On Sunday night viewers around the world collectively screamed a variety of four-letter words at the top of their lungs. Patriot fans yelled “YEAH!” While every other football fan yelled ____! (you can fill in the blank). In a game 51 years in the making, the Atlanta Falcon and New England Patriots tore the house down in Houston’s NRG Stadium. Not only did Super Bowl LI break millions of hearts, but also 24 Super Bowl records, including the first Super Bowl ever to go into overtime.
Tom Brady won one for the thumb as he has won more Super Bowls than any other player in NFL history. He has enough diamond on his fingers to knock out a heavyweight boxer. Now football fans around the globe are asking the question, does this solidify Brady as the greatest player of all-time? Does this make Patriots coach Bill Belichick the greatest coach of all-time? Does this make the 21st century New England Patriots the greatest dynasty of all-time? Without further ado let’s get to the game that goes a long way towards answering these questions.
The game itself got off to a slow start, with neither team scoring a single point in a first quarter that, quite frankly flew by rather quickly. Early in the second quarter New England running back LeGarrette Blount fumbled the football on the 29-yardline, where Atlanta defensive back Robert Alford pounced on it. In just 5 plays Atlanta drove down the field with Devonta Freeman carrying the ball 3 times in a row for 29 yards, capped off with a 5-yard touchdown. With Atlanta firing the first shot, Super Bowl LI began heating up. The Patriots went three-and-out, punting the ball back to the Falcons. Once again the Falcons took only 5 play to get into the end zone with Matt Ryan connecting with tight end Austin Hooper for a 19-yard touchdown pass. The Patriots tried to fight back, but a 12-play 37-yard drive that consumed 6:27 off the game clock ended in an 82-yard pick-six for Robert Alford. The Falcons had built a 21-0 lead, but Stephen Gostkowski would get the Patriots on the scoreboard with a 41-yard field goal at the end of the half.
In the third quarter, Matt Ryan threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Tevin Coleman to extend the Falcons lead to 25 points, a deficit that no team has ever come back from in the first 50 Super Bowls. With 8:36 left in the third quarter it seemed that Atlanta had the game well in hand, unfortunately for the Falcons, the game snowballed from there. After The touchdown pass to Coleman the Falcons would run 16 plays for 69 yards with 6:55 time of possession, while the Patriots would run 49 plays for 356 yards with a time of possession of 20:28 (including overtime). Gostkowski would boot a 33-yard field goal and Brady would hit receiver Danny Amendola with a touchdown pass, and running back James White with two touchdown passes. White also ran the ball in for a touchdown as the Patriots fought back to force the first Overtime in Super Bowl history in dramatic fashion. During the 25-point rally, Julian Edelman continued the long storied tradition of unbelievable catches when he caught a pass from Brady just centimeters off the ground as it bounced off of Robert Alford’s cleat.
The Patriots would get the ball to begin overtime and would drive 80-yards, capped off with a 2-yard touchdown run from James White (the irony of New England winning the Super Bowl off a 2-yard run is not lost on Seattle fans). Tom Brady won the Super Bowl M.V.P. after completing 43 of 62 passes for 466 yards 2 touchdowns and 1 interception, along with a 15-yard rush. To say that this win was the perfect way to bounce back from the deflate-gate scandal would be fitting, but don’t say it was his motivation as Belichick considers that an insult. Belichick, by the way, is now worried that his team is “five weeks behind” in preparation for the 2017 season.