This Phantom Rams Penalty in the 4th Quarter Changed the Super Bowl

By Jason McIntyre

The most boring Super Bowl of my lifetime featured two teams playing ultra-conservative offense for four boring quarters. The game was devoid of big plays. The longest play of the game was a 29-yard pass to Rob Gronkowski. There were just eight plays of 20+ yards Sunday; in last year’s Super Bowl between the Eagles and Patriots, there were five touchdowns of that length.

Yet the Patriots and Rams were tied at three in the 4th quarter, and the game still in doubt. The Rams were finally driving.

Jared Goff, who was awful all evening, completed two passes to Brandin Cooks to move the Rams near midfield. And then Todd Gurley, a total non-factor again for reasons that will remain a mystery, broke off a 13-yard carry to get the Rams a 1st down and in Patriots territory.

Except there was a flag on the play.

And the Rams never recovered.

These are the eight plays that immediately followed the holding call:

1st and 20: Goff sacked, -2 yards
2nd and 22: Goff incomplete
3rd and 22: Todd Gurley -1 yards
1st and 10: Brady to Gronkowski +18 yards
1st and 10: Brady to Edelman +13 yards
1st and 10: Brady to Burkhead +7 yards
2nd and 3: Brady to Gronkowski +29 yards
1st and goal: Michel 2-yard TD run

The penalty stung the Rams. Facing 1st and 20, Goff’s horrible night continued as he took a sack. It was all downhill from there. There’s no debate – Brian Flores called an incredible defensive game for the Patriots. The Rams could do nothing.

Yet despite an inept offense for 45 minutes, they still had the ball and were driving for a potential go-ahead score.

And then the refs got involved. The Rams had another chance, but Goff was picked off, and that was it.