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Rams join Patriots, Giants as rare Super Bowl winners to lose on opening night

Patriots players don't seem to mind facilities in West Palm Beach
Patriots players don't seem to mind facilities in West Palm Beach 01:04

BOSTON -- A banner ceremony is supposed to be one big party. Oftentimes, it is exactly that.

But the party ended early on Thursday night in Los Angeles, as the Buffalo Bills exerted a special sort of dominance over the defending Super Bowl-champion Rams in the NFL's opening night extravaganza. The Bills didn't punt once, and though the Rams forced four turnovers and had the game tied at halftime, Buffalo ran away with a 31-10 win.

The loss surely won't derail the Rams' entire season, but it does put them on a short list of defending Super Bowl champions who have lost their home game on the opening night of the season.

The NFL has held this tradition since 2004, essentially rewarding the champs with a nationally televised banner ceremony. That team has, by and large, gone on to win the game. It's been difficult for visitors to overcome the environment in the way that the Bills did on Thursday evening. 

The Rams, though, join a short list with the 2017 Patriots and the 2012 Giants as the only teams to lose after that season-opening celebration.

The 2017 Patriots, you may remember, got run out of their own house by Alex Smith, Kareem Hunt, and Tyreek Hill back in the 2017 opener, when Gillette Stadium was both an unofficial 28-3 memorial and a captivating sea of Roger Goodell clown towels. The 2012 Giants -- fresh off beating the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI --  trailed 24-10 at home to the Cowboys before a late New York touchdown made it a more respectable seven-point loss for the champs.

Those 2017 Patriots ended up reaching the Super Bowl that year, while the 2012 Giants went 9-7 and missed the playoffs. They actually haven't won a playoff game since winning that Super Bowl in 2011, which isn't particularly great for a team based in the biggest city in America. Nevertheless.

The Rams' 21-point loss was the worst of the three, with the Patriots losing by 15 points to Kansas City and the Giants losing by seven to the Cowboys.

The Patriots, as you'd imagine, won plenty of those opening night games. They narrowly beat the Colts to open the 2004 season, a contest remembered as the Edgerrin James Fumble Game. They beat Randy Moss and the Raiders to open the 2005 season, too. And after kicking off Dynasty Part Deux, the Patriots beat the Steelers on opening night in 2015.

The Patriots didn't get to host the Thursday night opener in 2019, as the NFL went with a classic Packers-Bears matchup to kick off the 100th season. New England got the Sunday night game instead, blowing out the Steelers 33-3 on what now stands as the last banner ceremony held in Gillette Stadium.

Tom Brady added another banner-night win last year with the Bucs, who beat the Cowboys 31-29.

The only other year that the Super Bowl champs haven't hosted that season opening game was 2013, when the Orioles refused to reschedule a regular-season game to allow the Ravens to host the Thursday night extravaganza. The Ravens ended up playing on opening night but losing in Denver.

Overall, teams hosting the Thursday night season opener after winning the Super Bowl are now 14-3 since 2004.

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