Super Bowl LI holds its own in comparison to some of the greatest games of all time. A determined, dominant, and inspired Tom Brady, facing an energetic and emotional Falcons team looking to make their mark. Prior to kickoff, analysts and fans alike were expecting a neck-and-neck shootout that would put a cap on an extraordinary season.
The matchup exceeded expectations, setting several marks that have yet to be witnessed in the history of this amazing game. For the first time in Super Bowl history the game was forced into an overtime period- for the tremendous amount of excitement that was witnessed through regulation; it was only fitting. The unpredictable comeback characterized the Patriots determination to put their quarterback in a standalone position, being the only 5 time Super Bowl winning QB. Both sides were looking to make a statement, and it’s safe to say that New England reached beyond that.
Atlanta came out fighting in the first half playing stout man-to-man defense, and applying relentless pressure to an aged Brady. The young Falcons defensive unit managed to take the experienced veteran to the ground nine times throughout the game, equivalent to the amount of sacks allowed throughout the entirety of the 2016 regular season. The Patriots offense felt the pressure mounting as their offense struggled to get by, and eventually falling to a 25 point deficit.
As most of us know by now…. Never count out the New England Patriots. Belichick’s boys managed to mount the largest comeback in Super Bowl history. 25 points. How? Well, by simply doing what Bill Belichick does best; adapting (just ask Pete Carroll). Being able to make adjustments mid-game to expose the weaknesses from the schemes shown previously in the game. It’s the Patriot way, the very method that made this team the most hated, but successful sports team of the 21st century.
At the end of the day, we got more than what we could have bargained for. Brady becomes the winningest QB of the Super Bowl Era. We had huge plays from big name players like Julio Jones, and the spectacular catch made by Julian Edelman- which nearly solidified a Patriots win. The question has continuously been posed since the game end- did New England win that game in the second half, or did Atlanta let the Lombardi Trophy slip out of their hands? It would appear that Belichick made the necessary advances to put his team in the place to win. Being down 16 points nearing the end of the game would be nerve-racking for most head coaches; Belichick looked forward and laid the game plan down for his guys to get it done.
How many more will we get from this Super Bowl powerhouse? Can the Patriots stay in contention with the team they have? As long as Belichick stays at the helm, that team is in wonderful hands. As for Atlanta, does that young team have the potential to make it back to the end of the line? Atlanta was a formidable opponent for a team that is far from shy to winning the big games. The pieces seem to fit together in Dan Quinn’s scheme down in Georgia and he has high hopes for the future of his young and eccentric squad. Matt Ryan, the man who was known to choke, was able to shake his playoff demons and played a game that would be difficult to criticize.
As fans, we should be grateful for the show put on by these two squads, the future success of both of these teams seems to be nearly inevitable.