By Nick Archacki, news editor
On Sunday January 20, one of the most important days of the NFL season occurred for the NFC and AFC divisions as the Los Angeles Rams faced the New Orleans Saints, and the New England Patriots faced the Kansas City Chiefs to determine which two teams would advance to Super Bowl LIII (53).
The first game of the day, a battle between the Saints and Rams, transpired at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. The Saints held a comfortable lead at the end of the first quarter 13-0 until the Rams came back in the second quarter to close the gap 13-10 at the end of the first half.
The Saints had firm control of the game at the closing of the fourth quarter until an inexplicable no-call was made by the referees as the pass interference and hitting a defenseless receiver contact play was considered, by many, as the worst no-call in playoff history and one of the worst no-calls in NFL history. The result of this no-call led to the Rams tying the Saints at the end of regulation, 23-23.
The Saints got the ball at the start of overtime and the Rams connected for an interception off Saints quarterback Drew Brees. The Rams brought the football within reach of the field goal and the Rams kicker sent L.A. to the Super Bowl with a 57-yard field goal conversion, winning 26-23.
Later that night, the Chiefs and the Patriots faced off in frigid temperatures at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. The Patriots took an early lead 14-0 at the end of halftime. But the Chiefs answered New England’s call by tying the game at the end of regulation, 31-31, with the Chiefs kicker making a 3-point conversion.
The Chiefs scored 31 points after halftime and the Pats maintained by scoring 17 points in their third and fourth quarters, respectively. This was the first time in NFL history where both NFC and AFC championship games resulted in a tie at the end of the fourth quarter.
The Patriots received the ball in overtime and the Chiefs didn’t get the ball again the rest of the game. The Patriots running-back scored the game-winning touchdown with a 2-yard run into the end zone, ending a thriller, 37-31.
Now the excitement builds for the big game this Sunday. The Patriots and Rams will duel at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, which will begin at 6:30 p.m. EST. The Patriots will be looking for their record-tying sixth Super Bowl victory (The Pittsburgh Steelers currently hold the record), and the Rams will be looking to capture their second Vince Lombardi trophy.
History is also on the line for this game. If Tom Brady wins, he will be the oldest starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl at age 41. If Jared Goff wins, he will be the second youngest starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl at age 24. If Goff starts, he will be the youngest quarterback to start the Super Bowl since Tom Brady in 2002.
The last time the Los Angeles Rams were in the Super Bowl was 2002. Their opponent? The New England Patriots. The Rams lost the game, 20-17. Coincidence? That question will be answered on Sunday.