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New England Patriots Face The LA Rams In Sunday's Super Bowl


The Super Bowl is Sunday of course - the New England Patriots against the Los Angeles Rams. NPR's Tom Goldman follows the NFL for us and is here to give us a preview. Tom, good morning.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: Not the first time these teams have met in the Super Bowl.

GOLDMAN: It is not. It has been - well, it seems like just yesterday. Seventeen years ago...

INSKEEP: Maybe to you it seems just like yesterday.

GOLDMAN: It does.


GOLDMAN: Super Bowl XXXVI, when the Los Angeles Rams were the St. Louis Rams, but the New England Patriots were still (laughter) Bill Belichick...


GOLDMAN: ...And Tom Brady and a few other guys. And back in 2002, the Patriots were just kind of starting out with this dynasty. Now, in the eighth Super Bowl since then, they are both GOATs, Steve...

INSKEEP: (Laughter).

GOLDMAN: ...Greatest of all time.


GOLDMAN: And interestingly, even though the Rams were the St. Louis Rams back then, they were an offensive phenomenon in St. Louis called the greatest show on turf. And once again, this Rams team led by the 33-year-old Sean McVay, an offensive whiz-kid head coach - they are once again an offensive phenomenon, so some parallels.

INSKEEP: OK, impressive teams, no doubt. But I can't remember another Super Bowl where there would be so many people who believed so fiercely that neither of the two teams who are in deserve to be there.

GOLDMAN: (Laughter) Well, yeah. New England doesn't deserve to be there 'cause people just hate New England, which is irrational in many cases.

INSKEEP: But, well, for those who think that way, sure. But then there's the other matter of the officiating, Tom. That's what I'm talking about.

GOLDMAN: Exactly. The Rams shouldn't be here because of, yeah, bad officiating. Yes, that still lingers even though Roger Goodell, the commissioner, finally spoke about it a week and a half after it happened. And I don't think he made a lot of New Orleans fans happy. He admitted that the now infamous no-call on an obvious pass interference by a Los Angeles Rams defender - it should've been called. He says they're going to review whether they need to have more instant replay in the future. That's not normally the kind of play that is reviewed. And - but kind of the sobering thing for Saints fans is he was asked, well, you know, if the - if the competition committee decides that there's no need to change the rules or that if we do change the rules, there will be these unintended consequences so it'll be a bad thing, I'm OK with the status quo. And that was, I think, really discouraging news for Saints fans because that basically says, hey, officials are human; humans make errors; and I'm sorry, New Orleans, and I'm sorry for your disappointment; I really feel that, but sometimes bleep happens.

INSKEEP: Meaning that Goodell is not about to put an asterisk on this Super Bowl whoever it might...

GOLDMAN: I don't think so, and I don't think he'll have to. You know, there are people who are sad about this particularly in New Orleans but also in other parts of the country. People worry that their team may fall victim to this. But I think we're going to have such a great game (laughter) that, I think, the - that they'll forget that.

INSKEEP: One other thing to note - Tony Romo made the Super Bowl.

GOLDMAN: (Laughter) Finally, finally, and he's expected to do great. Tony Romo, former Dallas Cowboys quarterback...


GOLDMAN: He is in his second year as the lead analyst for CBS, and he is a phenomenon - talking about phenomenon - a phenomena. And his big gift is that he predicts plays, and people are wowed by that. He predicts plays right before they happen. The Wall Street Journal dove into that, Steve, and looked at all 2,600 plays that he called this season and found out that he had a 68 percent success rate...


GOLDMAN: ...When he made predictions. So not bad.

INSKEEP: Tom, thanks so much.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome.

INSKEEP: NPR's sports correspondent Tom Goldman. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tom Goldman is NPR's sports correspondent. His reports can be heard throughout NPR's news programming, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and on