Patriots coach Bill Belichick on the sidelines during Super Bowl LIII on Feb. 3, 2019, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

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Keidel: This Patriots Super Bowl Win Was All Belichick

Preparation Made Up For Brady's Pedestrian Showing

Jason Keidel
February 04, 2019 - 10:24 am
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He's the ornery ogre with the hobo chic wardrobe, who moans his way through the questions and belches ancient bromides in every interview. He's always "on to Cincinnati." The only two topics that get a rise out of him are meteorologists and Lawrence Taylor. A man can't try any harder to be detached and disliked from anyone who doesn't wear his team's colors. 

But Bill Belichick is now the only head coach with six Super Bowl rings. While most viewers of Super Bowl LIII lamented the plodding, soporific play in the Patriots' 13-3 win over the Rams, it was classic Belichick. 

It's easy to love Tom Brady and loathe his coach, and this Super Bowl win over the loaded Rams had all the hallmarks of coaching at its apex. 

We're so used to spinning some legendary tale about Brady's big-game prowess, yet he didn't toss a single TD pass. In fact, Brady's first pass of the game was intercepted. 

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Brady may have helped seal the game by leading the team downfield for its only touchdown, but it was Belichick who kept the Pats in the game. Belichick's defensive wizardry was never on more HD display than Sunday. He held the two most prolific offenses on the planet (Chiefs and Rams) scoreless for the first halves of the AFC championship game and Super Bowl.

Belichick finally met a defensive coordinator with even more experience and did just enough tweaking to nudge past the sagacious Wade Phillips. While Brady was being blunted by the Rams star-laden defense, Belichick held the nuclear Rams to 29 yards of offense, including a paltry 17 yards passing. 

By halftime, Brady still had no groove, and the Pats entered the locker room with a 3-0 lead, thanks to Belichick baffling Rams QB Jared Goff and forcing Los Angeles to punt on all six first-half possessions while managing just two first downs.

In the third quarter, the Rams finally short-circuited the scoreboard with three points, tying the game on the bionic leg of Greg Zuerlein, a long kick necessitated by a 9-yard sack on third down.

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In the fourth quarter, the Pats finally put up some points, thanks to Brady's precision passing, the sneaky speed and Spider-Man hands of Julian Edelman and a clutch pass to Rob Gronkowski for the game's only touchdown. A late-game field goal, secured largely by running the ball, stretched New England's lead to 13-3.  

In all, Brady was atypically pedestrian (21-of-35 for 262 yards with no touchdowns and an interception), unable to thwart Phillips' shape-shifting defenses. He was 16-of-19 when targeting Gronkowski and Edelman, but a woeful 5-of-16 when passing to anyone else. But Brady didn't have to be Brady, because we all got schooled on great coaching by the man who loves his team but hates to talk about it. 

Not to mention, Belichick stymied the volcanic Rams' offense in the second half without one of his best defenders, Patrick Chung. They still thwarted Goff all game, with the Rams' quarterback finishing with 229 yards and one interception. The vaunted Rams rushing game, the two-pronged attack of Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson, was held to 62 yards. 

With all of Brady's historical splendor, he didn't hold Todd Gurley to 35 yards, didn't keep Anderson out of the end zone or trick Goff into heaving that game-altering pick with over four minutes left. That was all Belichick. Brandin Cooks got some garbage catches at the end of the game to finish with 120 yards receiving. But Brady didn't hold Robert Woods and Josh Reynolds to 98 yards combined. That was all Belichick. Brady is not the reason the Pats' defense got flagged just once all game. That was all Belichick. 

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You can give the taller, slicker man with the constant 5 o'clock shadow and soap opera cheekbones all the attention you want. But TB12 did not win this game. It was the tough, gruff coach who was painting defensive masterpieces the year Rams coach Sean McVay was born (1986). For the game, the Rams' offense averaged five plays per drive for 19.2 yards. Of their 60 plays, 27 of them (45 percent) gained zero or negative yards. That was all Belichick. 

Brady gets the love, Edelman gets the Super Bowl MVP award, but the Patriots' defense kept them in the game all game, fooling and schooling some absurdly gifted players. That was all Belichick. This may be Brady's world, but Super Bowl LIII was Belichick's game. 

Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel.