Super Bowl LI will go down as one of the greatest moments in Boston sports history, one of the darkest moments in Atlanta sports history, and as the most magnificent comeback ever seen in the National Football League. But for the better part of the game, it didn’t look like Tom Brady would be a member of the team getting fitted for Super Bowl rings this year.
New England Patriots fans sat watching in despair as the clock and the massive dreams of another Super Bowl victory began to fade. And then the magic happened. Brady led the charge as the Patriots completed an epic comeback to push overtime, where James White punched in the winning touchdown ending the Atlanta Falcons fairy tale hopes without affording their offense the opportunity to respond.
New England Patriots Super Bowl LI Takeaways
Atlanta’s Pass Defense Fell Apart Right When New England’s Offense Came Together
Tom Brady and the Patriots were finally able to get their passing game going after struggling for much of the first three quarters. With rare drops from the likes of Chris Hogan and others, Brady having some accuracy issues, and the run game being virtually nonexistent due to Atlanta’s solid defense early on, it was crucial to get the passing game going.
As expected, Brady and the offense were able to make the necessary adjustments and finally get the ball moving, especially in the red zone. After an unimpressive passing performance in the first half and most of the third quarter, the offensive unit hit its stride and Brady ended the game with 466 passing yards, and completed 43 of 62 passes.
New England’s Defense Came To Win The Second Half
Had New England’s defense not shown up in spectacular fashion after allowing one last Atlanta touchdown with 8:31 left in the third quarter, Sunday’s game would have been over fast. A popular misconception following the Super Bowl is that Matt Ryan and Atlanta completely choked the game on their own accord, when in reality it was the New England defense that completely shifted the course of events in this game.
The Patriots put together a comeback for the ages, but the best part wasn’t just watching New England’s offense put up those numbers in pursuit of such an amazing comeback. What is most amazing is that the Patriots defense, who had been run over all game long, had the resolve to come back after halftime and limit Atlanta’s historically productive offense to seven points in the second half.
Julian Edelman’s Magic
New England fans erupted when Julian Edelman made an enormous circus catch that moved New England forward to the Atlanta 41-yard line with 2:23 left to go in the fourth quarter with the Patriots still down by eight points. Although an incompletion on first down wouldn’t have been the end of all hope, the lob pass to the middle of the field was sharply reminiscent of that painful moment against the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII, where New England’s dreams were crushed by David Tyree’s ridiculous helmet catch that would lead to the winning score.
Similar to the Giants after Tyree’s catch in the waning moments of that game, Edelman’s catch was the final spark needed for New England to overcome the odds. Julian Edelman’s catch in this game is a perfect embodiment of the never-say-die attitude that is seen throughout the entire New England organization and it will be a sports moment that lives on forever.
The conversation after the Super Bowl could be vastly different as of this moment. Brady’s Super Bowl record could be 4-3 at the hands of an Atlanta blow out and much would be said in opposition to his case for Greatest of All Time. But instead, thanks to an emotional display of determination and grit, the conversation will stand as an examination of Tom Brady’s 5-2 Super Bowl record, with the fifth ring being the reward for leading the greatest NFL comeback of all time. Boston is still rejoicing now, but Brady, the Patriots and their fans want a another Lombardi Trophy.