For awhile there, it seemed like we were living in the golden age of football. Since 2003, nearly every Super Bowl has been a certifiably exciting game, as FiveThirtyEight found, with a little number crunching. Remember, for example, the New England Patriots' insane 28-3 comeback against the Atlanta Falcons in 2017? Or the nail-biter ending to the game between the Pats and Seattle Seahawks in 2014?
Well, Super Bowl LIII on Sunday ... wasn't that. What few heart-racing moments there were during the Patriots' 13-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams, we've listed below.
1. When the coin was tossed.
Every Super Bowl is still exciting at the point of the coin toss. No matter what the odds, before the kickoff it is anyone's game. When the Rams won the coin toss on Sunday and deferred, people still believed that this could be "another classic" match between two great teams.
Oh, how young and naïve we were.
2. When Tom Brady's pass attempt resulted in an interception.
— Kenneth P. Vogel (@kenvogel) February 3, 2019
Rams linebacker Cory Littleton intercepted Tom Brady's first throw of the evening, giving everyone everywhere a little bit of hope that the game might not actually result in a Patriots win. Maybe expert predictions had all been wrong! Maybe 41 really was too old to still be a great quarterback!
3. When an officiating issue confused even the announcers.
It's always fun when the people who are supposed to be telling you what's going on are as confused as you are. That happened Sunday when the Rams' Nickell Robey-Coleman was dinged with a personal foul for a "hit on a defenseless runner" in the waning minutes of the first quarter.
The flag resulted in a lot of "wait, what's happening?" questions, including by CBS's broadcast team. The consensus in most homes and bars was that it was a case of bad officiating. Some went as far as to dub it a "makeup call" for the flagrant no-call that landed the Rams their spot in the Super Bowl in the first place.
4. When Brady was sacked.
it does my heart good to see tom brady sacked. it's just good for the soul.
— Esoteric Jeff (@EsotericCD) February 4, 2019
In what could be considered the last good moment of Super Bowl LIII, Brady was sacked. It was the first time he'd been sacked in the entire 2019 postseason.
5. When someone finally, blessedly put points on the board.
— Sports Daily (@SportsDGI) February 4, 2019
With just over 10 minutes left in the first half, the Patriots' Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 42-yard field goal to ensure the Super Bowl didn't go into halftime scoreless. CBS's announcer Tony Romo cheerfully informed everyone that "if you like offensive football, well too bad."
6. When Adam Levine took his shirt off.
This year's Super Bowl halftime show was one of the dullest in recent memory, but at least when Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine took his shirt off, you could make a game out of trying to read what was tattooed on his stomach.
7. When people got mad about Adam Levine taking his shirt off.
On the other hand, maybe it would have been better if he'd just kept it on.
8. When Patrick Chung had to leave the game (but could still contribute fist-pumps on the sidelines).
Patrick Chung, injured, celebrates the first down run pic.twitter.com/oMCEfdc3J8
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) February 4, 2019
Patriots safety Patrick Chung was taken off the field in an air cast after the Rams' opening drive in the second half, providing a morbid bit of excitement after a dismal first half and lackluster halftime show. While Chung was out for the remainder of the game, he stuck around on the sidelines celebrating his team's victories with his lone uninjured limb. As Romo observed after an impressive run by Rex Burkhead later in the game, "Patrick Chung likes it with his one good arm."
9. When Johnny Hekker set a punt record.
There is something deeply depressing about the most exciting part of Super Bowl LIII possibly being a punt record, but here we are. The Rams' Johnny Hekker made Super Bowl history with his 65-yard kick, prompting the announcers to muster up the energy to suggest that the game was "getting exciting now!"
10. When Greg the Leg tied up the game.
The Rams' Greg Zuerlein kicked a game-tying 53-yard field goal, with Romo trumpeting that "we've got points!" Then everyone quietly settled back into the realization that maybe the game would go into overtime and never end.
11. When there was finally a touchdown!
When there's finally a touchdown but it's the Patriots. pic.twitter.com/fqwbQvQo8k
— pourmecoffee (@pourmecoffee) February 4, 2019
The only touchdown the entire game came with just seven minutes left in the second half, when the Patriots' Sony Michel blasted into the Rams' end zone in a two-yard rush. The excitement was so welcome after a stubbornly low-score game that you almost didn't care that it was the Patriots who ended the longest Super Bowl touchdown drought in NFL history.
12. When the Patriots intercepted the Rams.
— NFL (@NFL) February 4, 2019
Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore intercepted the Rams' Jared Goff as Los Angeles desperately tried to catch up after falling behind 10-3. It more or less sealed the game with just 4:17 left on the clock.
13. When it ended and we all got to go to bed.
Perhaps the most exciting part of Super Bowl LIII was when it put us all out of our misery by ending. Pats coach Bill Belichick got his shiny new trophy. Owner Robert Kraft got a new ring he can lose to Vladimir Putin. Brady got a new postgame interview. And us? What did we get for those three and a half hours paid at the altar of the football gods?
We finally got to turn off the TV.