ATLANTA — Super Bowl LIII between the NFC champion Los Angeles Rams and AFC champion New England Patriots will be played today from Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Check back here for updates, notes and analysis from the game as the Pats try to win a record-tying sixth Lombardi Trophy and the Rams try to bring their first Super Bowl title to Hollywood after winning one for St. Louis (and one NFL championship for Cleveland, in 1945, and another for L.A. in 1951).
Gurley a ghost again?
Is it happening again? The Rams’ all-pro tailback has one touch so far while backup C.J. Anderson has three. Obviously early, but notable following Gurley’s disappearing act in the NFC title game.
One of my more interesting assignments this week was ranking the 53 most impactful players for Super Bowl LIII. I’ll felt odd about having Todd Gurley and Aaron Donald relatively low and Sony Michel and Julian Edelman listed just after the quarterbacks. But so far, it’s playing out. READ MORE
PATRIOTS 3, RAMS 0
Gostkowski connects from 42 yards to break the ice and get New England on the board. But did Rob Gronkowski get hurt while setting up that field goal? Something to obviously monitor.
In case you’re just here for the commercials, here’s the latest from the Bud Light Kingdom. READ MORE
Meanwhile, in New Orleans …
… Saints fans are protesting the Super Bowl. Can you blame them? READ MORE
Stats after one quarter
Patriots: 22 plays, 113 yards, eight first downs … 0 points
Rams: Nine plays, 29 yards, 1 first down … 0 points
END OF FIRST QUARTER: PATRIOTS 0, RAMS 0
A scoreless opening period winds up extending an odd Super Bowl trend for the five-time champion Patriots — they’ve never scored a first-quarter TD in nine Super Sunday appearances during the Brady-Belichick era.
Pat on ex-Pat crime
Looks like New England has found a matchup it likes. WR Julian Edelman has three catches for 43 yards already working mostly against Rams CB Aqib Talib, Edelman’s former Patriots teammate.
Welp. L.A.’s Johnny Hekker is probably the NFL’s best punter … and his first put the Pats inside their own 20 (but only at the 19). But that was an ugly 28-yarder on his first effort of the night. READ MORE
Rob Gronkowski’s 19-yard catch was his 18th career Super Bowl reception, most in the game’s history.
As the Rams take possession for the second time, they’ve run three plays to New England’s 15 thus far in opening quarter.
Pats K Stephen Gostkowski, who’s playing in his sixth Super Bowl, missed one FG and one PAT last year in the loss to Philadelphia. He’s 0-for-1 tonight after being wide left from 46 yards.
Lots of good ones for Super Bowl LIII. My colleague A.J. Perez will be following that action. READ MORE
A little history for Edelman?
Patriots WR Julian Edelman already has one catch for 11 yards. He just needs 34 to take over second place in all-time playoff receiving yards, trailing only Jerry Rice.
Expect the Patriots to try everything possible to limit defensive player of the year Aaron Donald tonight. Ndamukong Suh and Dante Fowler are among those who need to give big nights.
That was Tom Brady’s sixth career Super Bowl INT. New England is 3-1 in Super Bowls in which he’s picked off. First time in Brady’s playoff career that his first pass in a game was swiped.
New England has gone run-heavy in its last four games, averaging nearly 184 yards on the ground in those four wins. First four plays tonight were rushes.
And we’re off
Rams K Greg Zuerlein told me earlier this week he didn’t want to mess with Patriots K Cordarrelle Patterson. Zuerlein was lucky to make the tackle and limit that return to 38 yards.
Rams win the first battle of the night, guessing right on the coin toss. They’ll kick.
The Patriots are the third team, joining the 1971-73 Dolphins and 1990-1993 Bills, to reach three consecutive Super Bowls. Miami’s 1972 team was the last to win on Super Sunday one year after losing the big game.
Beautiful rendition performed by Gladys Knight. And thankful that’s all we need to say about it. Game on.
The roof is open
The oculus roof of Mercedes-Benz Stadium has been opened for the pre-game festivities. Quite cool.
The roof will close again for the actual game.
Even though Rams coach Sean McVay grew up in suburban Atlanta, today’s crowd definitely seems skewed in favor of the Patriots. Large cheers erupted when Tom Brady and Co. took the field for warm-ups, while the Rams were booed fairly lustily for what’s supposed to be a “neutral site.”
Not playing today …
Patriots: DB Obi Melifonwu, DB Duke Dawson, DL Keionta Davis, OL James Ferentz, TE Stephen Anderson, DE Derek Rivers, DL Ufomba Kamalu
Rams: DB Darious Williams, RB Justin Davis, OLB Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, OLB Trevon Young, OL Jamil Demby, DT Sebastian Joseph-Day, DT Tanzel Smart
Follow Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis