The sun sets behind Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, just days before the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots take the field in Super Bowl LIII.
New England Patriots’ Jason McCourty (30) breaks up pass intended Los Angeles Rams’ Josh Reynolds (83), during the first half of the NFL Super Bowl 53 football game Sunday, in Atlanta.
Frank Franklin II/AP
Frank Franklin II/AP
Frank Franklin II/AP
Better shake off that déjà vu, dear friends.
Sure, for the second time in as many decades, the Super Bowl features a David versus Goliath clash between the Patriots and the Rams — but this time, the teams have swapped roles. The Rams aren’t the big, bad favorites they were back in 2002, the last time they met the Patriots on the NFL’s biggest stage. And the Patriots aren’t exactly the lovable underdogs they were when Tom Brady was just a blushing sophomore.
These days, the Rams hail from Los Angeles, Brady’s Hall of Fame career is old enough to vote and the question on the minds of everyone outside New England is some variation on the following: Could the Patriots please quit winning already?
It’s far from the only question that may get an answer Sunday. Both sides are entering the game with a teeming host of them. That includes what defensive mastermind Bill Belichick has up his sleeve to stop the Rams’ inventive offense, and whether the Patriots coach can be convinced to even wear sleeves with his trademark hoodie.
Whatever answers may come, we’ll be here, live-blogging it all — and because we’re NPR, occasionally tweeting poetry while we’re at it. Check back here around kickoff, and be sure to send us your own #superbowlhaiku if inspiration so moves you.
If we like it, your little poetic gem may just make an appearance here.
Updated at 8:07 p.m. ET
The game is halfway done, and the Patriots are still up three. It’s been a surprisingly low-scoring game for a couple of the strongest offensive teams in the league, not to mention the second-lowest scoring first half in Super Bowl history.
The Pats so far have a missed field gold, a turnover on downs and a Tom Brady interception — which helps explain the stark difference between their huge lead in yards and small lead in the game.
The official commentators have had their say all night — but you’ve also been giving us your takes. Here are some of our favorite haikus hitting on everything from the game itself, the snacks and Colin Kaepernick. Keep sending by using the hashtag #SuperBowlHaiku.
Updated at 7:38 p.m. ET
The first points of the game went to the Patriots, as Stephen Gostkowski made his second attempt at a field goal, this time from 42 yards. Halfway through the second quarter, the score is now 3-0.
One name making a mark so far this game for a series of sharp plays is Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelmen. Early in the second quarter, the 32-year-old player had 74 yards alone to the Ram’s 32 cumulative yards.
Updated at 7:29 p.m. ET
Several notable absences tonight: Cardi B, Jay-Z and Rihanna all turned down the chance to perform at halftime in a show of support for former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who became the first player to take a knee during the national anthem to protest racial injustice and police brutality. He has filed a grievance against the NFL, alleging that teams have colluded to keep him out of the league.
Support for Kaepernick has been widespread on social media tonight. #I’mWithKap started trending before the game, with tweets from New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow, rapper Common, comedian Nick Cannon, film director Ava Duvernay and actress Jodie Turner-Smith, among others.
“I will not be a spectator, viewer or supporter of the #SuperBowl today in protest of the @NFL’s racist treatment of @Kaepernick7 and its ongoing disregard for the health + well-being of all its players,” DuVernay wrote. “To watch the game is to compromise my beliefs. It’s not worth it. #ImWithKap”
Basketball stars LeBron James and Kevin Durant were both spotted in No. 7 jerseys — Kaepernick’s old number — in support of Kaepenick over the weekend.
Updated at 7:16 p.m. ET
The first quarter came to a close with the score tied at 0-0. Stephen Gostkowski missed the Patriot’s first field goal attempt of the night, from 46 yards away.
Patriot’s tight end Rob Gronkowski, better known as “Gronk,” did notch a new record in his belt, according to ESPN Stats and Information, when he made his 18th career catch in a Super Bowl. He now has the most catches by a tight end in Super Bowl history.
The Patriots kept up their streak of never scoring a touchdown in the first quarter of a Super Bowl.
Updated at 6:54 p.m. ET
Just minutes into the game, the Rams — who also won the coin toss — made their first interception. Nickell Robey-Coleman jumped high and knocked the ball out of the air — and Cory Littleton slid in to make the catch.
It was a rare interception for Brady, who has twice thrown 48 passes without an interception in a Super Bowl, and a potentially positive sign for the Rams.
Meanwhile on the sidelines, Coach McVay’s “get-back guy” is hard at work already, keeping the young coach out of the game’s way.
Update at 6:03 p.m. ET
What’s up with Wade Phillips’ coat?
It’s over 60 degrees in Atlanta ahead of kickoff – a balmy evening on the heels of the recent polar vortex — but Wade Phillips, defensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams, strolled into Mercedes-Benz Stadium sporting a heavy sheepskin coat.
Phillips, the 71-year-old veteran working with 33-year-old head coach Sean McVay, paid tribute to his late father with a coat and cowboy hat identical to Oail Andrew “Bum” Phillips’ renowned outfit.
Houston Oilers coach “Bum” Phillips sports his trademark coat and cowboy hat as he leaves the field after losing to the Steelers in AFC championship in Pittsburgh in 1980.
Bum was a head coach in the NFL in the 1970’s and 80’s, first for the dominant Houston Oilers then for the New Orleans Saints. He cut a striking Texan figure as he strolled the sidelines in his unmistakable cowboy hat and boots.
“Bum Phillips was a country cowboy, never met a stranger, was a great player’s coach,” John McClain, who has covered the NFL for 40 years, told NPR in 2013. “He would stop practice, and he would have an ice cream truck come on the field.”
Bum died in 2013, at the age of 90. The younger Phillips — who is currently the second-oldest coordinator in the NFL — has written a book about his father, “Son of Bum: Lessons My Dad Taught Me About Football and Life.”Share