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Lessons learned from Super Bowl, finding balance is the key to championships

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All the obsession with innovative offenses in 2018 and in the biggest game of the year, it was all about defense.

NFL: Super Bowl LIII-New England Patriots vs Los Angeles Rams Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Another Super Bowl ends with the Patriots hoisting the Lombardi. No matter the underdog narrative that Boston is so desperately trying to sell, the world knows better. They are the gold standard and Bill Belichick did what he always does to a relatively inexperienced opponent, he shut them down. That’s the prevailing takeaway we should be talking about is that defense won the championship in a year when offenses were scoring more points than ever. The Patriots proved that it’s often the teams that find balance that end up champions.

The Rams ran into a Patriots squad that was seventh in team defense. Coincidentally, New England also had the fourth-best offense and the Rams countered that with the 20th ranked defense. The L.A. Rams have arguably the best defensive player in the league in Aaron Donald. They also have Ndamukong Suh and Michael Brockers, all of which played their tails off but none of it mattered. This league will always come down to the team that is balanced offensively and defensively. The Patriots scored one touchdown and that was all they needed. On their scoring drive the Rams defense couldn’t get off the field. Football is simple, it really doesn’t change all that much from year to year.

We live in a world where hot takes and snap judgments are the norm, nobody is married to their opinions as they change with results of next week. Remember the Monday Night Football game where the Los Angeles Rams defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 54-51 right before Thanksgiving? Remember the lines drawn between those who thought it was the best game they ever saw versus those that thought the lack of defense was embarrassing to the league?

High-scoring affairs are exciting to watch but so are games where every inch seems like a struggle. As great as that Monday night game was, the next week’s Thursday Night Football game where the Cowboys beat the Saints 13-10 was the highest-rated TNF game ever. So, what did we learn from the Patriots 13-3 Super Bowl win over the Rams?

For starters, championships are still decided by who you can trust to get a necessary stop. All year long, we’ve seen so much swooning over 33-year-old coach Sean McVay, his innovative play-calling, and how he was leading the charge towards the future of the NFL. All that innovation on offense, with second-highest scoring squad in the league, and we saw a total of three points from the Rams?! What about Jared Goff and Todd Gurley? What about Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks, CJ Anderson? Tyler Higbee, anyone? The Rams offense was held to 260 total yards and three points?

The Patriots played man defense most of the year but decided to change it up in this game to feature more zone as they believed it would work against Goff. It worked beautifully and on offense, New England ran the football, made mismatches with Rob Gronkowski, and ate the Rams alive in the slot. It didn’t matter how much L.A. spent in free agency, how they constructed one of the most talented rosters in football, New England attacked their weaknesses to perfection.

The Chiefs and Rams were two of the most exciting offenses we’ve seen but both teams struggled defensively, both teams were eliminated in the postseason by the most balanced team in football. Those hoping for an offensive revolution were mistaken because that’s not the future after all. Turns out, defense still matters in the NFL despite the rules making it more impossible to master each year. There may be some really great offensive minds out there dialing up the creativity and hitting big plays but the league always catches up.

Maybe all the things that Jason Garrett preaches about balance isn’t something we should roll our eyes about each time he utters it. The Cowboys have an up and coming defense. Build on that by finding more balance on offense and maybe this Cowboys team will be contending for a title. Some may be disappointed by such a low-scoring Super Bowl, it certainly took a dip in the ratings, but that’s football. The Patriots have dominated for almost two decades in a league that doesn’t want repeats because they often find a way to be balanced. It’s not about which team has the next big thing on offense or who has the most talent on defense. It’s about building a team that can adapt to different situations and collectively has the balance to beat any opponent. That’s the mark of a championship team, that’s the lesson learned for every team that was watching from home.