Less than two years ago, Sean McVay became the youngest head coach to lead his team to the Super Bowl. The final was played in his hometown and the Los Angeles Rams opponents were led by one of his idols.
Everything was in place for this promising coach to have the best day of his life. It was quite the opposite, thanks to Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots.
“It’s been a great exercise in humility for me,” McVay said this week. I did not find that I had done a job good enough to allow our team to be crowned. ”
McVay, Aaron Donald, Jared Goff and the many Rams players (8-4) still in the squad will have their first opportunity to avenge this failure against the Pats (6-6) on Thursday in an important duel for the hopes playoffs of both clubs.
The Rams are tied for the lead in the Nationwide West, while the Patriots are back in the race in the American after four wins in five games following their worst start to the season since 2000.
But while the February 2019 victory was just one of six championships Belichick won, that 13-3 setback proved embarrassing for the Rams and their young prodigy coach. The magnitude of this failed performance on the biggest stage ever has not been forgotten by the rest of the NFL.
“It’s just a loss,” said Donald. I try not to think about it. But you know, this Thursday we’re going to push a little harder to get revenge. ”
The Rams became the first team in 53 years not to register a Super Bowl touchdown. The Patriots used the strategy put forward by the Chicago Bears earlier that season to neutralize Goff and the Rams’ offense.
The Rams’ opponents still use some of these strategies two years later. McVay’s offense, still very competent, has not returned to the level it was in his first two campaigns.
It will be interesting to see what strategies Belichick uses this time around against the Rams attack. The Pats defense has six starters who took part in this Super Bowl. Two others have given up on the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“You don’t have to take out of the equation how strong Coach Belichick is,” said Goff, limited to 19 successful assists in 38 and one interception (from Stephon Gilmore) in this game. It’s not a night you’re particularly happy about, but you wish you could learn from the experience. ”
Thursday’s game will pit the two least penalized teams in the NFL against each other.
The Pats lead the league with just 45 penalties, compared to 51 for the Rams. The Patriots ‘3.8 penalties per game average is the best ratio since the St. Louis Cardinals’ 3.21 in 1965.
The Rams only got 187 penalty yards in their first six games. However, in four of their last five outings, they have obtained more penalty yards than their opponents.
This meeting will also oppose the third best attack on the ground, that of the Pats, to the third best defense against the run, that of the Rams.
The Patriots have so far averaged 150.9 rushing yards per game. The Rams, meanwhile, have allowed their opponents just 93.1 rushing yards on average.
What’s more, no running back has amassed 100 yards or more against the Rams in 2020. Damien Harris and Sony Michel of the Patriots have joined forces for four games of 100 yards or more so far. Quarterback Cam Newton is also a threat on the ground, with 435 yards and 11 TDs in 2020.