After a wild night of drama and excitement, there is one more team standing over all the others. For the fifth time since the turn of the century, the New England Patriots are the Super Bowl Champions. In what could be described as the most impressive comeback (or spectacular collapse) in sports history, Tom Brady put the team on his back and pulled off the ultimate shocker. By a score of 34-28, the Patriots scratched and clawed their way back from an impossible deficit to knock off the Atlanta Falcons, whose offense absolutely disappeared in the second half.
Going into the game, by a slim margin, the Patriots were favored to win. Judging by the first half performance of both teams, most of whom put their money on the Patriots were definitely sweating. After an even matched first quarter where neither offense put up much of a fight, Matt Ryan and the Falcons exploded in the second, dancing through New England’s defense and putting 14 points on the board with relative ease. However, the figurative dagger of the half came when Tom Brady threw a pick-six while in Falcons territory. The interception would put the Falcons up by three whole touchdowns, leaving the Patriots scrambling to get points, as a late field goal was the only way they were able to muster up any points by the end of the half.
With all hope seemingly lost, the Patriots’ defense came out for the second half and (like clockwork) allowed the Falcons to post another touchdown. Down by three scores, the case for the Patriots was slowly slipping (The largest deficit to be overcome in the Super Bowl was only 10 points, which was done by the Patriots when they defeated the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX). However, there is a reason that Tom Brady is considered the Greatest Quarterback of All-Time, and it’s not by being blown out in the Super Bowl. Something eventually clicked for the quarterback, and a long drive led the Pats into the endzone for the first time of the game. A missed extra point by veteran kicker Stephen Gostkowski left the Patriots trailing but not out.
In the fourth quarter, Brady stepped up big time. After Gostkowski made another field goal, the Falcons needed to do something to combat an epic collapse. While driving down the field, the Falcons were within field goal range, but the Patriots’ defense was ready for them. Linebacker Dont’a Hightower found his way into the pocket and executed a beautiful strip sack on Matt Ryan, giving the Patriots possession once more. It did not take long for Brady to find the end zone, as a Danny Amendola reception gave the Patriots a chance. A successful two-point conversion by running back James White put the Patriots down by only eight points. There wasn’t much for Patriots fans to be excited for, however. The Falcons were looking like they were going to solidify a victory. An insanely improbable sideline catch by Julio Jones put the Falcons in very good field position, but that wasn’t enough to stop the #1 defense in the NFL. A sack and a holding penalty put the Falcons well out of field goal range and left them with no choice but to punt. Now, down by eight, Brady proved why he is the greatest quarterback to ever step onto a football field.
Ten plays were all Tom Brady needed to get down field. However, two plays will stand out among all of the rest. One being the obvious game-tying touchdown, but the other is the greatest catch of all-time made by Julian Edelman. A tipped ball that looked like a routine incompletion became much more as it was hit just high enough for Edelman to dive for the ball –while surrounded by three defenders– and somehow prevent it from hitting the turf. A literal game of inches; Edelman alone saved the game and helped further improve Brady’s legacy. After reaching the goal line, James White once again found his way into the end zone. A pass to Danny Amendola, where the ball barely broke the plane, tied the game up at 28. An absolute collapse by Matt Ryan and the Falcons fueled a Patriots comeback that will be remembered for decades to come.
Overtime was short, sweet, and solidified a legacy. After winning the coin toss and electing to receive the ball, the Patriots made quick work of the Falcons. Four minutes were all that Brady needed as he led his team down the field, in turn making the Falcons defense look silly in the process. Finding their way into Falcon territory, a costly pass interference penalty by Falcons Linebacker De’Vondre Campbell gave the Patriots the ball on the Falcons two-yard line. It took two more plays for James White to break the plane of the end zone, and seal the game for the Patriots. Patriots win 34-28.
As the confetti fell and the celebration continued, many things were made certain. Through all of the debating, through all of the controversy that he has been through his entire career, there is one truth that many do not want to accept; Tom Brady is the Greatest Quarterback of All-Time. That was by far the most exuberant climax to a Super Bowl imaginable, and it was led by the best player to ever line up under center. I tip my cap to you, Mr. Brady.