2018-2019 NFL Super Bowl 53

This might one of the worst Super Bowls for me. I would love to see the Rams lose, but that would mean the Patriots would win. I’d equally love to see the Patriots lose, but that would mean the Rams would win. If there were a way that both teams would lose, I’d be happy. The next best option would be seeing the team that plays good defense and runs well win the game, but would still mean one the team I was rooting against won the game.

I guess I can add some additional comments. The first thing that comes to mind is a theme I’ve been sticking with, and I think has been fairly prominent–namely, the team that can run well and control the clock will have an advantage and likely win (assuming that they also protect the football and don’t give up big ST plays). Of the two teams, the Patriots seem like the one that has a better chance of doing that. On the other hand, the Rams pro style offense is the type that can give Belichick’s teams a hard time, especially if the Rams commit to the run. If they run as much as they did against the Cowboys, I think this will be a close game. If the Rams are one-dimensional, I think they’ll lose.

44 thoughts on “2018-2019 NFL Super Bowl 53

  1. This Super Bowl will be a battle of the coaches. Not just McVay and Belichick, but one can say McVay versus McDaniels and Belichick verus Phillips or McVay versus Belichick and McDaniels versus Phillips. Both teams will devote their efforts in stopping the run. On one hand, I think the Patriots are the better running team, however as bad as the Rams has been all year, I think they have the better defensive front seven in terms of talent. Brady might be the difference, as the difference between Brady and Goff may be the biggest variance in terms of talent when matching up the two teams. I cannot see Goff making a whole lot of plays, but I’ll be cheering for the Rams.

    1. Both teams will devote their efforts in stopping the run.

      I have some doubt about this–especially with the way the Patriots will play the Rams. For most of the year, McVay and his offense seems to prefer passing significantly more than running, giving me the impression that if you dared them to run a lot, they wouldn’t. What gives me pause about this is the Cowboys game–there, they ran it and ran it a lot. I think that one game might prevent Belichick employing a strategy that dares the Rams to run (i.e., take away explosive plays).

      One other thing that came to mind. I would guess that Belichick would want to use all sorts of exotic blitzes against the Goff and the Rams. However, I would also guess that the Rams use of no huddle would prevent that. So now I have no idea how Patriots will play them. Maybe they’ll do what you said and just try to stop the run, and then hope to limit the explosive plays via play action. If this is the Patriots approach, my guess is that the Patriot’s ability to control the ball will be even more critical (same with turnovers and ST play).

      On one hand, I think the Patriots are the better running team,…

      I would agree, if you mean the Rams don’t seem as eager and willing to run a lot; whereas I don’t doubt the Patriots are willing to gash an opponent all day. If the Rams commit to the run, I’d say they’re pretty even with the Pats run game.

      however as bad as the Rams has been all year, I think they have the better defensive front seven in terms of talent….

      The Rams defense has look way better in the playoffs. They’re still not great, but they’re not terrible either. I feel similarly about the Chiefs defense.

      I cannot see Goff making a whole lot of plays,..

      The key to Goff making plays is a) the degree to which the Rams are a balanced offense; and b) the quality of pass protection. If the Rams are one dimensional (passing a lot) and Goff is under duress, it’s hard for me to see the Rams winning.

      1. For most of the year, McVay and his offense seems to prefer passing significantly more than running, giving me the impression that if you dared them to run a lot,

        You stated this a few times, but my understanding is the Rams really has moved to a running offense in the later part of the season (and I’ve heard this been stated by a few pundits). And more so, since acquiring CJ Anderson. I want to say instead of the Dallas game being the anomaly, the Saints game was the anomaly in that the Rams tried to play catch up for most of the game, which resulted in them passing more than they wanted to. Even with that, I thought the Rams were slightly more committed to the run game than the Saints were. So you are predicting a lot of dime and nickel packages by the Pats? I think that would be a mistake.

        1. …but my understanding is the Rams really has moved to a running offense in the later part of the season (and I’ve heard this been stated by a few pundits).

          It depends on when we’re looking at. The three game stretch of Lions-Bears-Eagles–I think they leaned more heavily towards the pass, and these teams defended them that way. There were only two games after that, against the Cardinals and 49ers. They might have been more committed to the run at that point, but I can’t remember.

          So you are predicting a lot of dime and nickel packages by the Pats?

          They could do this, but I’m too uncertain to make a strong prediction. I don’t know how the Patriots will eventually play them. I don’t think you can gamble that McVay won’t run a lot, if you dare him. So I guess Belichick’s not going to do that. If the Rams are balanced, then ultimately, I the Patriots offense will have to win this, and this will involve controlling the clock.

  2. I didn’t see an outcome prediction from either of you. Very disappointing from Don, exactly what I expect from Reid.

    I agree with something I heard someone say, that the Rams are better at pretty much every position except QB. I give the Patriots the slight edge in defense and running (running because something about Gurley seems off).

    I think the Patriots will do everything they can not to let this turn into a shoot-out. They survived Kansas City; they can survive Los Angeles.

    Patriots 27, Rams 22.

    1. Yeah sorry, I had to reread what I wrote previously. But you can kind of take from what I wrote that I had the Pats winning. I should have been more clear. I was telling my friend, who just came back from Vegas a few days before the game, if she knew anyone going after the Super Bowl because I wanted to bet on the Pats.

  3. Comments:

    In a way this was defensive battle, field position game. Buy a part of resists saying this, partly because I wonder if the offenses just weren’t playing that well, more than both defenses playing great. Brady was kinda shaky during the game, especially early on. (He’s lucky he didn’t throw a second INT.) Would you guys agree with that? Then again, both defense did play well–so much better than I’ve seen from either defense in the regular season.

    Don, did the Rams look more pass-oriented to you? They kind of did to me. However, a big part of this could have been due to terrible 3rd down play by the Rams. My sense is that part of this was due to bad 2nd down play, but I’m not sure if this is true. It seemed liked the Rams would get good yards on first down (e.g., 5 yards), but then do poorly on 2nd down. Then again, even on 3rd and 4-6, they didn’t seem that good. In any event, I think it’s really hard to get your run game going if you’re failing a lot on 3rd downs, especially early in the drive. But I wonder how often they would have ran the ball.

    Punting and field position seemed really huge in this game.

    1. Another question for you guys: Do you think the Patriots had better balance, and if so, do you think that was a big reason for why they won? A part of me thinks so, but I’m not entirely certain. I do think the Patriots running the ball paid dividends on that last drive. It almost looked like the Rams defense was breaking.

      Still, I don’t think the Patriots dominated on the ground, and they also struggled to sustain drives, although I think they avoided a lot of quick possessions. Also, for some possessions they switched to a more spread offense, not really relying a lot on the ground game in those formations. I guess you could say the Pats did better in pro style and spread.

      On the other hand, because the Rams did so poorly at converting first downs, that prevented them from running the ball. Maybe they would have been more balanced. ?

  4. The Rams in the first half ran on 80% of their first downs is my guess. As Romo stated, they had to mix that up in the second, which they did. I thought they actually stuck to the run a little too much especially on first and second downs. If anything they should have been running more on third down.

    Romo also pointed out kind of what I’ve been saying about Goff and that he needs to throw the ball quick, which is his first or second read. Outside of those, he is horrible. Romo was also saying Goff is not a pocket passer and really needs to get outside of the pocket to be effective. That could be true as well. The biggest thing is how badly the interior of the Ram’s offensive line played, especially on pass pro. The Pats front was just pushing guys back, getting around them really easily. There was no pocket to throw from for most of the game.

    Brady was pretty bad, as you said, in this one for the most part. I think Phil Simms (or someone else) pointed it out at the half, that they thought Brady looked or acted confused. But like I said when the Rams played the Cowboys, their DBs give too much space. This gave Brady just enough to make enough plays. The Pats move the ball okay in the first half, but they couldn’t score nor could they break into the red zone. Maybe that’s the bend but don’t break style, but the Pats don’t have great receivers that can create space on their own, so I thought the Rams could play a little more aggressively.

    I like that McVay said he was out coached by Belichick after the game…

    1. So you disagree with my impression–you thought the Rams were more of run oriented? One way I judge this is to watch how often they play action versus hand the ball off. When defenses started to do well against the Rams, my sense is that they anticipated play action a lot more, almost ignoring the run, or they ignored the jet sweep (which the Rams hardly featured yesterday). It seemed like the Rams were going to play action a lot more. (Against the Cowboys, my impresion was that the Rams handed the ball off more than going to play action.) Also, they seemed to pass from shotgun in a way that seemed predictable. (I agree they should have ran a bit more on 3rd; they could have tried to run from the shotgun as well.)

      As for Goff, I just think it boils down to his inability to throw with a lot of pressure. I’ve seen him hold the ball and do well–but that’s when the pass protection is really clean. I don’t necessarily think he’s better outside of the pocket. If he’s pressured outside of the pocket, I don’t think he’ll do well. To me, the big question is if he can improve in this area. I don’t know the answer to that. But if he can’t, I think the chances of him leading a team to the Super Bowl is really low.

  5. Reid said

    On the other hand, because the Rams did so poorly at converting first downs, that prevented them from running the ball. Maybe they would have been more balanced. ?

    It wasn’t first downs that were the issue, really, unless you consider the Patriots’ containing Rams’ rushers on first down the real problem for the Rams. I agree with Don and Romo that they needed to mix it up — in the second half, there was one point where Romo actually said something like, “See? They passed on first down and ran on second down and now they have third and short. They need to keep mixing it up.”

    Don said

    If anything they should have been running more on third down.

    Both teams should have run more on third down.

    Brady was pretty bad for long stretches, but he made some pretty plays.

    The Patriots D up the middle seemed to be having their way on the important downs. There was that one play late where it looked like three New England LBs were all right in Goff’s face at the same time. The Patriots linebackers had a great game.

    I do think the Patriots played the more balanced game, but I wished in the first half they’d run the ball more. On the other hand, it seemed to me that both Ds were focusing on stopping the run and making the QBs find their guys against DBs who did pretty dang well on both sides. If neither team can run, I’ll take Brady against almost anyone, although that’s not the best way for them to win anymore.

    1. It wasn’t first downs that were the issue, really, unless you consider the Patriots’ containing Rams’ rushers on first down the real problem for the Rams.

      Did they really contain the Rams running on first down? I could be totally wrong, but I feel like they got good yardage on first down, running the ball. If you get 5 yards on a 1st down run, I don’t think the problem is running on 1st down.

      I do think the Patriots played the more balanced game, but I wished in the first half they’d run the ball more.

      I feel like they started running well, and quite a bit. The turnover wasn’t good, and like you said, I think the Rams adjusted a bit.

      1. No I’m pretty sure they weren’t getting 5 yards on their running plays. The Rams weren’t in a lot of third and short in the first half when they were running a lot on first down. They would get a couple decent runs but they would get stopped about the same amount of time for less than three. I’m pretty sure. I think the Rams would have been in a much better place if they would have had some more success on first down.

        1. OK thanks. This might make me re-watch the game to confirm this. And to be clear, I didn’t mean to say they got 5 yards on every run–I was mostly thinking of 1st down runs (and not literally 5 yards every time).

        2. No I’m pretty sure they weren’t getting 5 yards on their running plays. The Rams weren’t in a lot of third and short in the first half when they were running a lot on first down.

          I went to check this out, and tabulated the numbers. (My notes were messy so maybe I made some errors.) Here’s what I got.

          The Rams had 6 possessions in the first half. They had 8 1st down plays. Here’s the first downs in order they occurred:

          R, 2 yards
          R, 5 yards (jet sweep)
          P, inc
          R, 5 yards (false start on next play made it 2nd and 10)
          R, 5 yards
          P, 3 yards
          R, 5 yards
          P, -6 yards (sacked)

          End of the half:
          Patriots offense: 42 plays, 19:26 TOP
          Rams offense: 23 plays, 8:48 TOP

          What’s interesting to me is that the Rams make up for plays and TOP in the 4th (Pats O: 13 plays, under 4:00 minutes TOP and Rams O: 23 plays, under 12 min. TOP), but I don’t think it matters so much because going into the 4th, the Rams have only run 40 plays (alternatively, the Patriots have only had 40 defensive plays). Supposedly, the breaking point for defenses is 65 plays. The Patriots defense is in a good position to withstand longer drives and more plays at this point.

          On the other hand, at the Patriots offense first possession in the 4th quarter, they’re up to 58 plays. It’s on this possession that they score a TD in five plays. Now the Rams defense is up to 63 plays. On the next Patriots possession, at about 4:00 minutes, the Patriots run 8 plays, almost bleeding out the entire clock.

          Of course, the INT is a big deal, which occurs with under 5:00 minutes left. If they had scored, the game is really different. Still, the Patriots are the driver’s seat because they’re at 63 plays. (The Rams at that point have run 56 plays. Depending on how much time the Patriots offense hold the ball, the Patriots defense will have some rest before facing the Rams offense.)

          Some takeaways: Total TOP and total plays can be misleading. In the first half, I think running more plays and dominating the clock is really a big deal. A team that can do this puts their opponent in a hole that is hard to dig out of. (I want to say the Saints either fell into this whole and dug out or came close to falling in the hole when they played the Eagles. I feel like the Seahawks fell in this hole against the Cowboys, and the Cowboys fell into the hole against the Rams. My guess is that the Chiefs could have fell into this hole, but Patriot turnovers offset this.)

          One takeawa

          1. Yeah I looked at some of the stats and you were right, the Rams did better than I thought on first down. It seems like on second down was when they really struggled. Even after getting to second and five, they would run again and lose yards putting them in third and long. That seems pretty unusual.

    2. Then why even suggest that they had problems converting on first down? Don’t you prefer offenses that use up their downs but keep moving down the field? My feeling was that neither team ran very well on first down until the Patriots in the fourth quarter.

      Oh, and I missed the whole first possessions of the game for each team, so my assessment is minus whatever happened up to the second Pats possession.

      1. Then why even suggest that they had problems converting on first down?

        Shoot, did I say that. I’m pretty sure I meant “converting first downs.”

        Oh, and I missed the whole first possessions of the game for each team,

        On the first drive, I think the Pats ran well in general.

    3. Speaking of the jet sweep, I love this play. When we were growing up, teams ran the sweep a lot, and I’ve missed it. I wondered if its decreased use was due to much faster O linemen and linebackers, in which case the jet sweet seems like a nice adjustment.

      The Patriots ran a modified jet sweep in the playoff game vs. Kansas City, where they had two tight ends and sent the second tight end in motion, with Brady basically just tossing the ball up right in front of him for the second TE to sweep with. It went in the book as a passing play (a nice first down gain) but it was effectively the same thing, I think. I wasn’t watching the blocking so I don’t know if it was set up like a sweep.

      1. Speaking of the jet sweep, I love this play. When we were growing up, teams ran the sweep a lot, and I’ve missed it.

        To me, the jet sweep is more like a end around, not a regular sweep. The end around worked like a play that was run up the middle, but then the QB gives it to a WR running horizontally. The jet sweep is the same thing except the QB gives the ball to the WR first. Sometimes the WR will go in motion like a jet sweep and then the QB will just give it to the RB–basically the reverse of an end around.

        I wondered if its decreased use was due to much faster O linemen and linebackers, …

        I would think with faster, more athletic O-linemen, the sweep would be more viable…Wait, to be clear, do you mean the student body left/right type of sweeps, where a couple of linemen pull? Those type of sweeps seem pretty rare.

        On a side note, Chip Kelly tried to revive this, and I think it would have been really effective if he had a good QB that posed a serious threat to run. (I wouldn’t mind seeing the Seahawks do this, although they’re guards and center probably isn’t athletic enough to do this well.)

  6. Here’s something that is finally sinking in: the Rams scored 3 points. That’s kind of unreal. The Rams struggled against the Bears (I can’t remember how many points they scored), but the Bears have a lot of talented players. I really don’t think the Patriots defensive roster is as good. So now I’m curious to know how the Patriots did this. Yes, they stopped the run and they got pressure on Goff–but how?

    Here’s one article I found that provided an answer:

    But having those edge linebackers up on the line of scrimmage crowded the tight-split receivers, and as the game progressed, the Rams got away from the tactic. Now playing in wider formations, their zone running game deteriorated, as did their inside play-action game and, therefore, their intermediate crossing routes. The Rams also stopped getting to the line of scrimmage quickly and calling audibles—a ploy made famous by McVay.

    Why did all of this happen? How exactly do edge LBs mess up the tight split WRs–enough to make them get away from these formations? Why did the wider formations mess up the zone running? What would have been a good way to counter this, if at all?

    Was this because of the scheme mentioned in Benoit’s piece (6-1 front seven–which I assume meant 4 DL, 2 LBs on the LOS, and 1 LB off the line)? I wonder if the Rams OL really isn’t as good, but the scheme and uptempo made them a lot better.

    Also, did it seem like the Rams played a lot at a fast tempo? It didn’t seem that way to me. They seemed to play slow or slower, except for a few occasions. They seemed to huddle up quite a bit as well.

    But I have to wonder: if the Rams ran it more and ran it successfully, I tend to think what Riddick mentions wouldn’t really matter that much. If you’re getting gashed on the ground, it’s going to be harder to be disciplined–you’re going to have a greater urgency to anticipate and stop the run. I suspect this would be even stronger if the RB was a home run threat.

    1. I forget where I saw it, but the person was saying how penetration stops the Rams rushing attack. They showed the difference between the penetration the Cowboys got versus what the Saints got and the correlating effectiveness against the Rams. To be fair the Cowboys try to get penetration from only certain positions (inside tackles), I believe, whereas other guys are “used” to the string the play out. So maybe it was just a bad match up, but how about some coaching adjustments. Anyhoo, that was something the article on Belichick’s game plan mentioned that the LBs were on the LOS and creating penetration. It also mentioned how dropping the safeties took away the slants Goff loves to throw. That was something the Cowboys did a great job of taking away for good parts of the game, but the Saints did a poor job of taking away.

      1. I forget where I saw it, but the person was saying how penetration stops the Rams rushing attack.

        In Benoit’s article (I think), he mentioned the Patriots played a 6-1 front–6 defenders on the LOS (4 D-linemen, 2 LBs on the edges), and 1 LB floating behind the LOS. My understanding is that the LBs on the edge really cut off the outside zone runs, and this allowed the interior defenders to focus on penetrating more.

        So maybe it was just a bad match up, but how about some coaching adjustments.

        To me the issue wasn’t lack of adjustment–it was the Cowboys offense inability to control the ball. Had they done a better job of this, even if they didn’t score a lot, the Cowboy defense would have been in a better position to slow or stop the Rams.

        1. In Benoit’s article (I think), he mentioned the Patriots played a 6-1 front…

          Yeah I was trying to convey in my post was that what I heard from another pundit matched what Benoit’s article mentioned in terms of slowing the Rams’ run game with penetration.

          it was the Cowboys offense inability to control the ball.

          I think in the past this would be true, but the Cowboys have moved from a team dependent on their offense to a team dependent on their defense. Would you say this about the Championship Raven teams if they lost the way the Cowboys did getting gashed on the ground? In Seattle’s lost to NE, if I remember correctly, Seattle’s didn’t get a third down conversion until the second half. Yeah I guess you can boil down Seattle’s loss to their lack of offense. In the Cowboy game, the defense had to help themselves. They didn’t allow a punt till the second half and even then they only allowed one. If the offense has to carry this team, at this point this team won’t get very far. Hopefully that will change next year.

          1. Yeah I was trying to convey in my post was that what I heard from another pundit matched what Benoit’s article mentioned in terms of slowing the Rams’ run game with penetration.

            OK, got it.

            Would you say this about the Championship Raven teams if they lost the way the Cowboys did getting gashed on the ground?

            While the Cowboys defense is good, you’re not saying they’re in the same ballpark as the 2000 Ravens team. And they’re going against a really good offense. I’ve seen the 2015 Broncos (against the Patriots) sustain great defense in spite of their offense not holding onto the ball very long. Same with the 2013 Seahawks. The 2018 Cowboys isn’t in the same category (none of the 2018 defenses, or any defense since, has been in the same category, at least I can’t think of any in 2016).

            In Seattle’s lost to NE, if I remember correctly, Seattle’s didn’t get a third down conversion until the second half. Yeah I guess you can boil down Seattle’s loss to their lack of offense.

            I think the struggles on offense came in the second half–at least in terms of ball control. (They had a deep pass to Kearse that he couldn’t bring in that probably could have sealed the game.)

            But also remember: Cliff Avril and Jeremy Lane, their starting nickel, got knocked out of the game.

            In the Cowboy game, the defense had to help themselves.

            I disagree–not against a really good offense like the Rams. The Cowboys defense isn’t good enough to be able to shut down the Rams offense, if they’re playing a lot of snaps, and not having a long rest between possessions. And the thing is, the Rams were pounding the ball. In that situation, it’s incumbent on the offense to get some long drives (and hopefully pound the opposing defense as well).

            If the offense has to carry this team, at this point this team won’t get very far.

            It’s not about “carrying”–it’s about extending drives. We’re not even talking about scoring a lot of points. Extending drives is a rather modest objective, way more than scoring TDs. The Cowboys defense isn’t one where the offense can fail to score and have a lot of short possessions.

          2. While the Cowboys defense is good, you’re not saying they’re in the same ballpark as the 2000 Ravens team.

            Yeah they are not there yet. Hopefully they can get closer next year. But on the other hand the Cowboy offense is maybe approaching good? Do you think this year’s Cowboy offense or Seattle’s Super Bowl team’s offense was better. At best they are equal.

            The Cowboy offense probably did better than both the Saints and Patriots did in the playoffs. If the Rams could run half as well against the Saints and Pats like they did against the Cowboys, they would have probably been Super Bowl champs. Just so I’m clear, you think the Cowboy loss has more to do with the offense than the defense correct? You must be the only football fan in America that would make that claim if that’s what you are saying.

  7. Some stats that stood out

    Rams punted on the first 8 possessions. On these drives, they never had a drive go for more than 23 yards or last more than 2:22 seconds.
    They didn’t have a 3rd down conversion until the 9th possession.

    This is kinda crazy. The Patriots drives during this stretch must have been fairly short ones, too, and I think that’s what I recall (except for the first two possessions, perhaps). If they had longer drives, I think the Patriots would have pulled away and would have been in control earlier in the second half.

    These stats speak to some combination of really good Rams defense and mediocre Patriot offense. The Rams defense are out of the field a lot and getting out their pretty quickly. The Seahawks defense would have given up way more points in that stretch in my opinion.

    Rams Were Out-schemed”

    That’s one of the comments I heard. My knee-jerk response to that: If their offense was outschemed–to the degree that they were completely shut down–then the Rams offense relied way too much on schemes. That is, your players really weren’t as good as they seemed. (Consider also the Patriots defensive roster didn’t seem really great.) Earlier in the season, the Rams OL looked like the most dominant OL in the league–run and pass blocking. What I was unsure about was the impact that the no-huddle and McVay’s coaching had on this performance. Now, it seems like the linemen (and overall players) aren’t as good. (Putting aside their OL, which I was unsure about, I never thought the Rams had great skill position players. Even with Gurley, I wasn’t a big fan.)

    Comments on the above:

    1. It’s hard for me to give any Patriots OC or DC any credit, given the pattern we’ve seen for about twenty years (or however long Belichick has been with the Pats). To wit, it does not matter who the OC or DC is (or ST coordinator)–the play calling and schemes are almost always excellent; they’ve been playing the amoeba/chameleon style for that time. (No other coach, including former Patriot coorinators, have replicated that style.) The only constant is Belichick. Therefore, I give most of offensive and defensive success to him. (Also, the Patriots roster is often not outstanding, including this year.)

    2. I agree with the second point, but as the stats show–the Rams punted on the first 8 possessions, not getting a 3rd down conversion until the ninth possession. (I wonder how many first downs they had in that stretch. I don’t think it was a lot.) It is hard to run the ball in those circumstances.

    Still, I think running the ball more and better was what they needed to do. Brooks mentioned settling down Goff–that’s exactly what the run game did in the Cowboy game (not that Goff was out of sorts). I think it would have slowed the Patriots pass rush and weakened their pass defense overall. Balance.

    But again, I think what a coach could do in this situation is limited. Running more isn’t a slamdunk solution to the situation. Had that ran more the results could have been similar. The Seahawks have been in a similar situation many times in the last few years. The difference is that fans would be screaming for more passing. Bottom line: If you’re struggling to convert a few first downs early in the drive, and you’re stringing together a bunch of short possessions, it’s really hard to run the ball and really hard to get your offense in a groove overall.

    Here’s a question: Are the Rams a run first offense? I think I’m still leaning with my earlier impression that they’re a pro style offense that seeks to use the pass to open up the run (like other 3 WR, 1 RB offenses in the past or even Air Coryell’s offense with the Chargers).

  8. Two Questions

    Did you guys think this game was boring?
    I’ve been catching up on podcasts, and that’s one complaint I heard (from more than a few people). I was a little surprised by that, but I guess I can see why someone would say that. I definitely don’t think this was the most boring Super Bowl. Most of the Super Bowls in the 80s were way more boring.

    Was this the greatest defensive performance in Super Bowl history?

    I don’t think it was the greatest, but I would think this has to be up there. What gives me pause is that I’m wondering if the Rams offense wasn’t as good as they seemed–that they looked so good because of overall mediocrity in the league and smoke and mirrors by McVay.

    What defensive performances would you put above this one?
    (I’ll respond to this later.)

    1. The game was super boring. There was no exciting plays, and both QBs really struggled. Everyone knows that Goff struggled, but even Brady looked terrible and as I stated Simms or one of the half time announcers pointed out that Brady looked confused.

      I think the problem is both teams’ offense came into this game being shaky, and more so for the Rams. The Rams really struggled down the stretch, and the Pats were just inconsistent especially if they couldn’t run the ball.

      No I didn’t think this was a great defensive performance, because of how I viewed the offenses If you take away a few things from the Rams, it seem they become very vulnerable. We will have to see how consistent the Rams are next year on offense or as you said, maybe the league as figured them out.

      1. The game was super boring.

        Hmm. I wonder if I didn’t feel this way because I had so little enthusiasm for the game. I was almost indifferent , and kinda want to watch the game quickly, just to get it over with.

        There was no exciting plays, and both QBs really struggled. Everyone knows that Goff struggled, but even Brady looked terrible and as I stated Simms or one of the half time announcers pointed out that Brady looked confused.

        Yeah, I can see that. I think if I didn’t have such a bad attitude, I might have felt the same way. Still, did you think the game was as bad as the blowouts in the 80s and 90s? Was the entertainment level of this game the similar or worse than the Giants-Ravens Super Bowl?

        I think the problem is both teams’ offense came into this game being shaky, and more so for the Rams. The Rams really struggled down the stretch, and the Pats were just inconsistent especially if they couldn’t run the ball.

        Yeah, I agree. This is basically what put a damper on the entire season for me (except I did enjoy watching the Seahawks physical run game). What seems like good performance or a good team seems like a mirage this year. Take the Seahawks. I’m a little skeptical the offense–the best parts, the running and deep passing–is as good as they seemed. Maybe a bit part of this is mediocre and inconsistent competition.

        No I didn’t think this was a great defensive performance, because of how I viewed the offenses If you take away a few things from the Rams, it seem they become very vulnerable.

        I would agree with this if I felt more confident in saying tha the Rams weren’t as good as they seemed. Do you feel like the Rams, Chiefs, Chargers–basically the best offenses or teams in general–aren’t really as good as they seemed?

        1. Do you feel like the Rams, Chiefs, Chargers–basically the best offenses or teams in general–aren’t really as good as they seemed?

          I wasn’t big on the Chargers. They seem really inconsistent. I was impressed with the Chiefs for most of the year and that included the playoff loss to the Pats. The Randy Moss Pats looked less as powerful down the stretch of their season as well, so I think defenses just catch up eventually. I was still impressed with Mahomes and the Chiefs and you have to keep in mind that they loss Hunt and was sort of running back by committee.

          1. Yeah, I probably shouldn’t have included the Chargers.

            And I think I would agree with you about the Chiefs. They seemed like a legitimately good, if not very good, offense. And maybe losing Hunt was a big reason they slowed down a bit. Still, I can’t help but feel that offenses that show a facility and penchant for explosive passing tend to become too one-dimensional as opposed to balanced and that can hurt them, especially in the playoffs. My point is that this may also be a reason the Chiefs and Rams didn’t look as good in the playoffs as they did in the regular season.

  9. Don,

    It seems like on second down was when they really struggled. Even after getting to second and five, they would run again and lose yards putting them in third and long. That seems pretty unusual.

    Yeah, my initial impression was that second down was where the team struggled–but it wasn’t the running that was the problem. They had one negative run on 2nd down in the first half.

    You know what stands out to me? They passed too much–and they had too many incompletions. If more of several more of these incompletions turned to 2-3 yard gains, that might a significant different. One thing I heard from Bucky Brooks via a former executive–This was a heavyweight fight and the Rams kept going for the knockout blow instead to working the body. I think there is some truth to that. Think of the times Goff is under center, drops back and gets read to either hand the ball off or fake it. In the Cowboys game, I felt like he handed it off a lot–more than usual. In this game, I feel like he faked it too much.

    Yeah they are not there yet. Hopefully they can get closer next year. But on the other hand the Cowboy offense is maybe approaching good? Do you think this year’s Cowboy offense or Seattle’s Super Bowl team’s offense was better. At best they are equal.

    I think this is a tough question to answer. I think there is so much mediocrity and inconsistency this year that it is incredibly difficult to know how good teams really are. I’ll put it this way. My guess is that if the 2018 Cowboys offense played in 2013, they would not be as good as the 2013 Seahawks playing in 2018.

    As for the first point, I think the key is their OL. How good will they be? If they return to where they were in the past, I think the offense can get a lot better. If not, I tend to think they will be inconsistent. One exception to this is if Prescott makes huge improvements. (I’m losing a little confidence that he’ll do this.)

    The Cowboy offense probably did better than both the Saints and Patriots did in the playoffs.

    I’m not sure I’d go that far. I think you could make a strong case between the Cowboys and the Saints. The Patriots offense was great against the Chargers. The Cowboys offense against the Seahawks did not play at that level.

    If the Rams could run half as well against the Saints and Pats like they did against the Cowboys, they would have probably been Super Bowl champs.

    I think I agree, althoug I would change that to running in a similar fashion.

    Just so I’m clear, you think the Cowboy loss has more to do with the offense than the defense correct? You must be the only football fan in America that would make that claim if that’s what you are saying.

    Either others are failing to appreciate the impact offenses have on the way defenses play, or I’m overestimating the impact. (I wouldn’t really be surprised if I’m overestimating the impact, but here’s something to think about: I don’t think there is any other sport where the offense has the ability to controls the plays their defense has to play and the time they have in between possessions. This is hard to imagine, but suppose that a basketball offense could play such a way that their defense ended up playing on three quarters of the game, while the other team had to play four. Or, conversely, the offense plays in a way where their defense has to play an additional quarter. If an offense has that type of power, and they play in a way that leads to their defense playing more, with less rest in between possessions–and then let’s suppose the opposing offense is a high-powered difficult to stop offense–wouldn’t it be reasonable to blame the offense if they a bad job of controlling the ball.

    Here’s another way to look at it. I heard many pundits say that in order to be the Chiefs or Rams, the opposing offense had to keep the ball away from these offenses. That’s saying, to me, that these offenses are so good, you have to expect your defense will likely struggle. The onus then shifts to the opposing offense to control the ball, limit the possessions of the Chiefs and Rams offenses and limit the snaps of the opposing defense and give them more rest between possessions, if possible.

    We agree that the Cowboys defense wasn’t in the all-time great category–so they likely wouldn’t contain the Rams offense if the Cowboys offense wasn’t doing a good job of controlling the ball. If the Cowboys offense had too many short possessions, especially in the first half, they would have dug their defense and team into a hole, which is what happened to the Rams against the Patriots. Do you put all of the blame on the Rams defense for not stopping the Patriot offense in the 4 minute drill? I tend to put more of the blame of the Rams offense failure to control the clock in the first half.

    I can and do use a similar argument in the Seahawks loss to the Cowboys. Several people point to the defense failing to stop Dak’s third down run near the end of the game. But I’d argue that if the Seahawks controlled the ball better in the first half, the Seahawks D wouldn’t have played as many snaps at the end, and they would have had a better chance of stopping Prescott. That’s speculation on my part, but doesn’t that seem reasonable, if not compelling?

    I’m genuinely interested in hearing if you guys think I’m putting too much weight on ball control by the offense.

    1. In the Cowboys game, I felt like he handed it off a lot–more than usual. In this game, I feel like he faked it too much.

      The Rams run the RPO? I didn’t think they do… But I could just not be paying attention.

      I’m not sure I’d go that far. I think you could make a strong case between the Cowboys and the Saints. The Patriots offense was great against the Chargers.

      No what I meant in my comment, is I thought the Cowboy offense performed better than the Saints and Pats in these playoffs AGAINST the Rams. Not the entirety of the playoffs.

      Here’s another way to look at it. I heard many pundits say that in order to be the Chiefs or Rams, the opposing offense had to keep the ball away from these offenses.

      But that’s how they win. They win with their offenses, so yes if the offenses fail, you would assume they would have a good chance of losing. I would say the same of the 2016 Cowboys.

      which is what happened to the Rams against the Patriots. Do you put all of the blame on the Rams defense for not stopping the Patriot offense in the 4 minute drill?

      No of course not, the Rams defense played great, and it was their offense that failed them. I just don’t get that same sense in the Cowboy, Ram game. I get the sense the it was the defense that failed them. I cannot argue or say with 100% certainty, that it was the defenses fault, and so there is no proof I can give that you cannot dispute because offenses and defenses are intertwined in so many ways. But the defense allowed no punts in the first half and only one during the game, and ran for a ridiculous 273 yards (college numbers). What would happen if Dallas sustained one more drive in the first half or the start of the second half (I think that was there only three and outs.)? I cannot say for certain, because Dallas still had a chance to win despite how badly they played, but I still would have been disappointed in the defense if Dallas won in that situation.

      they would have had a better chance of stopping Prescott. That’s speculation on my part, but doesn’t that seem reasonable, if not compelling?

      Yeah that’s a tough one. Seattle’s defense held up pretty well for the most part I thought. And I think you have to give part of the credit to Dak, and part of the blame on the coaching scheme. If I remember correctly that was a designed QB draw, I thought at that point of the game with that down and distance that a QB draw was something the defense should have been scheming for. But I could be misremembering.

      I’m genuinely interested in hearing if you guys think I’m putting too much weight on ball control by the offense.

      I’m a huge believer in this as well. Dallas built their team’s success on this for a long while especially in 2014. I just think this is not the catch all. Dallas’ defense which is tons better than they were in 2014 never played that badly in 2014. Well not that I can remember anyway. Part of that can be that 2014 Dallas’ offense never played this badly either (although I didn’t think they played all the badly against the Rams), but I thought the Cowboys were lucky to be down 13-7 being how their defense played at that point in the second quarter.

      1. The Rams run the RPO? I didn’t think they do… But I could just not be paying attention.

        Sorry, by fake I mean Goff keeping the ball instead of handing it off. What I’m saying is that if you’re watching Goff drop back from under center, and you see the RB approaching him, you can try to guess if he’s going to hand it off or keep it/execute the play action, and then throw. In the Cowboys-Rams game, I felt like Goff handed the ball off a lot more than execute a play action fake. See what I mean?

        No what I meant in my comment, is I thought the Cowboy offense performed better than the Saints and Pats in these playoffs AGAINST the Rams. Not the entirety of the playoffs.

        Oh, OK, got it. The games aren’t entirely clear to me, but this is close call at best. And I’ll say this: If the Cowboys controlled the ball the way the Patriots did in the first half, I would have liked their chances of winning the game.

        But that’s how they win. They win with their offenses, so yes if the offenses fail, you would assume they would have a good chance of losing. I would say the same of the 2016 Cowboys.

        Wait, we need to be clear on what we mean by “winning by the offenses.” There’s two possible meanings–1) the opposing offense outscores the Chiefs/Rams offenses, or; 2) the opposing offense holds the ball for a long time, preventing opportunities for the Chiefs/Rams offenses and keeping the opposing defense well-rested.

        If you mean #2, then wouldn’t it be fair to say the Cowboys lost to the Rams because the Cowboy offense didn’t do a good job of controlling the ball?

        No of course not, the Rams defense played great, and it was their offense that failed them.

        Wait, I wasn’t precise enough. I meant, would you put most of the blame on the Rams defense for not defending the Patriots 4 minute drill very well (i.e., how they defended that specific drive)? I tend not to. I put quite a bit on the Rams offense for not controlling the clock better in the first half. Remember by the end of the half the Rams defense already played 42 plays for about 20 minutes, while the Patriot defense only played 23 plays for a little under 9 minutes. Rams d was close to or hit the 65 play breaking point in the Patriots last drive.)

        I just don’t get that same sense in the Cowboy, Ram game.

        I don’t remember the details but to get a better sense of this, I would go back and look at each possession, and see how many plays each team ran and how much time they used, focusing on the first half. I want to say the Rams dominated in terms of the number of plays and TOP. Additionally, they were pounding the Cowboys defense in the process. I feel like the Cowboys were on the opposite end of the spectrum on this. If this is accurate, then I’d put considerable blame on the Cowboys offense (especially since sustaining drives is more of a modest goal than scoring TDs; it’s like asking a baseball team to get on base and hit singles versus hit a lot of homeruns, mulit-base hits).

        But the defense allowed no punts in the first half and only one during the game, and ran for a ridiculous 273 yards (college numbers).

        On the surface, this makes the defense look bad. But remember, most people agree that the Rams offense is hard to stop and that in order to have a chance the opposing offense had to hold the ball. (This is tacit agreement that the Rams offense is just too good, and it’s not reasonable to expect defenses to really contain them on their own.) Additionally, if the Cowboys had longer drives in the firs half, I think it’s reasonable to expect the Rams running for less yards.

        (On a side note, my feeling is that if you’re playing an opposing offense that can run well and have a lot of long drives, it is vitally important that your offense can do the same. I’d almost say this is more important than scoring. (Or, you better be able to score TDs and continue to score TDs until the very end of the game.) Why? Because if you’re not having long drives, your defense is going to be on the field more often and they’re going to be accumulating a lot of snaps. If you control the ball, you mitigate that and protect the defense. Do you agree with my thinking here?)

        I cannot say for certain, because Dallas still had a chance to win despite how badly they played, but I still would have been disappointed in the defense if Dallas won in that situation.

        The Seahawks could have won, too. Same with the Rams against the Patriots. But because of the poor ball control in the earlier part of the game, by both offenses, they were in a bad situation at the end of the game. Conversely, the Cowboy and Patriot defenses were in much better situations because they played a relatively low number of snaps in the earlier part of the game–so they were better equipped to stop the Seahawks and Rams offenses in the crucial end game situations.

        (If the Seahawks won, I would have been disappointed in the offense. But the Seahawks situation is different from the Cowboys in that the Seahawks defense isn’t as good in my opinion.)

        Yeah that’s a tough one. Seattle’s defense held up pretty well for the most part I thought. And I think you have to give part of the credit to Dak, and part of the blame on the coaching scheme.

        Wagner and another defender were there to make the tackle, but they missed. (Carroll suggested that Wagner got pushed a little in the back.) Heading into the end of the season, Wagner hadn’t missed a tackle. Imagine if the Seahawks defensive snap count was in the 40s approaching the 50s at that point instead of the 50s approaching the 60s. If 65 is the breaking point, I mean that could make a huge difference.

        Go on the other side of the ball, too. On one of the final drives for the Seahawks, the Seahawks commit two huge penalties, killing the drive. One was a stupid play by the offense, but I think the other was a hold by Britt. If the Cowboy defense wasn’t as fresh at that point, maybe that hold doesn’t occur.

        I just think this is not the catch all.

        Basically, you think the impact is significant, but just not as much as me. In thinking about this more, I feel like we should be on the same page. The 2013 Cowboy defense sucked, and they had a more pass-happy explosive offense. The 2014 defense didn’t change significantly but they almost magically became serviceable. It seems compelling that the reason for this was that the Cowboys became a really good running, ball-control offense. It’s only one example, but it seems like a compelling evidence that the offense has a huge impact on quality of its defense.

        Dallas’ defense which is tons better than they were in 2014 never played that badly in 2014. Well not that I can remember anyway. Part of that can be that 2014 Dallas’ offense never played this badly either (although I didn’t think they played all the badly against the Rams),…

        No, I’m pretty sure the vulnerabilities of the 2014 Cowboy defense were significant and would appear (I believe against the Eagles or other spread offenses). To me, here’s the situation:

        2014: great ball control offense + OK defense
        2018: inconsistent/OK ball control offense+ very good defense

        The results of such a team could be quite similar. But I actually think the 2014 team was significantly better than the 2018 team, and I think the 2014 team would have been my pick to go all the way if they played in 2018. A big part of this is that the 2014 ball control offense was significantly better than the 2018 defense. (The 2018 defense struggled with consistency in my view, which indicates they weren’t great.)

        By the way, I’ve applied what I’m saying to the Seahawks. The Seahawks should either get a player that can move them close to the 2013-2014 defense or a better ball control offense (moving them closer to the 2014 Cowboys). From 2016 until now, I didn’t think the defense could get back to dominant form, so I’ve been wanting them to upgrade the OL and run game. (Well, I had other reasons, but it was a viable path to the Super Bowl, in my view.)

        1. I think the basic disagreement boils down to one big thing at least to me, and that’s how unstoppable the Rams offense is. I agree with everything you said, if I believed there is no way the Cowboys could stop the Rams, or there isn’t an expectation that I should have that the Cowboy defense could slow down the Rams. Because that’s how it was in 2014. I didn’t have much expectation on how the Cowboys could stop anyone consistently. I just don’t think the Rams offense is that good. Definitely not the running team they were against the Cowboys. The Cowboys did a good if not very good job of containing the Rams’ passing game, especially if you compare them to what the Rams were doing early on this year. But to consistently get gashed on the ground from start to finish, I didn’t expect that at all. And maybe my expectation was wrong, but I didn’t hear one pundit especially from the Cowboy’s insiders say anything much different. In fact a lot of them pointed out how they thought the Cowboy’s offense held up their side and pointing out how they almost doubled the Patriot point output.

          1. I think the basic disagreement boils down to one big thing at least to me, and that’s how unstoppable the Rams offense is.

            Wait, just to be clear–do you agree that an offense can have a really huge impact on the quality of their defense, based on the quality of the offense’s ball control–generally speaking?

            If so, then you’re only disagreeing with me about the specific Cowboys-Rams game?

            But to consistently get gashed on the ground from start to finish, I didn’t expect that at all.

            But were these expectations based on your impression that the Rams just weren’t that great of a running offense? Or were your expectations based on the fact that the Rams seems to have a stronger preference towards passing?

            Given what I’ve seen from the Rams, I thought they could run the ball well–if they chose to do so–but they almost always seemed to prefer passing, with the running thrown in to keep the defense honest. If the OL run-blocked in the way that I saw for most of the season, I would think they could run on anyone. (At their best the Rams OL was dominant in pass pro and run blocking, in the 2014-2015 Cowboys ballpark.)

            The Cowboys defense was good, but they were inconsistent. They didn’t look so hot against the Titans and the Colts. Because I didn’t think it was too surprising the Rams did this. What’s more surprising is that McVey was willing to run as much as he did.

            In fact a lot of them pointed out how they thought the Cowboy’s offense held up their side and pointing out how they almost doubled the Patriot point output.

            It sounds like these pundits are mainly thinking of offense in terms of scoring, but we should really think offenses in two domains–scoring and ball control. The Patriots offense scored only 3 points by half time, but they dominated the Rams in terms of plays and TOP. If the Patriots did this, but were down by 10, I’d rather be the Patriots.

            The points or lack thereof in the first half is not the way I’m evaluating the Cowboy offense–it’s the number of plays they ran, how much time they consumed–they’re ability to extend drives. Again, maybe I’m putting too much emphasis on ball control, but I think had the Cowboys offense controlled the ball better, it would have been entirely different game in the second half.

          2. But a huge reason the Pats dominated TOP is because their defense kept stopping the Rams. It’s not like the Pats offense was playing that well. I’ve had yet to hear a pundit talk about how well the Pats were doing offensively and I’m going to guess very few would think their offense was more effective than the Cowboy offfense.

  10. I didn’t think this was an exciting game but it wasn’t boring. I enjoyed it. Granted, I was more interested in a Patriots win than a good, competitive game, but we were watching two of the four best teams in the NFL all season meet for the title. As a final chapter to one of the more interesting seasons in a few years, it was interesting just for that.

    The fact that it was a 3-point game most of the way added to my interest. It meant that one busted play or one freaky turnover or one punt return could be the difference. Sure, that’s not how we like a game to be decided, but it does add some drama.

    Brady was confused, at least according to Romo, who said it multiple times. He said the Rams D was showing zone but playing man, or the opposite, and Brady wasn’t getting his reads right. I can’t be the only one who finds that interesting. You’d think Brady’s seen everything, but here was a defense that confused him. That was cool!

    I also thought the Patriots LBs played a heck of a game, which I didn’t hear many people saying.

    Although both offenses seemed to be off, I give a lot of credit to good plays by DBs on both sides. Coverage didn’t look great to me, but both teams broke up a lot of would-be receptions, either hitting the ball or disrupting the catch. There were no pass interference calls all game, something that I think added to the appearance of bad offense.

    And yet it was still fun to watch Edelman get open (and even get some nice yards after the catch) and to see Brady throw to the holes for Gronkowski, especially in the second half.

    All this is to say no: I didn’t think the game was boring, although I do understand why others might have. Also, I didn’t watch very much football this season, one game a week most of the time (probably why my fantasy team sucked this year), so I really enjoyed pretty much all the football I did watch. I love this game.

    I’m biased of course, but the Raiders’ victory over Washington is one of my favorite defensive performances. It gets my initial vote. The Raiders scored 5 TDs, but one was a defensive interception (Jack Squirek!) and one, the first score of the game, was on a special teams fumble recovery. Washington ran 32 times for 90 yards and Theismann was sacked 6 times for 50 yards. His passing numbers were decent (16 for 35, 243 yds, 2 INTs) for the time, though, so maybe the Raiders weren’t as dominant as I remember, but that game was never in question.

    1. The fact that it was a 3-point game most of the way added to my interest. It meant that one busted play or one freaky turnover or one punt return could be the difference.

      This is a good point. Generally, if games are close, fans tend to like the game. (To me I can more about the performance than the closeness of the score, but my sense is I’m a weirdo in that regard.)

      Also, I didn’t watch very much football this season, one game a week most of the time (probably why my fantasy team sucked this year), so I really enjoyed pretty much all the football I did watch. I love this game.

      If you watched a lot of games, and you concluded that the teams were really inconsistent and even mediocre, what kind of impact would that have on your enjoyment? I’m curious because it has a big impact on me, but it seems like it doesn’t with most fans.

      I’m biased of course, but the Raiders’ victory over Washington is one of my favorite defensive performances.

      Even though I’m biased, too, this is way up there for me. But this is based on my memory and understanding of the game at the time. I believe the Redskins had the best offense that year (at least in several statistical categories) and the Raiders dominated them. My guess is that the stats are totally misleading. When there’s a blow out by half, a lot of times defenses can allow yards in exchange for running the clock. I’m not sure if that’s what happened, but that’s my guess.

      A part of me wants to pick this performance above the 2013 Super Bowl because I would think the Redskins were a good running team as well. My point is that great passing offenses have often by stymied or shutdown in Super Bowls, but the same happening to a really great rushing offense seems a lot rarer. (One exception that comes to mind: I thought the Steelers defense was shutting down the Cowboy offense in that Super Bowl in the 90s. If O’Donnell wasn’t so horrid, the Steelers might have won that one. Then again, I wouldn’t say the Steelers defense dominated the Cowboys offense, so I guess this is not really an example of that.)

  11. Don,

    But a huge reason the Pats dominated TOP is because their defense kept stopping the Rams.

    That’s definitely a factor, but you also have to look at what the Pats offense did every time they got the ball. Here’s a list of the possessions:

    1: 4 plays, 2:41 (ending in INT)
    2: 12 plays, 6:16 (missed FG)
    3: 8 plays, 3:07 (punt)
    4: 6 plays, 3:25 (FG?)
    5: 3 plays, 1:26 (punt)
    6: 9 plays, 2:41 (punt?)

    42 plays by the half with the breaking point at 65.

    It’s not like the Pats offense was playing that well. I’ve had yet to hear a pundit talk about how well the Pats were doing offensively…

    But again, is this happening because pundits only evaluate offenses in terms of scoring (and maybe yards), and don’t fully appreciate the value of ball control? My sense is that a lot of pundits don’t fully appreciate or value ball control. Or I’m just over-valuing ball control.

    1. So your contention it was mostly the Cowboy offense that cost them the game against the Rams and it was mostly the Pats offense that won them the Super Bowl. If you could give a percentage just between the offense and the defense, what percentage would you give the Cowboy and Pat’s offense in terms of losing and winning respectively. Like 80% the fault of the Cowboy offense and 20% the defense? Was there any team in the playoffs that lost and it had to do more with their defense than their offense? How about the Chargers against the Pats? Still mostly their offense for not sustaining drives?

      1. So your contention it was mostly the Cowboy offense that cost them the game against the Rams and it was mostly the Pats offense that won them the Super Bowl.

        You said the Patriot dominated TOP because the Patriot defense “kept stopping the Rams”–which sounded like you were giving all or most of the credit to the Patriot defense for the Patriot dominance in TOP and offensive snaps. My point is that the Patriots offense should be credited for this as well–I’m not saying the Patriot offense deserves most of the credit for the Super Bowl victory.

        If you could give a percentage just between the offense and the defense, what percentage would you give the Cowboy and Pat’s offense in terms of losing and winning respectively.

        For the Cowboys loss, I’d say something like 65% the fault of the offense, 35% of the defense. For the Patriots’ win, I’d give more credit to the defense–70% defense and 30% offense….I think this is hard to answer with precision. How much of the Patriots defense depended on the players and the coaching and how much depended on the ball control of the Patriot offense? How much did the coaching and players of the Cowboy defense–and the quality of the Rams offense–affect the defensive performance versus the lack of ball control by the Cowboys in the first half?

        Was there any team in the playoffs that lost and it had to do more with their defense than their offense?

        Before I try to answer this, let me say a few criteria I have in mind when I tend to put more of the blame on the offense, even if the defense didn’t do so well:

        1. Did the offense really struggle to control the ball (e.g., run a lot of plays, eat up clock), especially in the first half of the game?

        2. Was the offensive opponent really good–the degree that even a good defense would struggle to stop them–in terms of ball control, scoring or both? (I would also add that if the opposing offense was really good physical ball control, #1 would be even more egregious.)

        3. Was the defense not very strong?

        If all three conditions are met, I think I tend to blame the offense more, even if the defense doesn’t perform well.

        How about the Chargers against the Pats? Still mostly their offense for not sustaining drives?

        With that, I’m pointing to the offense. My thinking: If your opponent’s offense keeps having long drives, clock-eating drives, I feel it’s critical that your offense has similar drives, or at least avoid a lot of short drives. If the offense has a lot of short possessions. I’m blaming the offense–and this is even if the offense scores. In order for the offense to absolve themselves of this blame, they would have to score a lot of TDs, which is not likely since the opposing offense, by controlling the ball, will keep the possessions down.

        As for the other games, I’m not sure if there are any. Off the top off my head, here are some conditions where I’d blame the defense more:

        1. The offense does a decent job of controlling the ball (and scoring);
        2. The opposing offense isn’t that great;
        3. The defense makes many boneheaded plays–e.g., silly penalties, missed tackles, blown coverages, etc.

        If the offense does a solid job in terms of ball control and scoring, and the defense makes mistakes or fails in a handful of critical plays, I could also see myself blaming the defense.

        I’m trying to think where I’d stand on the Chiefs-Patriots, Eagles-Saints, Rams-Saints, and Bears-Eagles.

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