After keeping Tom Brady out of the end zone for three and a half quarters, the Los Angeles Rams' defense finally blinked.
In this Super Bowl, that one brief lapse was too much to overcome. Even holding the New England Patriots to one field goal until midway through the fourth quarter wasn't good enough.
For the sixth time in his career, Brady found a way to win the Super Bowl. The Rams defense had done enough to win most games, but the Los Angeles offense didn't do its part.
That gave Brady a chance for one touchdown drive in the fourth quarter, and he delivered.
"That's our role, to disrupt the passer and disrupt the running game," said Rams defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh following New England's 13-3 win on Sunday night. "For the most part we did that, but we just didn't close it out. That's on us."
The low scoring total in any game with the powerful Patriots was a surprise.
"They hardly scored and we were in this game until the end of the fourth quarter," said linebacker Cory Littleton. "We were doing everything just fine and we just made mistakes at the end and they capitalized."
Local news from across Southern California
Littleton helped set the tone for the Rams' strong defensive game with his first-quarter interception after Brady's first pass was deflected.
"We were in a zone defense," Littleton said. "I'm a hustle player. I'm reading the quarterback ... (Nickell) Robey-Coleman makes a great deflection, ball is in the air and I pick it off."
After being contained most of the game, Brady struck quickly when he suddenly solved the Rams' defense in the decisive fourth-quarter touchdown drive.
Brady completed four straight passes, including 18- and 29-yard strikes to Rob Gronkowski. The last catch set up Sony Michel's 2-yard scoring run. The game's only touchdown left the Rams with a deficit they wouldn't overcome.
"It was a hell of a game," said Rams cornerback Marcus Peters. "We just didn't get it done."
Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald was frustrated by Brady's crucial 29-yard pass to Gronkowski.
"I had an opportunity there on a one-on-one," Donald said. "I got off my one-on-one clean. (Brady) was sitting back there and had time to make a good pass. He made a good play."
The Rams held New England to 13 points despite giving up 407 total yards and 22 first downs.
"I thought our defense did a nice job, but they were able to make some plays here and there," said Rams coach Sean McVay, who gave credit to Brady and the Patriots. "You see why they are a great football team."