Here we are, nearly a week after Super Bowl LI, and I’m still in shock.
The New England Patriots defeated the Atlanta Falcons, 34-28 in overtime. Tom Brady was named Super Bowl MVP. And to think, with 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Patriots trailed 28-9.
Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 33-yard field goal with 9:44 left in the 4th to cut Atlanta’s lead to 28-12. But still, at that point, the Pats would need two touchdowns and a successful two-point conversion on each of those two touchdowns, just to tie the game at 28.
Let’s face it, if anybody was going to pull it off, it was going to be Brady. That’s honestly how I felt after Gostkowski’s second field goal of the game. I even felt that way at halftime, after Gostkowski’s first field goal of the game with two seconds left in the second quarter that made it a 21-3 game.
That’s right, trailing 21-3 at the half, I still felt as if the Patriots had a chance to win. I wasn’t happy, by any means, but I knew that Brady wasn’t going to go down like this.
Then the third quarter began. The Patriots forced the Falcons offense to a three-and-out on the first possession of the second half.
Here we go. This was it. The Patriots were going to march down the field and make it 21-10.
Not so fast.
As Julian Edelman dropped a pass right in his hands on 3rd-and-12 at their own 45-yard line, I started to lose hope. The Patriots had a golden opportunity to get back in the game, and instead, they went three-and-out.
Atlanta then drove 85 yards and scored its fourth touchdown of the game, taking a commanding 28-3 lead with 8:31 left in the third quarter.
If that wasn’t the moment I gave up on the game, then Julian Edelman’s incomplete cross-field double-pass on 3rd-and-3 during the ensuing possession was. Brady took the snap and threw it slightly behind him and to his left, where Edelman caught it and then sent a pass of his own across the field to a streaking Dion Lewis down the right sideline.
The incomplete pass brought up a 4th-and-3 at the Patriots 46-yard line. It also had me wondering how I could keep hope alive if the Pats had already given up. And to me — even though Edelman was a quarterback and college and has completed this type of pass before — if that’s the play they drew up on third down with the Super Bowl on the line, then they had essentially pulled out all the stops.
And if they couldn’t beat them with the kitchen sink, that would be the unfortunate end to the season.
Then Brady found Danny Amendola on 4th-and-3 for a first down. Seven plays later, James White scored the Patriots’ first touchdown of the game. When Gostkowski missed the extra point, I still didn’t feel too good while trailing 28-9 with two minutes left in the third quarter.
The Patriots forced the Falcons to punt, and Gostkowski’s second field goal to make it a 28-12 game with 9:44left had everyone playing out the scoring scenarios in their head.
“Get a turnover, score a quick touchdown and a two-point conversion, get the ball back, and score another touchdown with no time left, and tie the game with another two-point conversion.”
Almost as fast as you could play out that perfect scenario in your head, Dont’a Hightower hit Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan on 3rd-and-1 and forced a fumble, which was recovered by New England defensive lineman Alan Branch at the Falcons 25-yard line. And five plays later, Brady found Amendola for a touchdown with 5:56 left in the fourth quarter. Then, James White ran in a direct snap for a successful two-point conversion to make it a 28-20 game.
Time was still a factor. So when the Falcons drove down to the Patriots 22-yard line, it was a sobering moment, realizing that they were suddenly in field-goal range, and a field goal would have ended the game.
But after Trey Flowers sacked Ryan for a loss of 12 yards, and an offensive holding call pushed Atlanta back to the Patriots 45-yard line, a comeback was once again realistic.
Atlanta pinned the Patriots inside their own 10-yard line with a punt, giving Brady 3:30 to drive 91 yards, score a touchdown, and put in another two-point conversion.
That’s exactly what he did, and the Patriots tied the game at 28, sending it to overtime, where Brady cemented his legacy as the greatest of all time.
Brady led an eight-play, 75-yard drive and James White dove into the end zone, just far enough to get the ball to cross the goal line, and the Patriots completed the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history.
And yes, I’m still in shock.
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