Super Bowl LIII had been framed not just as a matchup between two of the NFL’s best teams, but also two of the league’s top coaching minds: Bill Belichick and Sean McVay.
And according to McVay, he was outmatched by his Patriots counterpart, a man literally twice his age.
“There is really no other way to put it,” the 33-year-old Rams coach said after the game Sunday night. “I’m pretty numb right now, but, definitely, I got out-coached. I didn’t do nearly good enough for our football team.”
For Belichick, it was the 66-year-old coach’s sixth Super Bowl win in nine appearances since he began coaching the Patriots in 2000.
McVay called the 13-3 loss “humbling” and credited the Patriots for “mixing it up a little bit on defense,” stifling the high-powered Rams offense to just 260 total yards. The second-year coach said New England did a good job using defensive line stunts, among other things, to generate pressure on Rams quarterback Jared Goff.
“They mixed it up,” he said. “They played almost exclusively some man coverage principles and decided to take away—really in the early downs, all they ended up was playing some single high buzz structures and some quarters principles. Third down, they had their designers and things like that. They did a great job. It was a great game plan. There is no other way to say it, but I got out-coached.”
McVay also took the blame for the struggles of Goff, who completed 19 of 38 passes for 229 yards and one interception.
“I think the biggest thing is that the play selection didn’t really give him much of a chance,” he said. “I think it starts with me, and that is where you have to look back and see what are the things that we can do to be better for our players and then what can the players do better to execute.”
Asked about the usage of running back Todd Gurley, who totaled just 34 yards on 11 touches, McVay also took responsibility. The coach said Gurley was healthy, but that his own play selection “never enabled us to get into a rhythm offensively.”
“I was not pleased at all with my feel for the flow of the game and kind of making some adjustments as the game unfolded and giving ourselves a chance to have some success and put some points on the board,” he said. “Credit to them. They did a good job, and I certainly didn’t do good enough for us. Todd is healthy, and we just didn’t really get a chance to get anybody going today offensively and that starts with me.”
On the other hand, McVay said the Patriots’ game plan “did an outstanding job of putting their guys in positions and then the players did a great job executing.” Additionally, New England’s defense differed their approach compared to what they had done in the two previous playoff games, he said.
“They definitely changed it up with what they had done over the past couple of weeks, especially when you look at some of the things that enabled them to have success against the Chargers and against the Chiefs,” McVay told reporters. “They still played some front structures that we anticipated, and they did an excellent job with it.”
McVay said the Patriots coverage in the passing game was also “definitely mixed compared to what they put on tape.” Ultimately, however, he said it was his own fault for not making better adjustments.
“They did a great job, and it is something that I’m disappointed that I didn’t do a better job of adjusting in the framework of the game,” McVay said. “That is one of the things that makes them great.”