ATLANTA — For five plays — a total of 2 minutes, 49 seconds in game time — Tom Brady looked like Tom Brady and the Patriots’ offense looked like the one that cruised up and down the field for most of the season.
Turns out, that’s all they needed.
On a day that knocked two of the NFL’s highest-flying scoring machines back into the 1970s — or ’50s — Brady mustered one good drive when it mattered in Super Bowl LIII.
He went 4-for-4, including a perfect teardrop nestled into the hands of Rob Gronkowski , to set up the game’s only touchdown on the way to a 13-3 victory over the Rams.
New England won its record-tying sixth Super Bowl title. Brady became the first player to win six rings. All on the strength of one measly touchdown — in the lowest-scoring Super Bowl ever.
“We could’ve played better offensively,” Brady said, “but the reality is, you get into these games and you just need to figure out a way to win it.”
Make no mistake — they won it with defense. And kicking. And Julian Edelman, the receiver who found gaps in the Los Angeles zone and caught a game-high 10 passes for 141 yards. He was voted Most Valuable Player.
Photo: Patrick Smith / Getty Images
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Brady, who has won that award four times, was fine — but nothing more — until the drive that began with 9:49 remaining, with the score 3-3 in the first Super Bowl to go three quarters without a touchdown.
He hit Gronkowski for 18 yards, found Edelman in the zone for 13. He threw a dump-off pass to Rex Burkhead for 7. Then, the best pass of the day — the 29-yard completion to Gronkowski, who was double-covered and had Rams linebacker Cory Littleton practically dragging him to the ground as he made the catch.
“Tom threw it to me and I had to make a play,” Gronkowski said. “I just come through whenever it’s that time. He knows to trust in me.”
Sony Michel took the handoff on the next play for a 2-yard score. Anyone who had tuned in for only that drive might have wondered what all the fuss — and all the yawning — was about.
For anyone outside of linebackers, defensive coordinators and people who bet the under (56½ points), this was ugly.
Brady and the Patriots looked nothing like the team that averaged more than 27 points a game this season, that put up 37 points against the Chiefs in the AFC title game, that didn’t allow a sack — and barely allowed Brady to be touched — in the two playoff games leading to the trip to Atlanta.
And it was a far cry from two years ago, when the Patriots scored 31 points in the second half for a 34-28 come-from-behind win over Atlanta and title No. 5. Or even last year, when they moved up and down the field with the Eagles, but lost 41-33.
“We couldn’t get points on the board for one reason or another,” Brady said, “but in the end, it feels a lot better than last year, when we did get some points on the board.”
Eddie Pells is an Associated Press writer.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/49ers/article/With-touchdown-drive-Patriots-sport-look-of-13586350.php.