Whether a Patriots supporter, a Falcons supporter or a fan of any other team in the National Football League, Sunday’s Super Bowl may have shifted opinion closer to fact: Tom Brady is the greatest football player of all time.
The New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons put on a Super Bowl performance that will be talked about for many years to come. With the Falcons dominating the Patriots 28-3 at the 8:31 mark in the third quarter, the Patriots orchestrated a magnificent comeback and scored the next 25 points, tying the game at 28-28. In the first overtime game in Super Bowl history, the Patriots won on their first drive in overtime on a James White touchdown run.
The first half of the game was a one-sided affair with the Atlanta Falcons scoring on both offense and defense (including an 82-yard interception return touchdown by Robert Alford). Led by the NFL Most Valuable Player Matt Ryan as quarterback for the Falcons, the Falcons were winning 21-0 with 2:21 remaining in the second quarter.
A Steven Gostkowski field goal for the Patriots halted the bleeding and the Falcons led at half-time 21-3. With the current Super Bowl being the sixth of his career, Tom Brady dug into his experience and flipped the switch after half-time.
As current Brandeis student Quinn Rickert ’19 pointed out, “It was like two separate blowouts in one game.” After a first half dominated by Atlanta, the Brady-led Patriots matched the Falcon’s firepower to even the game at 28-28 after regulation.
As overtime approached, there was an eerie feeling that the Patriots were not going to let the game slip away, and they most certainly did not. After winning the coin flip and receiving the ball first in overtime, it took the Patriots 3 minutes and 58 seconds to score the game-winning touchdown.
There were many stunning plays throughout the game; however, the play that proved the Patriots’ savvy was an interrupted pass that ended in completion between Brady and wide-receiver Julian Edelman. With 2:28 remaining in the fourth quarter, Brady fired a pass across midfield. A Falcons defender tipped the ball and, after the ball bobbled off a different Falcon’s cleat, Edelman scooped up the ball and completed the play. It was a classic “Julian Edelman catch.” While not a scoring play, it was moments such as these that defined the Patriots’ win.
The Patriots victory symbolized the pure resilience of the organization. After being plagued with the infamous “Deflategate” scandal, Brady was suspended for the first four games of the season. Bill Belichick prepared back-up quarterbacks Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brisset to fill the void of Brady’s absence and the two quarterbacks had a combined record of three wins and one loss.
In Brady’s week five return, he showed his form and dominated the Cleveland Browns 31-13. Momentum would reside with the Patriots throughout the season until taking a brief hiatus in the first half of the Super Bowl. However, Tom Brady knows a thing or two about winning Super Bowls.