Tyler Wilson, Contributing Writer
The Super Bowl is not just a game. It is a grandiose spectacle, where the two best teams in American football face off against each other under the flash of thousands of cameras and the eyes of millions of people. But the Super Bowl embodies more than just the two teams squaring off against each other: it is the ultimate example of the human desire for competition that stretches back millenia. For the athletes, it is a surreal experience; for some it is their most wonderful dream, for others it is their worst nightmare. Speaking of contrast, this year’s matchup was a giant one. In one corner: The New England Patriots, a team full of legends that have been to the Super Bowl four times in the past five years, leaving many people outside of New England with a bitter taste in their mouth. In the other corner: The Los Angeles Rams, a team full of young and exciting talent that had not been to a Super Bowl since 2002. It was a matchup of the past vs. the future, the glitz and glamour of Hollywood vs. the steady, almost boring, success of New England, the West Coast vs. the East Coast, in the most watched event in American sports.
Much like the makeup of the two teams, the path they took to get to the Super Bowl differed. The Patriots had an okay regular season, finishing 11-5, with all those losses coming to non-playoff teams. Tom Brady, their star quarterback who is widely considered among past and present NFL players to be the best quarterback of all time, was being criticized, even in the New England media, for not playing at the same level he had in the past.
The Rams, on the other hand, breezed through the season behind a high powered offense, led by Jared Goff and Todd Gurley, and the best defensive player in the league according to Pro Football Talk on NBC, Aaron Donald. Donald racked up the most sacks ever by a defensive tackle, and the Rams finished the season 13-3, with all of their losses coming to playoff teams. They were primed to make a playoff run.
In their first playoff game, the Patriots made a statement by demolishing the San Diego Chargers. They added an exclamation point to that statement by beating the top-seeded Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC title game with a vintage Brady game-winning drive. The criticism of Brady became a distant memory.
In the Rams first game, they had a comfortable but sloppy win over the Dallas Cowboys. In their next game, they were tied with the New Orleans Saints and the Saints were driving into Rams territory with under two minutes left in the game. They needed to stop the drive in any way possible. Sadly for the Rams, they could not. However, the referees could, and made “one of the worst no-calls in NFL history” according to CBS Sports, which wound up costing the Saints the game. The call was so bad that the NFL league office admitted that it messed up after the game.