then threw a strike to wide receiver Robert Woods for a 17-yard pickup and a first down at the New England 27-yard line with 5:01 left in the fourth quarter.
The Rams were rolling. The Mercedes- Benz Stadium crowd that had been sitting on its hands for much of the game was back into to it. Patriots fans borrowed the Boston Celtics’ chant they bestowed on the Sixers at the end of a game seven the Celtics were losing in an Eastern Conference finals in the early ‘80s.
“Beat L.A.” could be heard going through the stadium.
Would Goff pull it off? Would he score a touchdown and push the game into overtime?
After an incomplete pass intended for Cooks, Goff threw a desperation pass that was picked off by Patriots standout cornerback Stephon Gilmore that effectively ended the game.
The Patriots drove the field, and Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 41-yard field goal to make the final score 13-3, giving the Patriots their sixth Lombardi Trophy in franchise history. Gilmore said getting the interception that clinched a world championship was something he dreamed of as a kid.
“It’s a blessing,” Gilmore said after the game. “It’s something you dream about. It goes back to all the hard work you put in throughout the season, nobody believing in us, sticking together. No one knows how hard we worked. It’s a great feeling.”
Gilmore was asked if the defensive effort the Patriots put on was a statement to those detractors who looked at the 41 points the Philadelphia Eagles scored on them last year in Super Bowl LII as the basis for their doubts.
“Each team is different,” Gilmore said, not warming to the question. “You never know how it’s going to go year-to-year. You’ve just got to trust each other. We just played a different team. They (the Eagles) have really good players…we just have to have faith in each other and do the best we can.” ••