Miami Dolphins

How Brian Flores ‘out-coached’ the league’s brightest offensive mind in Super Bowl 53

A Super Bowl history of Tom Brady and the Patriots dynasty

As the New England Patriots take on the Los Angeles Rams in the Super Bowl this Sunday, here's a look at how Tom Brady and the Patriots dynasty have done in Super Bowls since 2001.
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As the New England Patriots take on the Los Angeles Rams in the Super Bowl this Sunday, here's a look at how Tom Brady and the Patriots dynasty have done in Super Bowls since 2001.

Brian Flores took apart Sean McVay.

And now, anything seems possible — even fixing the Miami Dolphins.

Flores, in his final game before becoming the Dolphins’ head coach, called the game of his life on the sport’s grandest stage.

The Patriots’ de facto defensive coordinator befuddled the boy genius, holding McVay and the high-flying Rams to the fewest points in Super Bowl history — three — on just 260 yards.

Flores disguised coverages. He blitzed at key times. He overcame the loss of a key player, Patrick Chung. And because he did, Flores will fly to Miami Monday a Super Bowl champion for the fourth time.

“There’s no other way to say it, but I got out-coached,” McVay said, an admission that was both obvious and yet astounding.

The Rams were an offensive juggernaut in the regular season, ranking second in yards (421.1) and points (32.9).

But Flores took their horns.

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“We did a great job of giving them different looks,” Flores said. “We just executed at a high level. We talked about stopping the run. We talked about limiting big plays. The stuff we talk about every week. Communication.”

Flores continued: “I’m telling you, it feels good. I can’t say that it doesn’t. It feels really good. More than anything it’s about the players. It’s about the players and the way they executed.”

The Patriots’ success started by stopping the run — which just doesn’t happen to the Rams. Los Angeles managed just 62 yards on 18 carries (3.4 yards per rush). That put the Rams in third and long, and Jared Goff got exposed. Goff converted just 3 of 12 third downs, was sacked four times and had a passer rating of 57.9.

His worst throw of the night came at the worst possible time.

The Rams faced a second-and-10, down a touchdown, at the Patriots’ 27 with just over four minutes left. For the second time in as many plays, Goff tested Stephon Gilmore down the right sideline.

The first throw would have been a touchdown if not for a great defensive play.

The second was a duck. Gilmore was in position for an easy game-deciding pick.

Why such a poor pass? Flores called up a safety blitz, and Duron Harmon had a free run at the quarterback, affecting the throw.

“I love the guys that I play with it. Bill [Belichick] and Flo, they trust us to make a call like that,” Harmon said. “We didn’t bring too much pressure all game, so it was probably something that caught them by surprise and gave us the opportunity to make the play when we needed it the most.”

The Patriots believed they could rattle Goff with pressure, and built their game plan around it.

They were right.

“He called the game how he said he was going to call it,” said linebacker Dont’a Hightower. “One thing that we all love about Flo is that he’s an aggressive guy. Whatever he says, that’s what he means. Last couple of weeks, we talked and we preached and guys bought in and I think he called a hell of a game tonight.”

Added linebacker Kyle Van Noy:

“We were aggressive all night.”

And as a result, Flores goes out on top. He quietly took time to soak in the moment, posing for pictures with his sons Miles and Maxwell amid the confetti. As he made his way out of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, a star-studded victory party awaited, and then an early morning flight to South Florida with Stephen Ross.

Soon, he’ll meet his new team in his new city. Soon, the players he coached so well will be his adversaries.

But for one night, perfection and appreciation.

“It’s been a privilege to work with him and work under him,” Harmon said. “He coached me at safety for three years. Literally picked me apart when I first got here, built me up as the years went on. Still coaches me. Definitely going to miss him, but excited for the opportunity he has to become a head coach in the National Football League.”

The city of Boston celebrated the New England Patriots Super Bowl LIII win against the Los Angeles Rams on February 3. Here's how people celebrated at Boston Common after the Patriots defeated the Rams 13 to 3.

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Adam Beasley has covered the Dolphins for the Miami Herald since 2012, and has worked for the newspaper since 2006. He is a graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Communications and has written about sports professionally since 1996.
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