Greatest Super Bowl Ever?

Falcons Blow 28-3 Lead; Patriots in a League of Their Own

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Greatest Super Bowl Ever?

If you tuned into Super Bowl 51 with two and a half minutes to go in the first half, the score was 20-0, Falcons. Yes, Tom Brady and the Patriots were down, and they were down big. What may have been the biggest setback in Brady’s career set the stage for what is arguably the greatest comeback in the history of the NFL.

M.V.P. Matt Ryan and coach Dan Quinn were in control. Nothing could stop them right? Up 20-0 and about to kick the ball off to a Patriots offense that had already turned the ball over twice, this game seemed like a snooze fest. Uncharacteristic mistakes plagued New England in the first half and the Falcons capitalized, going into the second half with a 21-3 lead after Gostkowski (Patriots) kicked a field goal before the intermission. Ryan looked every bit the M.V.P. he was in the regular season, posting a completion percentage of 87.5% (or 7/8 attempts). Meanwhile, Brady looked out of sync, throwing his first career interception in the playoffs returned for a touchdown. Mind you, that is over the course of 34 games.

Tom Brady (left) and Matt Ryan (right)

The Falcons received the second half kickoff, marching right down the field where they left off in the first half, pushing their lead to 25-3. Teams who have led by this much have never lost a Super Bowl. The odds were doubly stacked against Brady in his quest to become the best to ever throw a ball in the N.F.L. when one considers that a team down double digits in the second half have never came back to win a Super Bowl.

But Tom Brady put on his cape.

With the Patriots at his back and record-breaking history in front of him, the quarterback battled his way to his fifth championship ring, . Every time Brady and Belichick got possession in the second half, they put the ball in the end zone. The win probability, per ESPN, was 99.6 percent in favor of the Falcons, substantiated after the fact that the Patriots cut the deficit to 16 with 9:44 left to go in the game. The next possession came, and tension grew in the building as the Patriots’ momentum seemed to be steamrolling the Falcons’ chances at victory, in typical Patriots’ fashion.

A fumble on the next Falcons’ possession put the pigskin back into Brady’s hands — 25 yards from pay dirt. Two minutes and 24 seconds later, a James White two-point conversion got the Patriots within one score. Disbelief was in the eyes of Falcons players, while hope was running rampant on the New England sidelines. The morale had shifted.  

But the next drive produced one of the best catches of the game, as Ryan delivered a strike to Julio Jones on the right sideline, plopping the Falcons in field goal range and seemingly dashing the hopes of Patriots players and fans alike.

Matt Ryan just had to hold onto the field position, and three points was all but secured. Then came Ryan’s fatal error: he gifted the Patriots 12 yards on a sack where he was blindsided by lineman Trey Flowers. To make matters worse, an offensive holding call on the next play pushed the Falcons out of Matt Bosher’s range, forcing them to give the ball back to Brady, setting the stage for vintage heroics out of the 39 year old.

In classic M.V.P. fashion, Brady was surgical in whipping the ball around the field, charging toward the game tying score and producing the first overtime period in the history of the Super Bowl. On this drive, Julian Edelman had what teammate Dont’a Hightower called, “. . .the best catch that I’ve ever seen.” After Danny Amendola converted the two-point attempt with one minute left in regulation, it seemed like fate was on New England’s side.

Overtime came, and heads was the call from the Patriots’ captains. The ref flipped, the coin fell, and heads it was. With Brady getting the ball back, it seemed scripted. Tom Brady was going to seal the deal. He composed a masterpiece of a game; history was already made.  He had already posted the most passing yards in a Super Bowl ever, at 466.  One touchdown was all that was needed to stand alone as the only quarterback to ever own five Super Bowl rings.

3 minutes and 52 seconds into the extra period, James White’s gutsy touchdown raised the Patriots into a league of their own. En route to winning his fifth Super Bowl ring, the afterthought from Michigan basked in the confetti as the Greatest Of All Time.