ATLANTA – Sean McVay’s players weren’t having it.
The 33-year-old Rams coach entered his Super Bowl postgame locker room with a message: This is my fault.
A series of “no” responses greeted him, punter Johnny Hekker said.
“ ‘No’s – no, coach,’ ” Hekker said in the aftermath of the Rams’ 13-3 loss to the Patriots. “Just one of those deals where he’s trying to take accountability and we have a team full of guys who are accountable as well. And when we look ourselves in a mirror, we’re going to know we all left plays out there as well that could’ve contributed to the result.”
For Sunday night, at least, that didn’t ease McVay’s disappointment.
The second-year said the loss on the biggest stage – when his touted offense was held to 3 points and his defense's latest heightened playoff performance was for naught – “just stings in your gut.”
“I’m still kind of numb right now,” McVay said around 11 p.m. as he and subdued players cycled through makeshift podiums in the bowels of Mercedes-Benz Stadium. “I got outcoached. I didn’t do nearly good enough for our football team.”
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In interviews, as in the postgame locker room, McVay’s players dismissed the notion that their head coach should shoulder the blame for an insufficient day of offense. Sure, the Rams defense strung together a dominant first half that included an interception of Tom Brady on his first pass and strip sack before the half (New England recovered).
The Patriots converted on just two of seven third downs amid bruising hits from Rams linemen Ndamukong Suh and Aaron Donald and a pass deflection courtesy of Mark Barron. Rams defenders batted down five of Brady’s passes in all throughout the low-scoring contest.
So even after 12 first downs, 195 yards and 19:52 of 30 minutes possession, the Patriots left for halftime with just 3 points to show.
“At the end of the day, as as a whole, we played great,” outside linebacker Dante Fowler said. “Like you said, you don’t see many 13-3 games in the Super Bowl. So that shows you how prepared we were.”
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