Super Bowl 51 had plenty of stories going into Sunday’s culmination of the NFL season. People thought it could be the highest scoring game ever. The Atlanta Falcons were the upstarts and the New England Patriots were going for official G.O.A.T. status with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady going to another championship game looking to collect another ring. People made it about politics, offense vs. defense, the regular season MVP looking to finish things off in grand style and the fun, high scoring Atlanta team rising up against the Patriots and their way. For all the talk of how the past season played out – Deflategate, Colin Kaepernick’s protest and the low ratings – the 51st Super Bowl was going to deliver big.
And it did; although you’ll definitely get very different answers from fans of each team. For the Falcons, it looked like vindication. The team’s defense showed up, slowed things down, beat up on Brady and kept up up on the pressure. For the mighty Patriots, it looked like a beating the likes of which they rarely see. After years of being the team you could usually count on seeing in the last game of the NFL season, it was hardly business as usual – until they came back. Ultimately, the score was 34 to 28 in the Patriots’ favor.
Starting off with a tight, scoreless first quarter, the Falcons ruled the second, ending the half leading 21 to New England’s single field goal. Atlanta’s defense looked like the same dominant unit that shut down Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship, except this time Brady was the victim.
The game mostly continued that way through three quarter. Brady couldn’t connect with favorite target Julian Edelman, when the Pats did get into the end zone, Stephen Gostkowski missed the extra point, hitting the right upright. Atlanta was dominant throughout the bulk of the game, until the 4th quarter when New England started what looked like a comeback, getting within a score with just under six minutes left in the game. Brady and his offense took every opportunity they could to strike, inching closer to their opponents in a way that almost looked like they had some magical power to slow things down and make the plays they needed to come from behind and pull off the type of victory nobody saw coming. Sure, New England was favored going into the game, but a comeback, especially from multiple scores down, wasn’t what anybody predicted.
But would it be that shocking? New England’s entire season was based on a comeback. The question surrounding Brady coming back from a Deflategate suspension, if those four games would be the beginning of the end. There was no way they could come back from that, right?
And then they did. Just like they would in Houston.
A James White rushing touchdown after the two-minute warning led to a two-point conversion punched in by Danny Amendola, and with under a minute remaining, the Super Bowl was tied and on its way to the first overtime in the history of the NFL championship game.
With the pacing of the game in the early parts, it felt as if it was over in the blink of an eye. Brady and his offense operating fast and efficiently, scoring a touchdown on the team’s first drive to seal the deal. That was it, the end. The New England Patriots executed a comeback for the ages, and for the team, Belichick and Brady, they all sit alone at the top.