By Conor Oliver
The New England Patriots beat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28. Across the board, records were broken, with the unexpected and even the seemingly impossible happening. Fifty years of the Super Bowl passed before we had the privilege of the first ever overtime contest.
It was fitting then that we also witnessed the greatest comeback in NFL history. It was not just a notable comeback, it was an impossible series of extraordinary plays by New England to recover from a 25-point deficit. No team had ever recovered to win a Super Bowl when trailing by even 14 points.
While Atlanta’s failure was catastrophic, the game will be remembered as the pinnacle of Tom Brady’s decorated career. At the age of 39, he has won his fifth Super Bowl, surpassing all other quarterbacks for most Super Bowl wins and Super Bowl MVPs (with 4). With Brady, the Patriots have created one of the greatest winning formulas in sports history.
This Super Bowl has cemented Brady’s legacy as the best quarterback to ever walk the earth. Perhaps the biggest takeaway from this Super Bowl is his ability to perform in the clutch, orchestrating their remarkable comeback after the entire world had dismissed them and given the championship to the Falcons. He is the most clutch player in football history, and perhaps the most clutch player in all of sports. During their comeback, they ran 29 plays – and picked up 24 first downs. Super Bowl LI will go down in history.
By Rob Nightingale
Wow! Rarely does a sporting event leave me completely speechless, yet Super Bowl LI accomplished that and then some. Last night’s game is officially a “where were you when” sporting moment, joining most recently the Cubs World Series victory and Lebron James’ Game 7 block. The Patriot’s astonishing second half comeback firmly cemented Tom Brady and Bill Belichick as the greatest of all time. There is no argument anymore. Period.
And while Tom Brady was beyond unbelievable in the fourth quarter, the Falcons undoubtedly choked. Atlanta’s play calling late in the game seemed as if they were actively trying to take the title of worst choke in history from the Golden State Warriors or Jordan Spieth at last year’s Masters.
With time running out at the end of the fourth quarter, the Falcons seemed to have the game sealed. Julio Jones made the greatest catch we will ever forget, reminiscent of Jermaine Kearse in the Super Bowl two years ago. After the incredible grab, the Falcons simply had to run three times, kick a reasonable field goal with one of the NFL’s best kickers, and take an eleven point lead with less than three minutes to play; even football novices would have known to do that.
However, the Falcons crumbled thanks to consecutive horrible decisions and punted the ball back to Tom Brady with far too much time left.
A few plays later, Julian Edelman’s absurd catch, a catharsis for all Patriots fans watching, signaled that a higher power was once again on New England’s side. The comeback would not be stopped.
By Charlie Enberg
I am not going to lie: I stopped watching at the beginning of the third quarter. The Falcons offense looked unstoppable and the Patriots looked like the New York Jets (As a Jets fan, I can mock them).
On top of that, the largest deficit ever overcome in a Super Bowl was by a margin of 10 points and, with a quarter and a half left, the Patriots found themselves down by 25. All things considered, you cannot blame me for prematurely declaring the Falcons victorious.
However, the second half was a tale of two teams for Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons. After one exciting drive, their offense went dormant.
Ryan struggled to complete passes and string together meaningful drives, while Brady began to slowly chip away at the deficit. With a lot of help from his powerful running back trio (White, Lewis and Blount), and David Tyree-esque heroics from Julian Edelman, the Pats still found themselves in a deep hole; the Falcons had the ball well-within field goal range with a little over 3:45 left on the clock. And then the Falcons choked, badly. They gave up a punishing sack that pushed them back 12 yards and on the next play they get flagged for holding and got pushed back 10 more yards. Facing 3rd and 33, they were forced to punt and the Patriots marched down the field, scored a touchdown, converted the two-point conversion, forced the first ever overtime game in Super Bowl history, won the coin toss, scored again and made history.