Simply put, this was the greatest Super Bowl in history.
While people may deny that statement and while I do acknowledge that I’ve only been on this earth for 21 years and probably started watching the Super Bowl around eight years old, I believe that any game could have topped this one.
This game had it all. Extreme highs and extreme lows for each team, the most epic comeback in postseason history and the first overtime game in Super Bowl history.
Oh yeah, and Tom Brady and Bill Belichick reminded us as to why they are the greatest in their respective positions in the history of the game.
Before we get into the game, let’s take it all the way back to the beginning of the season, when Roger Goodell hit Brady with a four-game suspension due to Deflategate, leaving many wondering whether the Patriots could weather the storm.
Not only did they weather the storm, they acted like it wasn’t even there and a total of 17 wins later, they are Super Bowl 51 Champions.
As mentioned before, this was likely the greatest comeback in postseason history. So in order for them to come back, they had to be down, and they were down by a lot.
The Falcons entered last night on a rampage. All three facets of the game were clicking and it continued through the first half of the Super Bowl. After a 0-0 tie at the end of the first quarter, the Falcons broke the game open in the second, scoring 21 points with a punishing running game led by Devonta Freeman and a crisp passing attack led my MVP Matt Ryan. The first score was ushered in on a toss to Freeman who made a jump cut to the outside and dove into the endzone to give the Falcons a 7-0 lead. The second score was a perfectly executed seam route from Ryan to tight end Austin Hooper in the back of the endzone with a defender draped all over him. Their final score of the half came off an unlikely pick 6 off of Brady by corner Robert Alford, a play that seemingly demoralized the Patriots faithful.
At the very end of the half, the Patriots did kick a field goal to cut the lead to 18 points, but it looked bleak for the four-time Super Bowl champs entering the locker room.
But when you watched the game, knowing the Pats and the championship blood that they are covered in, you knew the game wasn’t over. It was as if, in the minds of many fans, that we were almost expecting the Pats to at least make a game of it, if not actually win.
This theory was tested right out of the shoot in the third quarter when at the 8:42 mark, running back Tevon Coleman took a toss to the right side and breezed into the endzone, giving the Falcons a 28-3 lead, by far the biggest deficit the Pats have had to overcome in their Super Bowl history.
It was at this point that Atlanta was celebrating, Boston was having a heart attack, but the real football fans knew that the game was far from over.
By the end of the third quarter, the Patriot offense had started to find its groove.
Brady started connecting on intermediate routes bit by bit to receivers Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Malcolm Mitchell, and running back James White who would prove to be a huge factor by the game’s end.
At the end of the drive, it was White who ran the ball in for the first New England touchdown, cutting the lead to 28-9 after a missed extra point.
So we enter the fourth, and although the score is in Atlanta’s favor, the momentum isn’t and the Patriots began to look more and more like the team that we all expected to show up.
The fourth quarter was a mix of Tom Brady driving the offense down the field while the Falcons offense continued to shoot themselves in the foot. New England cut the lead to 28-12 after driving the field and only settling for a field goal early in the quarter.
Over the next few possessions, the Falcons lost themselves the game just as much as the Patriots won it.
A key moment came during the fourth, after the Patriots had converted that field goal, where Matt Ryan dropped back and was strip- sacked by linebacker Donte Hightower and the fumble was recovered by the Patriots.
That play would set up another New England drive down the field that was capped off by a Danny Amendola score off a quick out route in the endzone. They would then convert the two point conversation off a direct snap to James White who fought his way into the endzone to cut the deficit to 28-20 just about halfway through the fourth.
The next possession, the Falcons seemed to have iced the game thanks to an incredible catch by Julio Jones who stretch out over a New England defender, tiptoed the sideline and got two feet in to make the grab with just over four minutes left in the fourth. However, the ensuing plays spelled disaster for the Falcons as Matt Ryan was sacked twice for large gains to bring it to a fourth and 33 to go where they had to punt the ball and put it back in the hands of Brady and the offense.
Down 28-20, and Brady has the drive of his life. The highlight of the drive came in one of the. Easy catches in NFL history as Brady threw the ball into the middle of the field after being pressured and Julian Edelman makes a catch that bounces off a defenders hands, bounces off his leg as it’s coming down and just an inch off the ground, Edelman snags the ball and maintains possession for a huge gain and breakthrough play. This play would lead to a James White rushing touchdown and Danny Amendola two-point conversion that would tie the game up and send it into overtime.
Naturally, New England got the ball first in the overtime period, drove the field once more and the Super Bowl was won off a toss to James White on the right side, who fought off multiple defenders and plunged into the endzone for the Super Bowl winning score.
With that the comeback was complete and an already legendary legacy was cemented even further where there is no doubt in anyone’s mind who the greatest are.
Coming back from 25 down in the Super Bowl after being criticized for so long about Deflategate, being suspended for four games, still leading your team to a 14-2 record without your top target and now, the man who gave you that suspension has to hand you the biggest trophy of them all, acknowledging your greatness this season.
To me, it doesn’t get any better than that and as much as Brady wants to deny that it had any motivational influence on his play this year, he’s lying and it felt good to watch him prosper and come out on top in record-setting way.
Brady finished the game 43-62 throwing for a Super Bowl record 466 yards and two scores to earn his fourth Super Bowl MVP and Fifth title overall, both the most all time.
A storybook ending to a season that can become a movie script and this, its final scene: The Greatest Super Bowl Ever.
What are your thoughts on the Patriots’ Super Bowl Win? Let’s talk about it here or find me on Twitter @Phenombc3