The New England Patriots defeated the Los Angeles Rams 13-3 in Super Bowl LIII. Much of the focus, appropriately and deservedly so, has been on the second of those two numbers, but that obscures that Los Angeles also put together a historic Super Bowl performance, just in a losing effort. New England dropped 41 points on the LA Chargers and 37 (31 in regulation) on Kansas City in the AFC playoffs, then was held to roughly a third of that against the Rams.
How the Rams did that is the focus of Andy Benoit’s piece for Sports Illustrated but, as with any piece on the Super Bowl loser, it also touches on the aftermath of recovering from losing the biggest game in North American sports. Head coach Sean McVay’s regret, it turns out, was watching too much film:
“In the back of my mind, [when making the Super Bowl game plan back in L.A.], I operated knowing I had another week. That urgency to completely finalize the gameplan wasn’t quite there, and that led to me watching so much film that you can almost water down your thought process.”
A coach’s instinct, he explains, is to want to do as much work as possible. But before the Super Bowl, McVay admits that “you have so much time that you can over-prepare and get away from some of the things that helped you get there. I watched every game from New England’s season. You see stuff that worked in, say, Week 3, but you forget about the amount of stuff that’s taken place since Week 3. You can watch so much film that you lose perspective. You have 18 games of film you can pore over. And then I even watched the Philly and Atlanta Super Bowls closely.” A hint of disgust leaks into his voice as he says this last part, shaking his head.
It’s a funny thing, one of the most challenging aspects of playing in the Super Bowl is the game itself — the two-week gap between the conference title games and the Big Game, and the week you spend on-site, biding your time until Sunday. That’s time that must be filled and, as a head coach, you can seek advice on the best way to fill that time, but it’s something you can really only know how to do once you’ve already done it.
And it seems McVay got caught in the chasm between over-preparing and under-preparing, more caught up in what worked against the Patriots and less concerned with what his team could execute.
The result, well, the result was that the Rams scored a season-low three points.
Benoit’s piece delves into the schematic adjustments the Patriots’ offense made that put the Rams’ defense off kilter, and it’s really worth your time.