If someone erased my memory, turned on last night's game and magically removed any mention of "Super Bowl LIII" from the broadcast, I would have thought I was watching a random Thursday Night Football game in October.
- And look, maybe it was me. I just moved into a new apartment, so I watched amongst a pile of boxes next to a mattress that's sitting on the floor. Also, despite living here for 4 years now, I still can't get over the Super Bowl starting at 3:30 pm on the West Coast. So maybe that's why the energy felt ... weird.
- But chances are, it was the game, which was the lowest-scoring affair in Super Bowl history (16 total points). The Rams had more punts than completions at halftime. Even the commercials were bad.
Last night was supposed to be an epic battle between offensive wunderkind Sean McVay and evil genius in a hoodie Bill Belichick. Instead, it was so boring it was borderline hard to watch. Via the NYT:
- "'It's getting exciting now,' Jim Nantz of CBS said in mock excitement in the second half of the Super Bowl on Sunday night. He was talking about a punt."
- "Rams punter Johnny Hekker's 65-yard roller set the record for longest Super Bowl punt, and through three quarters, with a score of a 3-3, it truly was the most exciting play."
- "Nantz's CBS broadcast partner, Tony Romo had been the subject of much news coverage leading up to Sunday ... for the infectious enthusiasm he brings to his work."
- "But by the time of Hekker's punt almost halfway through the third quarter, the game's dullness seemed to have broken even him. 'This is hard to watch,' Romo said. 'I mean, this is how many punts in a row?'"
The big picture: At first, I was frustrated that such a highly-anticipated game had delivered such little excitement (at least for me, a neutral observer). But I'm a glass half full kind of guy, so here's my slightly more positive spin:
- Instead of feeling frustrated that the Super Bowl was boring, we should be thanking our lucky stars that more Super Bowls aren't boring.
- Other major championships like the World Series, NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Finals feature snoozefests all the time, but they all have the benefit of playing a full series.
- Thus, it's only logical that some Super Bowls end up being boring, especially when you consider that a winning football team's entire strategy is to play slowly and run out the clock.
And yet: For much of the 21st century, we have somehow avoided this reality. To use the Patriots as an example, look at the final score of every Super Bowl they've played in:
- 2019: Patriots 13, Rams 3
- 2018: Eagles 41, Patriots 33
- 2017: Patriots 34, Falcons 28 (OT)
- 2015: Patriots 28, Seahawks 24
- 2012: Giants 21, Patriots 17
- 2008: Giants 17, Patriots 14
- 2005: Patriots 24, Eagles 21
- 2004: Patriots 32, Panthers 29
- 2002: Patriots 20, Rams 17
Translation: New England has played in 9 of the 20 Super Bowls this century, and last night was the only game that was decided by more than 1 score. That's insane.
The bottom line: We've been spoiled and led to believe that the Super Bowl is a magical event guaranteed to produce epic moments and have us on the edge of our seats. But really, it's just a football game — and Tom Brady and Bill Belichick typically win such contests.