Sean McVay looks to the future after Rams’ ride derails in Super Bowl

Sean McVay has had very few bad days during his two seasons in charge of the Los Angeles Rams. His coaching tenure had been a rocket ride all the way to the Super Bowl.

Until Bill Belichick sent this bright mind and his exciting team plummeting to Earth.

What McVay does about it will determine whether the Rams are still a powerhouse or another NFL contender broken by the Patriots.

After Belichick’s defense turned McVay’s offense into the worst version anyone had ever seen, the Rams’ 33-year-old offensive guru was visibly frustrated and embarrassed.

“The thing that is so tough about all of this is the finality to it,” McVay said Sunday night after his Rams failed to score a touchdown for only the second time in his 36 games in charge. “Usually, if you go through some adversity, you get a chance to bounce back right away. This one is going to stick with you. It just stings in your gut. I’m still kind of numb right now, but I have so much love for these players and these coaches. That’s where it really eats at you, because you feel like you didn’t do your part to help them achieve success.”

McVay coached only the second team in 53 Super Bowls to fail to score a touchdown. The wunderkind’s confidence appeared to be shaken by a New England defense that held the 11th-highest-scoring team in NFL history to 260 total yards, six first downs in the first three quarters and their fewest points in McVay’s era.

“It’s embarrassing,” left tackle Andrew Whitworth said. “It stings to play that way. You’d almost rather score a ton and lose that way, but that would take away from what the defense did. They gave us every opportunity to win.”

McVay thrives on X’s and O’s, and he will have six months to scheme new ways to attack the similar zone defenses used late in the season by Detroit, Chicago and New England to throttle the Rams’ passing game. He also will endeavor to teach Jared Goff to make better decisions under pressure after the Cal alum’s bad game Sunday.

General manager Les Snead has big calls to make on soon-to-be free agents and roster vacancies. The Rams will return with a wealth of talent, but they must determine whether their 4-3 record in their final seven games was a sign of bigger flaws.

Financially speaking, the Rams’ championship window remains wide open for at least one more season before Goff likely gets a significant raise and consumes a larger chunk of their cap space in 2020.

Los Angeles’ unrestricted free agents include defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, safety Lamarcus Joyner, edge rusher Dante Fowler and left guard Rodger Saffold.

Fewer people watch: The competitive but action-starved Super Bowl was seen by 100.7 million people on television and streaming services, the smallest audience for football’s annual spectacle in a decade.

A boycott by disgruntled New Orleans fans, a campaign by fans of quarterback Colin Kaepernick and a game with only one touchdown combined to shrink the audience. On CBS alone, the game was seen by 98.2 million people, compared to 103.4 million who watched on NBC last year, according to the Nielsen company.

Since reaching a peak of 114.4 million viewers for the Patriots’ 2015 victory over the Seattle Seahawks, the Super Bowl audience has slipped each year since then. The Super Bowl is traditionally the most-watched television event of the year in the U.S., and its audience hadn’t dipped below 100 million since the Pittsburgh Steelers-Arizona Cardinals game in 2009.

CBS dealt with a city that held a major grudge. Many fans in New Orleans, where the Saints were victimized by a blown referee’s call toward the end of their loss to the Rams in the NFC Championship Game, skipped the game entirely. Preliminary ratings from New Orleans showed that Super Bowl viewership this year was half what it was in 2018.

There was also a campaign on Twitter by people who said they would not watch the game because of Kaepernick, the former 49ers quarterback who hasn’t been able to land a job in the NFL since leading demonstrations in protest of police treatment of minorities.

Vegas handle down: Regulators say gamblers in Nevada bet less on Super Bowl LIII.

Unaudited tallies released by state gambling regulators show people wagered roughly $145.94 million on the game at Nevada’s 200 sports books. That’s about $12.65 million less than in 2018. But the Nevada Gaming Control Board’s data show sports books made a profit of almost $10.79 million on the action. That’s about nine times what they won last year.

The game between the Patriots and the Rams was the first Super Bowl in which Nevada faced competition from sports books outside the state.

Sports books have opened in seven other states since the U.S. Supreme Court issued a relevant ruling last spring.

New Jersey gambling regulators say their sports books lost $4.6 million on $34.9 million in Super Bowl wagers, the first major sporting event for bettors since sports gambling was legalized in the state last year.

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement said Monday that casinos and horse tracks in the state paid $39.5 million to those who won bets.

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