On Feb. 3, 2002, a second-year quarterback by the name of Tom Brady found himself thrust onto the world’s stage as an underdog against the league-leading St. Louis Rams; the “greatest show on turf” versus the league’s leading defense. Despite the Rams being a fourteen-point favorite, with the league’s most high powered offense, the New England Patriots handled their business and won their first Super Bowl title in franchise history. 17 years later, to the exact day, Tom Brady found himself in a peculiarly similar situation – going to the Super Bowl as an ‘underdog’ against what most would say is the second coming of the greatest show on turf, led by the hot new coach-quarterback tandem of Sean McVay and Jared Goff. The second time around, like before, the Patriots stuck to their guns and pulled out another Super Bowl win. The only difference this time – it was their sixth in a span of seventeen years and set a multitude of records in its wake.
What was predicted to be a record-setting, high octane score fest, with most predictions gauging both teams scoring in the 20-30 point range, ended up delivering – but in opposite ways. The final score, Patriots 13 – 3 Rams, set the record for being the lowest scoring Super Bowl in NFL history. (Note: the Rams offense during the regular season had averaged 32.9 points per game. In this game, they scored three.) The Patriots’ 13 points were the fewest scored by a winning team in Super Bowl history, as well as the teams’ combined six points through three quarters. With Tom Brady being at the helm for all six of the Patriots Super Bowl wins, Sunday’s win makes him the only individual player in NFL history to have won six Super Bowls.
In addition to the game being a let-down for many viewers, there was also another aspect, while usually a major highlight, also proved to be disappointing for those watching: the halftime show. For those unaware, the creator of the Nickelodeon show, SpongeBob SquarePants, Stephen Hillenburg, had died last November at the age of 57 from ALS. As a result, fans had petitioned and consequently teased, with a performance of the song “Sweet Victory” from one of the show’s most iconic episodes, “Band Geeks.” However, when the time came, fans who tuned in specifically to see this were presented with a newly-animated snippet of Squidward talking, then played all of five seconds of the original episode, only to use it as a cue for Travis Scott to come on stage to perform his part of the set, headlined by Maroon 5, himself, and fellow rapper Big Boi.
Although the game and halftime show might not have been the most riveting things as expected, the myriad of commercials provided by various companies helped give an opportunity to fans to stay tuned in for the entirety of the game. Some notable highlights were Burger King’s revival of a 1982 film snippet of Andy Warhol eating a Whopper with the tagline, “Eat Like Andy,” Olay’s mesh of the horror genre with skin care in the “Killer Skin” ad, M&M’s “Bad Passengers” ad, with Christina Applegate driving a van with M&M candies/”passengers” meshed together into the company’s new chocolate bar, Walmart’s “Famous Cars” ad, which brought in many iconic vehicles among pop culture to advertise their new pickup grocery store, and Michelob Ultra’s reminder that although robots may be superior to humans, and can now do much of what we can do, they still can’t enjoy beer as we do.
Although this year’s Super Bowl was, in many aspects, far less than all the hype had led to anticipate, there are still some things certain fans can rejoice in. Tom Brady isn’t going to retire anytime soon, the Patriots’ dynasty still stands strong despite the predictions of many. And although the Rams lost this one, the amount of potential this new squad has is mirroring of that of the 2002 Patriots.