BY RYAN TOUHEY
Super Bowl 53 will take place on Feb. 3, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Ga. It will be contested between the National Football Conference (NFC) champion Los Angeles Rams, and the three-time defending American Football Conference (AFC) champion New England Patriots.
This will be the fourth Super Bowl appearance in the last five years for New England. Under the leadership of 19th-year head coach Bill Belichick and 18th-year quarterback Tom Brady, the Pats finished the regular season by capturing their 10th straight AFC Eastern Division title with an 11-5 record. They earned the second seed and a bye in the AFC playoffs.
In the Divisional Round, the Patriots defeated the Los Angeles Chargers at home, 41-28, to advance to the AFC Championship Game for the eighth straight year. Awaiting them, would be the top-seeded Kansas City Chiefs.
The game took place at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, and wound up going to overtime where New England started out with the ball after winning the coin toss. One possession was all it took for the Pats to secure their spot in the Super Bowl.
With 10:11 remaining in overtime on a New England 2nd and goal, Brady handed the ball off to running back Rex Burkhead, who ran into the end zone for the game winning touchdown. The final score was 37-31 Pats.
“My prediction for the Super Bowl is that the Patriots are going to win because they have beaten every opponent, as long as they’re not from the NFC East,” said Professor Brian Thorne. Thorne worked as an on-field cameraman for NFL Films from Super Bowls 42-49, and 51, four of which featured the Patriots.
The Rams are under the guidance of second-year head coach Sean McVay and third-year quarterback Jared Goff. McVay will be the youngest head coach in Super Bowl history at 33 years of age. Los Angeles won their second straight NFC Western Division title and tied the New Orleans Saints for the league’s best record at 13-3.
A 45-35 loss to the Saints in Week 9 of the season resulted in Los Angeles earning the number two seed and a bye in the NFC playoffs. In the Divisional Round, the Rams defeated the Dallas Cowboys, 30-22, to advance to the NFC Championship Game for the first time since 2001, when they were the St. Louis Rams.
In what ended up being a controversial NFC Championship, the Rams again faced the Saints in New Orleans. Los Angeles came back from deficits of 13-0 and 20-10, to tie the game at 20 in the fourth quarter.
With 1:48 remaining in the game, and the score still tied, the Saints had 3rd and 10 on the Rams’ 13-yard line. New Orleans’ quarterback, Drew Brees, threw an intended pass to wide receiver Tommylee Lewis. Lewis was hit hard by the Rams’ defensive back, Nickell Robey-Coleman, who blatantly appeared to have committed pass interference and a helmet-to-helmet collision.
However, the officials didn’t call anything on Robey-Coleman, and New Orleans had to settle for a field goal. The Rams would respond with a 48-yard field goal of their own from their placekicker, Greg Zuerlein, to tie the score at 23, and force the game into overtime.
Los Angeles wound up picking Brees in overtime and Zuerlein would hit a game-winning field goal from 57 yards out, to give the Rams the 26-23 victory. Goff became the youngest quarterback in history to win an NFC title game, at 24 years old. It was also the first time in history that two National Football League playoff games went into overtime on the same day.
“The Rams will win because they have way more star power and New England barely got out of Kansas City alive,” said sophomore media arts major Brendan Barbone. “Kansas City’s defense is nowhere near as good as Los Angeles’ defense. If everything goes right for the Rams, I can see them taking this game by one or two scores easily.”
This is a rematch of Super Bowl 36. New England defeated then St. Louis, 20-17, to capture their first Super Bowl title in history.
That was also the last time the Rams were in a Super Bowl. The last and only time they’ve won it was Super Bowl 34, when they defeated the Tennessee Titans, 23-16. Coincidentally, the Rams won the title in Atlanta.
Kickoff for Super Bowl 53 is set for 6:30 p.m., eastern standard time, and will be televised on CBS.