Roderick Mclean |Staff Writer
Flickr User Don Sniegowski
The Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots will face off in Super Bowl LIII on Feb. 3. These two teams took different routes that got them to this point.
Rams quarterback Jared Goff became the youngest quarterback to win the NFC championship. Los Angeles defeated the New Orleans Saints, 26-23, in overtime this Sunday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, which was an extremely hostile environment.
The Rams started off slow, down 13-0 after the first quarter, but they were able to get back into the game as they scored a field goal and got a 6-yard rushing touchdown by running back Todd Gurley to make it 13-10 at the half.
In the third quarter, Saints quarterback Drew Brees increased their lead with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Taysom Hill. Saints kicker Wil Lutz made the extra point to put the Saints up 20-10.
Goff answered Brees by throwing a touchdown pass to Tyler Higbee with three minutes left in the third. Greg Zuerlein made the extra point to bring the Rams to within 20-17. Greg Zuerlein hit another field goal in the fourth quarter to tie it 20-20.
In the final minutes of regulation, the referees missed a crucial pass interference on Rams corner Nickell Robey-Coleman. The NFL admitted a penalty should have been called. This caused the Saints to kick a field goal with 1:45 left.
In nine plays, the Rams got in field goal range to tie it 23-23 and send the game to overtime.
The Saints got the ball first in overtime, but Brees was intercepted by Rams safety John Johnson.
Since L.A. was already in great field position, it didn’t take much for the Rams to get in field goal range. The kick was not an easy one, though. Zuerlein had to line up from a whopping 57 yards out to send his team to the Super Bowl.
The final score was 26-23 Rams, and head coaching phenom Sean McVay will, at 23, be the youngest coach to make a Super Bowl appearance.
In the AFC, the New England Patriots traveled to Kansas City to defeat the Chiefs. The Patriots’ running game was a factor, as running back Sony Michel scored a first-quarter touchdown. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady completed a touchdown pass to Phillip Dorsett before the half to make it 14-0.
The Chiefs got their offense together in the third quarter. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes delivered a touchdown pass to tight end Travis Kelce. The extra point was good, and the score was 14-7. Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski then converted on a 47-yard field goal to make it 17-7 Patriots.
At the beginning of the fourth quarter, Mahomes threw another touchdown pass to Damien Williams. The extra point brought the game 17-14.
It was clear that the tide was turning toward Kansas City.
When the Chiefs got the ball back, Mahomes converted again, hitting Williams again to take a 21-17 lead. Both teams battled back and forth this quarter. The Patriots answered with a Michel 10-yard rushing touchdown. The score was 24-21 Patriots with 3:36 left.
The Chiefs would answer with a Williams 2-yard rushing touchdown. The Patriots had 2:03 to come back, down 28-24. New England marched down the field in dramatic fashion, converting on multiple third-and-long to score and take a 31-28 lead.
Mahomes and the Chiefs had 39 seconds left to win it or send it to overtime. Mahomes put his team into field goal range, and kicker Harrison Butker sent the game to overtime.
The Patriots won the toss and did not look back. They drove down the field and won it 37-31 on a Rex Burkhead 2-yard touchdown.
This year’s Super Bowl, at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, will be a battle between experience and inexperience.
The most recent time the Rams were in the Super Bowl, it was against the Patriots in 2002. The Rams — then located in St. Louis — lost 20-17.
This will be the Patriots’ third straight year in the Super Bowl, as well as Brady and Belichick’s ninth time in the Super Bowl. Will they add another ring to their dynasty or will a young coach and quarterback secure their first championship?