by Kyle Kessell
In 50 years of Super Bowl play none of them compare to what took place in Houston this past Sunday. The anticipation was palpable as Matt Ryan was trying to lead his team to its first ever Lombardi trophy. Unfortunately for Ryan and the Falcons, they had Brady and Belichick of the Patriots standing in their way. The Pats were seeking their fifth title in less than 20 years and cementing Brady’s legacy as the greatest and most winning quarterback to play the game.
The game started out incredibly for the Falcons as they jumped out quick to a 21-point lead. All facets of their team were producing and did not look to have any flaws. Devonta Freeman rushed in for a touchdown to jump-start the scoring in the second quarter, and Ryan threw to rookie tight end, Austin Hooper, in the end zone to stretch the lead to 14-0. Tom Terrific was anything but in the first half as he was held to zero touchdowns and was picked off in Falcons territory by Mario Alford who took it 80 yards late in the first half to bolster Atlanta’s score to 21-0. The Pats were able to drive down the field and kick a field goal before the half ended to cut the deficit down to 17 points. New England was not out just yet and they went into the locker room, let Gaga sing, and made their adjustments for the second half.
The third quarter started out well for Atlanta as Ryan threw his second TD of the game to Telvin Coleman who scooted in for the six yard score adding to their already substantial lead, 28-3. No team has ever come back from a 25-point difference, but tonight was a night about history and the Pats were not going to lose another Super Bowl. The game plan was simple for New England; give the ball to James White in open space. Tom Brady had been getting roughed up in the pocket all game long so short and quick passes helped get the ball out of his hands and into the hands of his play makers. The Pats started moving the ball like they did in the first half, but started completing drives with short scores to White, Danny Amendola, a field goal by Stephen Gostkowski and White again. After being down 25 points, the Patriots scored 25 unanswered points to do the improbable and tie the game with less than a minute on the clock.
The game was sent into overtime where the Pats got the ball, moved down the field, and White punched in the winning score with a two-yard rush. This is the only time a Super Bowl has been won in overtime and the only time a team was able to come back after a 25 point deficit, largest to ever to be done in the Super Bowl era.
The saying goes; “Football is a game of inches,” and you hear it almost every game from the announcers. Joe Buck even said it during the broadcast, but it is also a game of momentum. New England had the momentum going into the fourth quarter, and even when Atlanta’s receiver, Julio Jones, made one the greatest catches in Super Bowl history to put the Falcons in field goal range, the momentum could not stay with Atlanta any longer. The Falcons had the opportunity after that catch to run the football, stay in field goal range and go up two possessions with less than four minutes left which could have put the game out of reach for New England. Instead, Ryan dropped back, got sacked and was pushed out of field goal range, settled for the punt and relied on their defense, which had been non-existent in the second half. One immaculate catch by Julian Edelman later, that will no doubt go in Patriot lore as “The Catch,” the life had been sucked out of Atlanta and the hopes of a championship were slowly but surely fading away into an alternate parallel universe.
Tom Brady will go down as the greatest to ever play the game, Belichick will go down as the greatest coach and everyone will forget about the cheating allegations because, of course, history is written by the victors and the Patriots are indeed just that, Victorious.