- - Sunday, February 3, 2019

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Tony Romo has been hailed as a brilliant football analyst, and he showed why Sunday night on CBS with about 11 minutes left in the second quarter of Super Bowl LIII.

“This is hard to watch,” Romo declared, and he had never been more right.

The heavyweight matchup between the playoff-veteran New England Patriots and the newcomer Los Angeles Rams didn’t pack many punches, at least not offensively. But, like a wily old boxer, Patriots coach Bill Belichick controlled the fight until the championship rounds — the fourth quarter.

With 41-year-old Tom Brady delivering the blows, the Patriots landed the knockout shots midway through the quarter with an 29-yard pass to tight end Rob Gronkowski, followed by a two-yard run by Sony Michel for the only touchdown of the game in a 13-3 New England victory — the sixth Super Bowl championship for the legendary combination of Belichick and Brady.

In case there was any debate before the game, there will be none now — Belichick alone sits on top of the coaching throne as the greatest coach in NFL history.



His sixth NFL championship ties two coaches from a different era – Chicago’s George Halas and Green Bay’s Curly Lambeau – but to reach nine Super Bowls in this era of free agency and 32-team competition and win six of them gives him, for all intents and purposes, sole possession of the crown.

The same goes for Brady, whose closest championship Super Bowl competition are Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw, both with four rings.

He stands alone on top of the quarterback mountain, and remarkably, at the age of 41, is still playing at an elite level and has said he has no plans to retire.

The win had Belichick’s fingerprints all over it. He put a defense out there that stopped a powerful Rams offense — the second best in the league this season. He made life miserable for Rams quarterback Jared Goff, pressuring the young quarterback all night and calling defensive coverages that left Goff with few options.

The 66-year-old Belichick outcoached the new young head coaching hotshot, Rams coach Sean McVay. The 33-year-old former Washington Redskins offensive coordinator may be the future sidelines star, but Belichick showed he is still the master.

This was a legacy game, a historical marker for the Patriots in not just NFL history, but all of professional sports as one of the greatest franchises of all time. It was, though, the only thing that made the game memorable.

The teams went into the locker room at halftime with the Patriots leading 3-0. It was the second-lowest scoring first half in Super Bowl history. There were more punts than points.

There is a good chance that much of the conversation at Super Bowl parties early in the game was about what the best commercial was — M&M’s “Bad Passengers” or perhaps Planters “Mr. Peanut is Always There in Crunch Time,” which for some reason included baseball cheater Alex Rodriguez.

Then came the halftime “NFL 100 gala” commercial, featuring current and former NFL stars battling over a football knocked off a cake at a banquet (one moment had Franco Harris recreating his 1972 “Immaculate Reception” play for the Steelers). That may have been the most entertaining — despite with presence of hapless NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

Perhaps the most controversial early moment of the big game came just before kickoff on one of the many popular prop bets offered.

One of the most popular is how long the National Anthem will take to be sung. The over/under for the rendition by Gladys Knight was 1 minute, 45 seconds. It lasted 1 minute, 47 seconds, but there was debate over the singer adding another “brave” to the song, which turned out to be the difference between the over and the under.

It was such a point of contention that at least one online sports book, BetOnline, reportedly paid off for both the over and the under.

The over/under for the game before kickoff was 56.5 points. It dropped to 23.5 by halftime. And even with that, the under still came in, with 16 points the lowest scoring total in Super Bowl history.

It won’t go down as a great game — far from it. But it will be remembered as the game that signed, sealed and delivered the greatness of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.

Hear Thom Loverro on 106.7 The Fan Wednesday afternoons and Saturday and Sunday mornings and on the Kevin Sheehan Show podcast every Tuesday and Thursday.

 

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