Super Bowl LIII: “Ball Don’t Lie”


New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady in 2017 (photo by Jeffrey Beall)

Paul McLaughlin, Staff Writer, Sports Editor, & Copy Editor

“Ball don’t lie” is a phrase popularized by former four-time NBA All-Star Rasheed Wallace. It is generally used as a response to a situation in sports, typically basketball, where a team gets a questionable call in their favor but fails to benefit. It is normally used in situations where there is a controversial shooting foul and a player goes to the line just to miss all of their free throws. It is known as some kind of “higher-up” judging the call from “the great karma beyond” and fixing things and making them as they should be. Although the karma behind “ball don’t lie” is normally used for the making of a questionable call, could it be used for lack thereof?

On January 20, in the NFC Conference Championship game where the Los Angeles Rams took on the New Orleans Saints in Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the Rams benefited off of a questionable no-call on a fairly obvious defensive pass interference wherein Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman hit Saints wide receiver Tommylee Lewis helmet-to-helmet before the ball had come anywhere near Lewis. The hit occurred seven yards away from the end zone with 1:48 to play in the fourth quarter. They were then forced to kick a field on 4th and 10 as a result. If the call went the other way, the Saints would have been able to either score a touchdown or drain the clock and kick a field goal, leaving the Rams little to no time to score. Because of the no-call, the Rams had one minute and 41 seconds to drive down the field, resulting in a field goal to tie the game 23-23, sending it to overtime. The Rams went on to win the game in overtime off of a 57-yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein, sending them to their first Super Bowl since the 2001 season.

“Ball don’t lie.” On the biggest stage of football, the Rams showed up and put up a measly three points against the New England Patriots. The Rams had 12 total drives: nine resulting in punts, one resulting in an interception by New England cornerback Stephon Gilmore, and the last one resulting in a missed field goal with only five seconds left in the game. Only one drive net them points, a field goal in the third quarter.

On the other hand, the Rams’ defense overall did very well, intercepting Tom Brady once early on and holding the number two regular-season offense to only 13 points. However, their offense led by Jared Goff failed to show up on almost every single drive. The Rams are a run-heavy, play action focused team and the Patriots forced Goff to throw the ball in situations he wasn’t comfortable with. The Patriots defense stopped the Ram’s normal audible strategy by calling more than one play in the huddle and then shifting to the correct play after the Rams coach, Sean McVay, already made adjustments and the headset between McVay and Goff shut off. They forced Goff to read the defense and not rely on McVay, something he showed that he could not do very well during the game. The Patriots’ defense had him where they wanted him all night long. CJ Anderson wasn’t able to show up big and, once again, Todd Gurley, who is debatably one of the best running backs in the NFL, had a puzzlingly low 10 attempts.

The Patriots took home their sixth Super Bowl ring since their 2001 season, because of great play by namely wide receiver Julian Edelman, cornerback Stephon Gilmore, and running back Sony Michel. While we are all asking if Tom Brady is the greatest to ever play the game we should also be asking if the Los Angeles Rams even deserved to be in Super Bowl 53 in the first place