Rethinking the Super Bowl LIII MVP

For the sixth time in franchise history, the New England Patriots are champions of the NFL after their 13-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII.

While Patriot fans of all ages will remember this victory for the rest of their lives, football fans everywhere else would prefer to forget what is being called one of the worst Super Bowls of all-time.

The game was extremely uneventful, and while I can appreciate great defensive performances, the lack of offense from two offensive powerhouses was mind-boggling. It was getting to the point where either team’s punter could’ve received strong consideration for the game’s MVP.

Speaking of the Super Bowl MVP, that honor went to Patriots’ wide receiver Julian Edelman, who turned in the game’s only strong offensive performance. Edelman was masterful, catching 10 of his 12 targets for 141 yards, and converting numerous drive-extending first downs. The Rams’ defense had no answer for the savvy veteran.

On paper, Edelman’s numbers made him the obvious choice for the game’s MVP; however, after watching the game from start to finish, I sat and wondered if he was truly deserving of the honor. And no, it’s NOT because of his PED suspension.

While Edelman’s performance in the big game was excellent and his numbers were eye-popping, it can be argued that his stats didn’t necessarily translate to points on the scoreboard. I get that he can’t do it all, but the impact you have on the scoreboard is one of the most important factors. Just look at Danny Amendola.

On the first two (out of three) scoring drives, Edelman caught three passes for 44 yards, two of which went for first downs. Sure, converting first downs and helping the Patriots control the game clock is important, but is that what we’re basing an MVP award off of nowadays?

The second scoring drive, which resulted in a Sony Michel touchdown, was particularly intriguing. During this drive, Edelman only had one catch, but the real star was Rob Gronkowski, who had two big catches, which included a spectacular grab that put the Patriots at the one-yard line. This set the stage for Michel to run it in and give New England the lead (and ultimately the win).

This catch was easily bigger than any other catch in the game. Bigger than any of Edelman’s. In fact, if Gronk scores on that play, we’re probably talking about him being the MVP of this game. I know that hindsight is 20/20, but still.

So with all of that being said, you’re probably wondering, “Well if Edelman isn’t the MVP, who is?”

The easiest answer to that question would be the Patriots defense. Seriously, that entire unit is deserving of the honor after turning in one of the most dominating defensive performances in Super Bowl history. A performance that rivals that of the 1985 Bears, the 2000 Ravens, and the 2015 Broncos.

The Rams were an offensive juggernaut this season and Sean McVay was seen as a playcalling prodigy that everyone in the league wanted to emulate. Despite all of this, the young head coach was taken to school by the great Bill Belichick, whose defense demolished Jared Goff and the once-formidable Los Angeles offense.

Obviously, the NFL isn’t going to name an entire defense the MVP of a game. However, during this game, three players on the Patriots defense stood out in particular, and any of the three would have been excellent choices for MVP:

Stephon Gilmore

The All-Pro cornerback certainly lived up to the hype on the NFL’s biggest stage, tallying five tackles, three pass deflections, one interception, and a forced fumble, all while providing the same lockdown coverage that he provided all season.

Gilmore’s interception with just over four minutes left in the fourth quarter ultimately proved to be the game-winner for the Patriots, as they would kick an insurance field goal on the ensuing drive while killing most of the remaining time. With a performance as dominance at this, it was a little surprising to see Gilmore not honored as the MVP.

Dont’a Hightower or Kyle Van Noy

As far as the MVP is concerned, if not Stephon Gilmore, it was a toss-up between these two receiving the honor.

Both players were nightmares for Jared Goff, constantly pressuring and hitting him throughout the night, combining for three sacks. Thanks in large part to these two, Goff was never able to get comfortable in the pocket and the Rams high-flying offense suffered tremendously for it.

No one can ever take away the brilliant performance Edelman had in Super Bowl LIII, but because it was during one of the worst games in recent history from an offensive standpoint, is it really fair to call him the game’s MVP? After witnessing one of the strongest defensive performances in Super Bowl history, I can’t say that it is.


Photo: Ryan Sheehan/WTP Sports

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One comment on “Rethinking the Super Bowl LIII MVP”
  1. Matthew Slater. Those downed punts and a couple of key special team tackles were huge.

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