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Rams defense more than did its part against Patriots in Super Bowl

Rams defense more than did its part against Patriots in Super Bowl
Rams linebacker Cory Littleton intercepts a pass intended for Patriots receiver Chris Hogan in the first quarter. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times)

His voice wavered slightly as the emotion clearly moved across his face.

But Mark Barron didn’t want his expression to be misunderstood.

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“I’m not about to cry,” the Rams linebacker said. “I’m pissed off.”

The New England Patriots defeated the Rams 13-3 in Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

After scoring 78 points in their first two postseason games, the Patriots were repeatedly thwarted by the Rams. They had only two possessions that netted more than 60 yards and just one series that extended for more than nine plays.

The Patriots won the time of possession by more than six minutes as the Rams offense was forced to punt nine times.

Yet, the game remained tied as the midway point of the fourth quarter passed, thanks to a defensive effort good enough to win most NFL games.

“Definitely one of our best efforts of the year,” Barron said. “I’m proud of the guys for showing up and giving their best effort.”

And what could the Rams have done better?

“We could have played a perfect game,” Barron said. “We had some errors in there. We could have minimized those and played even better than we did.”

Both defenses produced one turnover. The Rams limited New England to a 3-for-12 performance on third down.

They sacked Tom Brady once and hit him three other times. The Rams were credited with five passes defensed and linebacker Dante Fowler Jr. had two tackles for loss.

“We had some other opportunities that we could have capitalized on, but I thought we played a great game,” Fowler said. “You don’t really see 13-3 games in the Super Bowl. That tells you how prepared we were.”

—Jeff Miller

Marked man

The first pass by Patriots quarterback Brady came in the direction of Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman, who tipped it into the arms of linebacker Cory Littleton for an interception.

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“It felt good,” Robey-Coleman said. “We came out there and started the game off right and tried to get some things going. The momentum definitely shifted after that play.”

Robey-Coleman, already at the center of controversy because of a noncall by officials during the NFC championship game at New Orleans, caused a stir at the outset of Super Bowl week for comments he made about Brady.

In a story published last Monday by Bleacher Report, Robey-Coleman said of Brady, “Age has definitely taken a toll. For him to still be doing it, that’s a great compliment for him. But I think that he’s definitely not the same quarterback he was.”

Robey-Coleman has said his words were misconstrued and taken out of context.

Robey-Coleman said no Patriots players said anything to him about his statements about Brady.

—Gary Klein

Back-to-back Ls

The defeat marked back-to-back Super Bowl losses for Rams receiver Brandin Cooks, who played for the Patriots last season and was knocked out of last year’s Super Bowl against the Philadelphia Eagles because of a concussion after his only catch.

“It’s disappointing,” said Cooks, who led the Rams with eight receptions for 120 yards. “All that hard work you put in and you get here, and you don’t capitalize.”

Cooks came close to scoring on a long pass from Jared Goff when he briefly got wide open in the end zone. But he unable to hang onto the high throw.

“Just one of those plays,” Cooks said. “Kind of popped open, busted coverage, and just back there waiting for the ball. Not something we expected, so Jared saw it late and, you know, I’ve just got to go up earlier to give myself a better opportunity.”

—Sam Farmer

Getting his kicks

The Rams kept one of their most effective weapons busy much of the night. Unfortunately, that was the right leg of punter Johnny Hekker.

Hekker punted nine times, including on each of the Rams’ first eight drives. No Super Bowl team had ever punted on its first eight possessions.

Hekker’s eighth punt traveled a Super Bowl record 65 yards. It wasn’t much of a consolation prize for the four-time Pro Bowl player from Oregon State.

“It’s nice to have an accolade next to your name, something cool and noteworthy,” Hekker said. “But that punt probably rolled for half the total distance, so I wasn’t too happy with the way that one came off my foot.”

—Shotgun Spratling

Decisions, decisions

Rams offensive lineman and captain Andrew Whitworth, 37, was asked if he will retire after the most successful season of his 13-year career.

But Whitworth wasn’t ready to announce his intentions for 2019. After the game, teammates begged him not to make any announcement. He obliged them.

“I have no idea. I really don’t,” said Whitworth, who signed a three-year contract in 2017. “I still love playing. I still love the game. I still feel great.

“I still play at a high level. I’ll let the offseason play out and kind of see what’s best for the franchise, what’s best for me and see what happens.”

When asked if he was more frustrated with the loss or with the possibility that this could be the end of his career, Whitworth was matter of fact.

“You’re not going to get me to pout — I realize what this game means,” he said. “I cherish ... it and I don’t [care] if you have a Hall of Fame bust, if you’ve been a Pro Bowler or you win 20 Super Bowls.

“At the end of the day, you’re all going to die.

“Who you are, how you carry yourself … are the only things that are going to matter because that is what people are going to remember about you.”

—Shotgun Spratling

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