2019 Super Bowl Preview
February 3, 2019
A lot is happening in this year’s highly touted Super Bowl matchup between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams. From six rings to “Sweet Victory”, the Panther has got you covered on what is going down in the big game this year.
After their best season since 2001, the Los Angeles Rams will be appearing in their fourth Super Bowl in franchise history. Ironically, the Rams lost to the Patriots in the 2001 Super Bowl, who they will be facing once again.
Some fans see their Super Bowl appearance as tainted due to a missed call at the end of their NFC Championship matchup against the Saints. In the final minutes of the fourth quarter, Saints quarterback Drew Brees threw a deep pass to his receiver, Tommylee Lewis, but Lewis was hit by Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman in what appeared to be blatant pass interference. The referees did not call the foul, which forced the Saints to kick a field goal, allowing the Rams to tie the game with a field goal of their own and win the game in overtime. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell would acknowledge the missed call 10 days later, which was met with disappointment from several Saints players and fans alike.
The Rams have been lead by a stellar season from running back Todd Gurley. Gurley led the NFL with 17 rushing touchdowns while chipping in 1,251 rushing yards, the third most in the league. Despite having a strong season, Gurley struggled in the NFC Championship, with only 10 yards on four rushing attempts. Gurley will be looking to bounce back against the Patriots, who he also struggled against in their regular season meeting almost two months ago; Gurley rushed for 38 yards on 11 attempts.
The Rams have also seen several strong showings from backup running back CJ Anderson. After being picked up by the Rams when he was cut by the Oakland Raiders, Anderson racked up 299 yards in only two regular season games, as well as chipping in 123 yards and two touchdowns in the Rams’ Divisional Round win against the Dallas Cowboys. Sports Illustrated reports that Anderson and Gurley will likely split carries against the Patriots.
Rams quarterback Jared Goff also had an impressive season, throwing for 32 touchdowns and 12 interceptions while completing 64.9 percent of his passes. Goff also threw for 4,688 yards, the fourth most in the NFL this year. Goff was recently named to his second career Pro Bowl this year alongside Gurley.
Meanwhile, the Patriots are back for their ninth super bowl since 2001. Despite posting their worst record since 2009, the Patriots managed to secure the second seed in the AFC and defeated NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship game. New England will be playing in their third straight Super Bowl after coming back from a 28-3 lead against the Atlanta Falcons to win Super Bowl 51 and falling to the Philadelphia Eagles in a high scoring Super Bowl 52.
The Patriots are led by quarterback Tom Brady, who is still competing at an elite level at age 41. Brady has led the Patriots to five Super Bowl wins, winning four Super Bowl MVPs himself. If Brady were to win his sixth championship, he would have the most Super Bowl wins of any NFL player ever. Despite his aging, Brady has shown little signs of slowing down, throwing for 29 touchdowns and 4,355 yards this past season. Brady has stated that he has no intentions of retiring after this season.
Although Brady has plenty of help on offense from players such as running back James White (who has 12 total touchdowns this season) and wide receiver Julian Edelman (who leads the Patriots with 850 receiving yards), tight end Rob Gronkowski has struggled so far this season. Gronkowski was considered to be the best tight end in the NFL a few seasons ago, but only scored three touchdowns this year, tied for the lowest in his career. Gronkowski has also only put up 682 receiving yards, a severe drop from his 1,084 receiving yards last season.
While the game will be sure to entertain football fans watching the game, some choose to watch the Super Bowl for other reasons, such as the commercials and the halftime show. This year’s halftime show came with controversy, as several artists turned down the opportunity to perform to support former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s protests against the NFL. Kaepernick kneeled during the National Anthem during the 2016 season and has not played in the NFL since then.
Eventually, Maroon 5 agreed to perform in the halftime show alongside Travis Scott and Big Boi, which angered some fans. A petition for Maroon 5 to drop out of the Super Bowl reached over 115,000 signatures. While this petition ultimately did not succeed, one petition for the halftime show did.
Another petition was formed to get the NFL to have the song “Sweet Victory” from Spongebob performed during the halftime show in memory of Spongebob creator Stephen Hillenburg. Hillenburg passed away on Nov. 26, 2018 after a battle with ALS, and the petition was formed shortly after. In the episode “Band Geeks”, Squidward forms a band to perform during a football game halftime show; the band performs the song “Sweet Victory”, which became well known among fans of the show. The petition reached over 1,200,000 signatures, and according to Yahoo! Sports, Maroon 5 plans to include the song in their halftime performance.
This year’s Super Bowl will have a little bit of fun for everyone, whether you are watching for the sports, the entertainment or the laughs. Soon enough, it will be over and we will have to wait six months before we see more NFL action, so enjoy the game while you can.