Less than 3 minutes before halftime, the Patriots were on the Atlanta 23 yard line looking to finally score. Instead of scoring Brady threw an uncharacteristic interception to Robert (flop hard) Alford who returned it back 82 yards for a touchdown. Falcons 21, Patriots 0.
The game was over. There was no way the Patriots could come back and even make the game interesting. They added a field goal to the score going into half time losing 21 – 3. As Lady Gaga “jumped” from the open roof of NRG Stadium, I contemplated retiring to bed. The only reason that I didn’t is due to the fact I was working on the score sheets for Week 15 in the NBA. I figured I would get those out of the way since no more basketball games were to be played that night.
Once the third quarter started, things got worse for the Pats. Both teams punted on their first possession and the Falcons scored a touchdown on their second offensive drive putting them ahead by a score of 28 – 3. That was the final time the Falcons scored.
The third quarter was weird for the Patriots. They finally scored a touchdown but Gostkowski missed the extra point leading the 28 – 9 score. They then attempted an onside kick that Gostkowski touched illegally giving the Falcons great field position. This is where I really thought it was over. Going for an onside kick in the third quarter is an act of desperation.
But somehow the Patriots kept stopping the Falcons. After the Falcons punted, the Pats scored a field goal . The lead dropped to 16 points with 9:44 left in the 4th quarter. On the next possession, Matt Ryan was sacked and stripped by Hightower, giving the ball back to the Pats. It only took 5 plays for Brady to drive down the field to score a touchdown which was followed by a 2 point conversion. Lead down to 8.
The Falcons offense finally got the ball back and were ready to kill the comeback by the Pats. After a Freeman reception and run, Matt Ryan made a beautiful pass to Julio Jones who made one of the best catches that you will ever see. Julio used his size to reach the ball, and drug both of his feet before falling out of bounds. This was supposed to be the game ender. The Falcons had a first down on the Pats 22 yard line with 4:47 left in the game with a 8 point lead. A field goal would have all but sealed the victory.
Next play, Freeman loses a yard on a run making it 2nd and 11 on the 23 yard line. Matt Ryan dropped back on second down and was sacked by Flowers for a loss of 12 yards. Not great for the Falcons, but whatever, Bryant is a good kicker and they were still within his range. On 3rd and 23 Ryan completed a pass to Sanu but Falcons offensive lineman Matthews was called for holding on Chris Long. That’s a 10 yard penalty knocking the Falcons out of field goal range. Ryan threw an incompletion on 3rd and 33 to Gabriel forcing the Falcons to punt and to give Tom Brady the ball with over minutes left.
Brady drove the Pats down the field 91 yards on 10 plays ending with a touchdown pass to James White. On this drive, Edelman made a catch on a ball that was thrown into triple coverage and bounced on Alford’s knee, and hovered above the ground long enough for Edelman to grab it. Jesus Christ this catch was insane, it makes Tyree’s look elementary. Still down by two points, the Pats went for 2 to complete the improbably comeback. Brady completed a pass to Amendola who was able to cross the goal line before being pushed back by several defenders. Game tied, 28 – 28.
With less than a minute left, both teams received the ball before the end of regulation. The Pats attempted a last second trick play featuring a fake knee which only ended in Dion Lewis getting injured. The Pats won the coin toss in the first ever Super Bowl over time, received the ball on offense and drove the ball down the field easily for a touchdown to win the game 34 – 28. Holy. Shit.
The Julio Jones catch that should have led to a field goal for the Falcons was incredible. It will forever be overshadowed by the circus catch Edelman completed over the bodies of 3 Falcons defensive backs.
The Possession Disparity
The Patriots were able to score 31 unanswered points because the Falcons defense was tired and overworked. The Pats had the ball on offense for 40:31 compared to the Falcons who only had the ball for 23:27. The Pats ran 93 offensive plays. Ninety fucking three plays! That is just brutal for the Falcon defenders. The Falcons only ran 46 offensive plays, almost 50 less than the Pats.
Brady unsurprisingly won the MVP breaking single game Super Bowl records for most completions, attempts, and passing yards. He finished the game with 466 passing yards on 43 completions, on 62 attempts for 2 touchdowns and one interception. The real MVP for the Pats was James White who caught 14 passes for 110 yards and 1 touchdown, along with 29 yards rushing and 2 rushing touchdowns (including the game winning touchdown in overtime).
The moment we all wanted
I do not root for any single team, but I wanted the Patriots to win the Super Bowl to witness the handing off of the Lombardi Trophy from Roger Goodell to Robert Kraft and Tom Brady. We all got to see that moment and it met all expectations. As Goodell awkwardly presented the trophy to Robert Kraft, I could barely hear his poorly spoken speech as the volume of the booing from the fans was overwhelming. God it was glorious. Goodell then bailed so fast.
The night ended with Terry Bradshaw being old and goofy talking to Belichick, Brady, and White. What a game. I don’t know what else to discuss about the best Super Bowl ever played. A huge comeback, great catches, leading to the worst possible scenario for Roger Goodell. Tom Brady now has 5 rings and 4 Super Bowl MVP’s. The dude is fucking good. What a great ending to a mediocre season.