Super Bowl LI was the best game we’ve seen in a very, very long time. Like any other game, there was a lot to take away from this one. Here’s what I came away with after watching another historic performance by Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
I’m pretty sure majority of the people watching the Super Bowl probably figured it was over after the Atlanta Falcons took a 28-3 lead in the third quarter. First, if you’re a Chargers fan and you thought this, you need to be ashamed of yourself. Did this season teach you anything at all? No game is truly over until there’s no time left on the clock and one team has outscored the other.
Anyways, the Chargers have a long way to go before they get to the big stage, so let’s get to the point.
Feb 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) reacts during the third quarter against the New England Patriots during Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
The Atlanta Falcons made things difficult on themselves.
You can look at how the game unfolded last night from many different angles. One thing that definitely stood out to me was the fact that the Atlanta offense seemed to be overthinking situations at a terrible time.
The most glaring mishap, in my opinion, came in the fourth quarter. On third down from their own 36 yard-line, Atlanta needed one yard. ONE YARD. Keep in mind, both Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman ran the ball very effectively to that point in the game. But the Falcons ultimately decided to throw the ball for whatever strange reason, and they ended up paying for it. Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower came flying off the edge, sacked Matt Ryan and forced a fumble that would be recovered by the Patriots’ defense.
The play was momentum-changing, for sure. It felt like the beginning of the inevitable collapse for Atlanta. Before the fumble, the Falcons led 28-12 with a little over eight minutes remaining in the fourth. ONE YARD on third-and-1 would have ran a good amount of time off of the clock and put the Patriots in an almost impossible position to come back from that kind of deficit with time winding down.
Listen, I get it. I get you putting the ball in the hands of the league’s MVP, trusting him to make a play. But, it’s one yard. Worst-case scenario, the Patriots get a stop and force you to punt. I bet you’d rather have that happen than to just hand the ball and great field position to a guy who’s won four (now five) Super Bowls.
Feb 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (11) catches a tipped pass just off the turf against the Atlanta Falcons in the fourth quarter during Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Obviously, health matters.
Each team went into this game without one of their best players. Atlanta was without cornerback Desmond Trufant, who’s considered to be one of the better young corners in all of football. The Patriots were without All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski as well.
However, despite each team missing an important piece, both New England and Atlanta were two of the more healthier teams in the entire league heading into the game. Although there were seven players on the Patriots final injury report before the game and three on Atlanta’s, no player was ruled “out” due to injury.
As a matter of fact, the Falcons were the ONLY team to start the same five offensive linemen in every game this season. In a game where injuries happen at such a high rate, having all of your best linemen for every game is impressive.
I know the mantra around the NFL on this subject is “next man up,” but it definitely helps to have your best players available, especially when it counts the most.
Besides, who would want to see a Falcons-Patriots Super Bowl without the likes of Tom Brady or Julio Jones anyway?
Feb 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrates a two-point conversion against the Atlanta Falcons in the fourth quarter during Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Betting against Tom Brady isn’t the wisest thing to do.
Even if you don’t like him, you have to respect what Brady has done. This guy has been nothing short of great on the biggest stages for what seems like forever now.
First off, just getting to seven Super Bowls is really, really impressive. Most quarterbacks can only dream of having that kind of success. Then, once you factor in that he’s won five of the seven times he’s been to the big game, there’s really not much room to hate on what he does on the field.
Every time we find a way to count the Patriots out, he gives us double the amount of reasons as to why we should never do such a thing. Staging the largest comeback in Super Bowl history on Sunday was just the latest example.
Off the field is another story. People hate players for off-the-field things all the time. That’s nothing new. But strictly based off on-field performances, Brady is the best to ever do it.