Who is really to blame for Rams rough showing in Super Bowl LIII?
Well, Super Bowl LIII went just about as poorly as possible for the Los Angeles Rams offense.
After finished the regular season with the NFL's second highest-scoring offense at 32.9 points per game, the Rams could only muster three points against the New England Patriots in the lowest scoring Super Bowl ever.
For once on the biggest stage, Tom Brady left the door open -- 13 points is the fewest points the Pats have scored in Brady's nine trips -- by only tallying a QBR of 25.8 and no touchdowns to go with an interception, but LA still could not capitalize.
So who deserves the blame?
Following the game, head coach Sean McVay shouldered the responsibility by admitting he was 'out coached' by Bill Belichick.
The 33-year-old offensive guru described the postgame feeling as 'numbing' and admitted his play calling didn't allow the Rams to get into any type of rhythm.
LA's first nine drives were all five plays or less and they mustered only 46 yards in the first half. Additionally, one of the largest areas reflected on a head coach is his team's discipline. The Rams were flagged for nine penalties, giving up 65 yards compared to the Patriots three for 20 yards.
"He could not help the kid [Jared Goff] in this game," Cris Carter said on First Things First. "He couldn't give him any plays, any formations, where Goff could get into a rhythm."
"He took accountability and said he's going to wear it pretty hard," punter Johnny Hekker told USA Today about McVay. "A lot of the guys were quick to let him know – it's not on you; it's on every single one of us. If we had all made little differences here or there, then things would've come out differently for us."
While Hekker shifted the focus onto each player in the Rams locker room, one other guy publicly came out to take the blame: Jared Goff.
"It was me. It was our offense. And we -- well, I -- couldn't do my part," Goff said. "It wasn't a game we needed 30 points to win. We needed two touchdowns, and I couldn't get it done. That's on me. I'm the guy who has to drive this offense."
Goff finished the night 19 of 38 for 229 yards and a pivotal 4th quarter interception near the goal line as the Rams were putting together their most complete drive of the game.
This was Goff's fifth-straight game throwing for fewer than 300 yards and his completion percentage of 50 -- his second lowest of the season -- makes him a vulnerable target to take the responsibility.
"Is there a grade lower than an 'F' I can give him?" Shannon Sharpe questioned on Undisputed. "Maybe an incomplete?"
Aside from the two men that confronted the loss straight on, could someone else be to blame?
Running back Todd Gurley, who led the League in touchdowns during the year, was virtually nonexistent for the second-straight game. Coming off a career-low in touches during the NFC Championship Game, Gurley only had the ball in his hands 11 times (10 rush, 1 rec) Sunday and accounted for 34 yards. His shortage of opportunity can once again reflect back on McVay's play calling, but Gurley's inefficiency when he did have the ball also puts him in the spotlight.
Although Gurley is listed as healthy and the team confirmed there is no injury, his lack of usage and production causes Carter to think differently.
Or maybe, even though the Rams defense completely shutdown the Patriots at a historic rate, they didn't do enough when it mattered most?
Despite picking off Brady, forcing a fumble and allowing just 44 rushing yards in the first half, the Rams gave up 111 rush yards, 10 points and two free first downs via penalties in the second.
"We didn’t do enough," Ndamukong Suh said afterward. "No question – it’s a cliché saying but I think it's ultimately true: Defense wins championships."
"They made more plays," Aaron Donald added. "They shouldn't have scored at all, but they did."
Where was the back-to-back AP Defensive Player of the Year?
Donald was double, sometimes triple, teamed throughout the entire night-- essentially being held in check from his usual domination on the inside. Despite setting an NFL record with 20.5 sacks as an interior lineman in the regular season, he finished the playoffs without a single sack. He had just one solo tackle and one QB hit Sunday.
So while blame can be shifted back-and-forth between individuals or one side of the ball against the other, perhaps it's more fitting to just chalk it up and give credit where credit is due: to the Super Bowl LIII champion New England Patriots for a brilliant overall performance.
The path to SB LIV starts now.