Michael Irvin went nuts over Brandin Cooks’ inability to make some big plays in the Super Bowl.
Cooks’ Los Angeles Rams were held without a touchdown and only scored three points in a 13-3 Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots. Cooks twice was unable to come down with potential catches in the end zone. On Showtime’s “Inside the NFL”, Irvin blasted Cooks for his inability to make the big play that was needed.
Gotta add something to this thread: Michael Irvin went crazy about Cooks not making a 50/50 catch in the Super Bowl (he said it's an 80/20 ball for him) pic.twitter.com/F8ekuBCr2y
— #NobodyDied (@ftbeard_17) February 7, 2019
The funny part is Showtime’s Brandon Marshall brought out a video of Irvin similarly being unable to make a tough catch in the 1994 NFC Championship Game against the 49ers, and Irvin did everything possible to defend himself.
Irvin’s point still stands. The catches were tough — and on one, Jared Goff delivered the ball late — but those are the plays that need to be made to win a Super Bowl. Just look at Rob Gronkowski — he makes the tough, diving catch by the end zone to set up the only TD of the game. That could have very easily been dropped, but his clutch catch is the difference between winning and losing. And that’s why Gronk got the love from Irvin after the game.
Few expected Super Bowl LIII to be a total defensive struggle, but that’s what we got in a 13-3 New England Patriots victory. New England’s latest title comes at the expense of the Los Angeles Rams, whose high-powered offense failed to even score a touchdown in the biggest game of their season.
Here’s a look at five major disappointments from Super Bowl LIII.
Los Angeles Rams’ offense
The New England defense played great, but the Rams’ offense didn’t ever look like they were going on a run. Todd Gurley and the run game disappeared. Jared Goff was pressured and seemed confused a lot and never really found a groove or open receivers. He was slightly late on a key throw to Brandin Cooks that should have been a touchdown, and was let down by Cooks on a drop in the fourth quarter on what may have been his best throw of the day. It just didn’t work out for anyone on the Rams’ offense in the big game, which was rather shocking considering how good they were for much of the season.
Brandin Cooks, WR, Rams
The Rams were bad on offense all day and struggled to get anything going, but one key moment in the fourth quarter may end up being the key moment of the game. Rams receiver Brandin Cooks had a touchdown catch if he could just haul in the throw, but it slipped through his hands. On the very next play, Jared Goff threw a lame duck interception that set the Patriots up to run out the clock. Cooks will be seeing that play in his nightmares. It wasn’t an easy one, but it was certainly catchable.
Aaron Donald, DT, Rams
The Rams got a lot of pressure on Tom Brady early in the game, and Donald was in the middle of it. Ultimately, though, the Patriots’ offensive line began to take over and didn’t really let Brady take a lot of pressure in the second half. From that standpoint, Donald simply didn’t have the impact that he had hoped to have. He had five tackles, and did get one hit on Brady, but didn’t get a sack and wasn’t really a wrecking ball in the backfield. It’s a bit ruthless to say so when the Patriots were held to just 13 points, but from a standpoint of pushing New England backwards or forcing turnovers, it just didn’t happen.
Todd Gurley, RB, Rams
We will probably get more on Gurley’s status in the days to come, but Sunday did nothing to convince anyone that the Rams’ running back wasn’t playing hurt. After a lot of talk about a bigger role in the Super Bowl, Gurley was anonymous early and didn’t get a lot better as the game went on. Gurley got just 10 carries for 35 yards and lost a yard on his only reception. He didn’t ever appear fully healthy, and it wasn’t a performance he’ll want to remember.
Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
Brady is a deserved winner of another Super Bowl, but this certainly won’t go down to his finest performance in a championship. A lot of his throws were off, and he threw a very bad interception in the first quarter. To Brady’s credit, he didn’t commit any further turnovers, though he had a scary moment with a sack and fumble. Brady didn’t throw for a touchdown and his one great pass of the day was to Rob Gronkowski on the ultimately winning touchdown drive, but he let the run game carry him and found Julian Edelman when he needed to. It still wasn’t a signature performance.
The big question on everyone’s mind is who will win Super Bowl LIII. There’s more than just the big prize at stake on Sunday in Atlanta, however. There are a lot of lesser prizes to claim, and not the least of them is Super Bowl MVP honors.
The joy of Super Bowl MVP is that anyone can win it. Sure, that sounds obvious on the surface, but any one player can have a big game out of nowhere, and that’s all it takes to put yourself in the conversation. Any player could jump up and surprise us and claim honors on Sunday, but some options are more obvious than others. Here are ten who would seem to stand a pretty good chance of claiming the award.
Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
If the Patriots win, it’s pretty easy to envision Brady claiming the Super Bowl MVP. The quarterback tends to play his best in big games, and this certainly counts as the biggest. The Rams can be vulnerable to the pass, and with two weeks of gameplanning, it’s pretty safe to say that Brady will be prepared for whatever Los Angeles throws at him. If he has a big game, it’s easy to see the MVP voters defaulting to him.
Brandin Cooks, WR, Rams
Cooks is the Rams’ big play wide receiver, the man Jared Goff counts on when he needs a big chunk of yardage. That puts Cooks in position to put up some big numbers. He had five 100-yard receiving games in the regular season, and he put up 107 yards on the New Orleans Saints during the playoffs. He hasn’t put up huge touchdown totals, but if he has a big yardage game and finds the end zone once or twice, hardware could come his way.
Brandin Cooks had an excellent season with the Los Angeles Rams this year, but similar production in 2016 and 2017 was not enough to prevent him from being traded by his two previous teams. According to the wide receiver’s third head coach in as many seasons, that is not going to happen again this year.
Rams coach Sean McVay had high praise for Cooks on Tuesday and told reporters at the Super Bowl that there’s no way he will be traded heading into next season.
“Everybody that’s been around Brandin you can’t talk enough about the production. This is a special human being,” McVay said, per Kevin Patra of NFL.com. “The way he goes about his business. Guys like him are why you love coaching. … I could go on and on about what he’s done for this football team. He’s been instrumental in us getting here. Love that guy and you can’t say enough good things about Brandin Cooks. I can promise you this: We’re not trading him.”
McVay also noted that New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton — both of whom coached Cooks before he ended up in LA — “think the world” of the former first-round pick, so it’s not as if the trades are a reflection of his character.
Cooks signed a five-year, $81 million extension with the Rams after they acquired him from the Patriots last offseason. He was quick to fire back at one of his former teammates this week for talking smack heading into the Super Bowl, so it seems like he has adjusted to life with his latest team quite well. With how explosive the Rams’ offense looked all year, it makes sense that they have no intention of breaking it up.
The New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams each held their Super Bowl send-off rallies on Sunday, and the two teams have already begun the process of trading some friendly trash talk.
Patriots safety Patrick Chung was one of a handful of players who addressed the 30,000-plus in Foxboro, and one of the ways he pumped up the crowd was by saying he and his teammates are “going to go out there and kick their a–.”
Patrick Chung: “We’re gonna go down there and kick their ass, baby.” pic.twitter.com/M0payVAeHz
— Zack Cox (@ZackCoxNESN) January 27, 2019
The Rams held their rally later in the day, and former Patriots wide receiver Brandin Cooks made it clear that they took note of what Chung said.
Todd Gurley: “We going to go back to the A and bring a Chip back to LA.” Then Jared Goff asks the crowd if they wanted to hear from Marcus Peters — which would have been awesome — instead, Brandin Cooks steps forward to say something about what happened earlier today in Foxboro. pic.twitter.com/6xBq85er78
— Joe Curley (@vcsjoecurley) January 27, 2019
Cooks enjoyed plenty of success in his lone season with the Patriots last year, so he probably still has a close relationship with some players in New England. Players trying to get under their opponents’ skin ahead of the biggest game of the year is certainly nothing new. We’ll probably see more of it over the next week, but none of it will matter once the ball is kicked off in Atlanta.
It may be for any number of reasons, but Sunday’s Conference Championships will be memorable for a long, long time. There will be a lot of talk about referees and rules and other controversies, but it would be silly to ignore the fact that there were some standout performances on Sunday that don’t deserve to be forgotten.
Here’s a look at the eight biggest standouts of NFL Championship Sunday.
Tony Romo, CBS analyst
If anyone still doubted whether Romo is the best game analyst in the business right now, they need only listen to him essentially calling out every New England play during the fourth quarter and overtime. He spotted when the Patriots were going to open things up and go to the right on a 4th and short, which they did for a touchdown. He noted when Rob Gronkowski was put out wide, where the Patriots targeted him virtually every time. He pointed out when New England was setting up for their constant passes over the middle to Julian Edelman as well. He simply has a great football mind and sees the game incredibly well. He was all over what the Patriots were doing on Sunday and completely shined as an analyst.
Greg Zuerlein, K, Rams
Zuerlein was kicking in a dome, but it’s not easy to make a field goal from 57 yards in any venue, especially when a Super Bowl berth is riding on it. The Rams kicker did so, however, and seemingly with plenty of room to spare. In addition to the 57-yard game-winner, Zuerlein tucked a 48-yarder inside the upright late in the fourth quarter to tie the game. In a year where a lot of kickers have failed, Zuerlein came up huge in a big moment and deserves the plaudits in a big way.
The Los Angeles Rams traded a first-round pick for Brandin Cooks prior to the NFL Draft earlier this year, and they clearly were not thinking of the star wide receiver as a rental player when they made the deal.
On Tuesday, the Rams announced that they have signed Cooks to a five-year contract extension, which will keep him under contract with the team through 2023.
“Brandin Cooks has shown himself to be a class act on and off the field since the first day he joined our team,” head coach Sean McVay said. “He’s a proven professional in this league and signing him to a long-term contract was always our goal. We’re excited to keep Brandin in a Rams uniform through 2023.”
It was somewhat surprising that the New England Patriots dealt Cooks after the 24-year-old caught 65 passes for 1,082 yards and seven touchdowns last year, but there were times when he struggled to get on the same page with Tom Brady. Still, Cooks has lightning speed and is the type of playmaker who keeps defenses on their toes. With the enormous strides Jared Goff made in his first season under McVay, Cooks should serve as an outstanding weapon in L.A. for years to come.