“If you like offensive football, well, too bad…”
That’s what CBS commentator Tony Romo said during the defense-dominated first half of Super Bowl 53 between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia.
By halftime, the score was Maroon 5, Patriots 3, Rams 0.
Most people commenting on social media – or in text threads with their friends – said they were bored by the lowest scoring Super Bowl game in history.
Cindy Boren of the Washington Post even called it the “Stupor Bowl,” or “Super Bust,” as a friend called it at coffee.
Before the second quarter started, my wife started cooking, happy to have an excuse to step away from the “Groundhog Day” of three-and-outs.
Not even Rams punter Johnny Hekker’s record-breaking 65-yard boot was enough to get us excited, as the teams continued to trade off without more than a field goal each.
The commercials didn’t help much with the excitement. Some may disagree, but I was pretty surprised with the perception of artificial intelligence. I learned during commercial breaks that Alexa is depressed because she’ll never be able to stack different-flavored Pringles together and robots of the future will be melancholy because – no matter how impressive they are in the gym – they can’t go out and enjoy a cold Michelob Ultra at the bar.
I feel like most of the ads failed to be funny; instead, they were either flat or absurd. A lot of us were eagerly anticipating the return of Jeff Bridges’ in his most iconic role as Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski. But seeing “The Dude” go up to the bar, decline a White Russian and order a Stella Artois felt unnatural and random.
However, I enjoyed Michael Bublé changing the spelling on bottles of Bubly sparkling water. Bublé doesn’t get enough credit for his sense of humor (when I saw him live he pretty much had a comedy routine between songs). It was also fun to see a lot of NFL Hall of Famers goof off together, recovering a golden football that dropped off a giant cake after at a banquet (celebrating that next year is the NFL’s 100th season). An Indianapolis native, I was happy to see Peyton Manning make an appearance, although it also reminded me of all those years Patriots quarterback Tom Brady defeated the Colts in the AFC Championship game.
Considering how many times Brady and Patriots coach Bill Belichick had outplayed and outcoached my hometown team, I’ve found it easy to root against them. Chargers fans, Chiefs fans, even Rams fans know this feeling all too well, as Sunday marked the second time the Pats had defeated the Rams for the title.
In 2002, Tom Brady was 24, leading an unproven Patriots team against a Rams team hoping to win their second Super Bowl in two years.
Who would have guessed we’d see Brady and Belichick appear in nine Super Bowls – and win six of them. The NFL has never seen this level of greatness – it’s on par with what Michael Jordan and Phil Jackson did with the Chicago Bulls. They made six NBA Finals appearances, and won them all.
“Appreciate it while you’ve got it,” said commentator Jim Nantz. “You’ll never see anything like this again.”
Nantz is right. For people outside of New England, it can get a little old for the Patriots to make it to the big game again and again, but it’s a waste of time to get angry about it. When the game ended, I felt nothing but respect for Brady, especially as I watched him go out of his way to congratulate the Rams players. This was a surprisingly difficult task for the greatest quarterback of all time, as he had to navigate through a sea of broadcasters, trying to stay polite and professional while pushing people out of his way. This sight was just as absurd as watching a robot longing for Michelob Ultra. Everyone was so preoccupied on getting a good shot of the legend that they barely let him congratulate his opponents after a hard-fought battle.
And it was indeed hard-fought. Both offenses struggled because the coaches had excellent defensive game plans. Love it or hate it – this was good football, and, like the Patriots dynasty, it should be appreciated.
That being said, when the 100th NFL season kicks off in September, I’ll be rooting for the Colts.
(as published in the Lewistown News-Argus)