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The Mass Media

Unprecedented Comeback Gives Pats Fifth Super Bowl Win

The Super Bowl is one of the most overall captivating events in American media. From the commercials to the halftime show, there’s something in it for everyone. That being said, the game above all else is truly something to behold. From memorable moments like the David Tyree catch and Malcolm Butler’s interception to Scott Norwood’s missed field goal, it is easy to understand why so many fans hold this annual spectacle near and dear to their hearts.

However, Super Bowl 51 last Sunday night was without question a game for the history books, one that will be discussed for generations and, for many, remembered as the greatest Super Bowl of all time.

The game had its fair share of initial appeal entering the night. It was New England vs Atlanta, after all. The league’s two best offenses were playing for the NFL’s top crown, not to mention the tons of narratives going off of that: perennial MVP candidates Tom Brady and Matt Ryan facing off; two head coaches at opposite ends of their respective careers; and two defenses that had been underrated all season long. However, the talking point was the offense of each team. 

The first quarter could have fooled anyone of that, as neither team got anything going in the first quarter. It wasn’t until the second quarter when things went bad for New England, when running back Legarrette Blount fumbled the ball, which was recovered by Atlanta.

The Falcons then scored on the ensuing drive when Devonta Freeman ran the ball in for a touchdown. New England was thwarted on their next possession, as they were forced to punt. Matt Ryan drove his team downfield with some nice passes to Julio Jones, and then finished off the drive with a 19-yard TD pass to Austin Hooper to go up 14-0. The Patriots were left scrambling for answers as Brady attempted to get his team back in the game. New England was deep into Atlanta territory when Brady threw an interception to Robert Alford that was returned for a touchdown. The Patriots got one more shot at the end zone late in the first half, but had to settle for a Stephen Gostkowski FG to make it 21-3 at the half.

The odds were still not in New England’s favor, as Atlanta had the ball to start. And according to ESPN, the Falcons had a 96.4 percent chance of winning the game. Atlanta was forced to punt on their first drive after the half, giving New England a glimmer of hope. However, the Patriots would also punt on their next possession, leading to an Atlanta TD to make the score 28-3. After the touchdown, ESPN gave Atlanta a 99.5 percent chance of winning. New England responded with a touchdown on the next drive, as James White caught a five-yard pass from Brady. However, Gostkowski missed the extra point, an alarming trend Pats fans had seen from him all season. Despite the missed point, this is when everything started to go right for the Patriots. With the score now 28-9, The New England defense forced Atlanta to punt on their next possession, leading to a Stephen Gostkowski FG to make it 28-12.

Atlanta got the ball back, but Ryan was strip-sacked for a fumble, which was recovered by the Patriots’ Alan Branch. The Patriots were left with an excellent field position on the Falcons’ 25-yard line. Brady hit Danny Amendola for a six-yard touchdown pass, and then James White converted on a two-point conversion attempt to make it 28-20 Atlanta.

Atlanta got the ball back with just under six minutes to go, and was able to drive the ball down field. Ryan converted on a 39-yard pass to Devonta Freeman, and then a 27-yard pass to Julio Jones. Just as Atlanta was in field goal range, things went awry. Ryan was sacked by Trey Flowers for a 12-yard loss, pushing Atlanta back to the New England 35. After that, Ryan completed a pass for a first down, but the play was called back on an offensive holding on Atlanta. The next pass went incomplete, and the Falcons were forced to punt, setting up the stage for Tom Brady to once again shine on the big stage.

Brady made quick passes for first downs all over the field, utilizing James White, Chris Hogan, and, of course, Julian Edelman. At 2:28 of the fourth quarter, Edelman made the play of the game, catching a deflected pass that missed hitting the ground by bouncing off Robert Alford’s leg. Edelman was able to grab the ball and secure it as it was just an inch away from hitting the ground. Atlanta challenged the call on the field, but it was upheld after official review, costing them their final timeout. This set up Brady to get New England into scoring position. The Patriots got inside the 10-yard line, allowing James White to rush up the middle for a touchdown, making it 28-26.

After that came the difficult part. New England would have to get their second two-point conversion. The Patriots lined up, and Brady took the snap. Brady hit Amendola to his left, who drove into the end zone, just getting the ball over the goal line. A flag was thrown, but it was on Atlanta, so the points stood. Atlanta got the ball back but couldn’t do anything with it, keeping the score at 28-28 and forcing overtime.

This marked the first time the Super Bowl went into over time.

After the Patriots won the coin toss, OT started with the Patriots on their own 25 yard line. New England moved the ball methodically effortlessly down the field, with Brady hitting White, Edelman, Bennett, and Amendola for 10-plus yard pickups. Brady got the team into field goal range, and then lobbed a pass to Martellus Bennett on the two-yard line, who was interfered with on the play. The flag was thrown and the Patriots were given the ball on the two-yard line. At this point, New England executed every single following play to perfection. The first pass went incomplete, but then James White ran the ball into the right side. This finally gave New England the touchdown, making them Super Bowl Champions for the fifth time while completing the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history, and arguably in the history of the NFL.

The Patriots entered the season with something to prove. After Brady’s suspension, many counted New England out of it. They won three out of the first four games without Brady, silencing the doubters, and then won 14 of the next 15 games en route to a Lombardi Trophy. Brady lost out on League MVP honors, but won Super Bowl MVP honors, setting Super Bowl records for completions and passing yards. Brady and Bill Belichick each set records for most Super Bowl wins at their positions.
Super Bowl 51 will go down as one of the most historic and memorable games in the history of professional sports. Brady and Belichick adding even more notches to their belts is just an exclamation point on such a benchmark evening for the NFL. The Patriots historic run of success over the last 16 years is unparalleled and shows no signs of slowing down. As long as the coach and quarterback stick around, it will never be safe to bet against the Patriots.