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Patriots vs. Falcons: Fan Notes from the Super Bowl

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Notes, musings, and observations from the New England Patriots' 34-28 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Wow.

Absolutely at a loss for words this morning, in every sense of the phrase. Not only is my voice completely shot from screaming, laughing, and crying last night, but I know that successfully breaking down this game is well, well beyond my skillset or abilities as a writer. I have absolutely zero chance of doing last night's game any justice. It was the greatest Super Bowl of all time, played by the greatest player of all time, and I, just like everyone else on the planet, had written the Patriots off when they were down 28-3 late in the 3rd quarter. I obviously should have known better, but I'm more than willing to admit when I'm wrong.

I'm also not alone in that I, just like everyone else in the Boston-area media this morning, had to completely rewrite this article on the fly. So what follows is little more than the bleary-eyed, exhausted, more than a little hung over, emotionally drained, glorious ramblings of a complete degenerate who has absolutely no idea what he's talking about.

In other words, business as usual.

  • To butcher a quote from one of my all-time favorite movies, The Shawshank Redemption: "when you're alone in your apartment, waiting for the game to start with nothing but your thoughts, time can draw out like a blade. Yesterday was one of the longest days of my life."
  • And it most certainly didn't get any shorter once the game started.I'd like to move that the Super Bowl be played the week following the conference championship games so the Patriots no longer have to deal with the bye week rust.
  • For a very long time, I was worried that the highlight of my night was going to be the Ving Rhames team intros. That was awesome.
  • You know what was a highlight of my night, even amid all the insanity on the field? That I didn't have to listen to Collinsworth in the booth. What a blessing.
  • That said, man would I have loved to hear him try and contain his anti-Patriots gum-flappery as Brady led the Patriots down the field for the win. Oh well. Maybe next year.
  • Coming into this game, I was nervous, but not nearly as nervous as I was for the Giants or the Seahawks. I couldn't quite figure out why; maybe it was just that I actually really like the Falcons as a franchise and knew I wouldn't be as upset if the Patriots lost the game? Whatever it was, that lack of nervousness turned quickly into despair after Blount fumbled and Atlanta marched right down the field and scored. I just got a sinking feeling that things just weren't going to go New England's way from that point on.
  • And with good reason, too. Let me throw up a few stats for you:
  • At one point Atlanta's win probability was 96.6%.
  • No team has ever given up a pick-six and won a Super Bowl.
  • Teams taking a 19 point lead into the 4th quarter are 93-0 all-time.
  • However, let me throw up another stat for you, the only stat that really matters:
  • Tom Brady is the quarterback of the New England Patriots.
  • I want to scold myself for losing faith in Tommy B and the Pats; I really do. I want to remind myself that you should never count this team out, no matter what, and that as long as there is still time on the clock, the Patriots have a chance. But to be honest, the way the Falcons were playing, and given what the score was...I more or less started making peace with the loss in the third quarter, and if you say you weren't doing the same, you're a liar.
  • The whole game is still kind of a blur to me, to be honest, so these Fan Notes won't have as many play breakdowns as they usually do - maybe I'll find the time a little later on in the offseason to rewatch the game and put something else up - but there are three plays that turned the tide of this game, in my opinion, and they are:
  • Dont'a Hightower masking tight end coverage only to come in on a blitz off the edge, bowl over Devonta Freeman, and strip sack Matt Ryan for an Alan Branch recover. The Patriots were able to get into the end zone a few plays later to bring the game to within a score.
  • A Tre Flowers sack to knock the Falcons out of FG range when all they needed was three points to put the game away.
  • That Julian Edelman catch.
  • I'm going to write it again: that Julian Edelman catch.
  • The Patriots two Super Bowl losses have come on the heels of some absolutely absurd plays that I won't bother recounting here. And there was almost a third, courtesy of Julio Jones making one of the sweetest grabs you will ever see in your lifetime. But as far as I'm concerned, the scales are now level. Malcolm Butler made up for one, and Edelman made up for the other. If that doesn't win play of the year, I don't know what will.
  • I don't think I've enjoyed a Super Bowl Halftime Show since I was about 8 years old and you had to go out and buy...Doritos, I think...in order to get a pair of super cheap 3-D glasses for what was supposed to be a totally interactive viewing experience. It was horrible, of course, but I didn't care. It has been all downhill from here. I know that, for the non-football loving world, halftime and commercials are more or less the reason you watch - but if they would just get rid of the halftime show altogether, I'd be a happy man.'
  • Speaking of commercials...is it too much to ask to just give us dancing chimps, horses and dogs that become best friends, and morons going to elaborate lengths to eat chips? I was depressed enough during most of that Super Bowl without having to be constantly reminded of what's going on in our country right now. I'm not trying to get political in any way here, and I understand that people are scared or nervous or angry or happy or whatever you're feeling at the moment, and those feelings are important. It's just that I, like a lot of other people, see professional sports as an escape from all the crap that's going on in the world, maybe have a few hours once in a while to just enjoy a game and worry about everything else after the final whistle blows. I don't think that's a bad way to go about it, and I know I'd be grateful to not get bludgeoned with messages every four minutes. End rant.
  • After I had talked myself back from accepting that the Patriots were going to get blown out, I then had to try and talk myself out of knowing - not thinking, knowing - that another Stephen Gostkowski shanked extra point was going to cost the Patriots the game.
  • However, courtesy of probably my favorite playcall of all time - the ol' Kevin Faulk direct snap - and a ballsy, ballsy Danny Amendola screen that was thrown so hard that Amendola is probably eating his morning oatmeal out of the depression in his chest at this very moment, the Patriots didn't need Ghost at all.
  • Let's talk about Amendola for a second. It's games like this one that remind us all that the Patriots have to find a way to keep him on the roster. His overall season-long performance doesn't really justify his contract, but when you look back at all the clutch catches and games that have played out over the past few years, he's always the one having and making them.
  • And how about Malcolm Mitchell? When was the last time Tommy B went to a rookie when the game was on the line?
  • And then there's James White. 10 catches, 114 yards, 3 TDs, including the game winner. Nobody - and I mean NOBODY - was talking about that guy before this game, and yours truly wrote him off several seasons ago.
  • How great were those last three notes? Danny Amendola, Malcolm Mitchell, and James White. This is why Tom Brady is the greatest to ever put on a helmet.
  • I knew the Patriots were going to win the game when they won the OT coin toss. I just knew it. I didn't know it when Brady threw it at 1st and Goal from the 2 and it was almost tipped and picked, but that didn't last too long.
  • I still can't really grasp that White TD to win it. I feel like I should be writing something poignant and epic right here to cap it off, but I can't. It was a simple toss play to an RB who had the game of his life and wasn't going to be denied the end zone on the world's greatest stage. And in a way, that's the perfect way to end a Patriots season.
  • As an aside, congrats to the new Hall of Fame Class. Not sure exactly when "works for the NFL Network" become one of the prerequisites for Hall of Fame inductions, but I'm not on the committee.
  • I think I'll have to update my Patriots Super Bowl Power Rankings a little later on this week, but in terms of postgame celebration, this was number one and it isn't even close. Between Tom Brady kneeling in tears in the middle of the field, the hug he shared with Belichick, him straight up sobbing as he hugged Bob Kraft, seeing his equally emotional parents, including his headscarf-clad mother, attending her first game of the season because of her illness, the game Brady dedicated to her...it just won't get any better than that.
  • Oh wait! Yes it will! In the midst of all the happy tears and revelry, the Patriots faithful found the strength to all but completely drown out Roger Goodell with boos as he stood there, awkward and uncomfortable, forced to present the Lombardi Trophy to Robert Kraft before scurrying off the stage with a speed that would make the combine scouts turn their heads in a few weeks.And as the boos immediately turned to cheers when the trophy changed hands...you just can't write that kind of ending. Well done, Pats fans.
  • Live look at Roger Goodell as James White punched it in.
  • I'm not really one to take joy in the misery of fans of the losing team; as Pats fans, we know all too well what Falcons fans are feeling this morning, and I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy. But what I have absolutely no problem taking joy in this morning, however, is the Olympic-caliber mental gymnastics that a lot of people are performing right now in an attempt to discredit the Patriots, say they didn't deserve this victory, and assure anyone who will listen that Tom Brady isn't the greatest quarterback to ever play the game. Some of my early frontrunners for Hater Comment of the Year:
  • "The Patriots didn't win this game, the Falcons lost it. What an epic choke job. Patriots gifted yet another Lombardi Trophy."
  • "If Atlanta had just kneeled three times and then kicked a field goal, they would have won. What horrible playcalling. Fire the coaches!"
  • "This is New England's only legitimate Super Bowl. The rest are so tainted that they shouldn't even count."
  • "Did you guys see how Matt Ryan's helmet radio went out at one point? The Patriots do it again!"
  • "This is the second SB the Pats have won courtesy of some garbage decision to throw it."
  • "White's knee was 100% down before the ball crossed the goal line. Another tainted trophy."
  • "Wow, what a shocker! The refs didn't call all that holding on the Patriots and gifted them a DPI in the end zone! Golden Boy Tommy gets special treatment again. The NFL is a joke."
  • "The Patriots are so classless. I'll never have any respect for them."
  • Anything I missed? If there is, please let me know.
  • When the Patriots won their fourth Super Bowl all the way back in 2014, I wrote the following in my Fan Notes:
  • When a man wears a pinkie ring, I immediately and correctly label him a complete douchebag. But in Tom Brady's case, I'm very, very happy to make an exception.
  • And for the record, I feel the exact same way about thumb rings, just in case.
  • I now have to figure out where Tommy B should start on his other hand if he gets any more. The easy answer is just throw away the wedding ring and start on the ring finger...but did you see Giselle last night? No way you let that woman go.
  • But for the record...if Brady and Giselle ever do decide to call it quits, I'm certainly there for you if you ever need a rebound guy.
  • I'll leave exactly who the "you" is in the above note open to interpretation.
  • Five Rings.
  • FIVE GODDAM RINGS.
  • The Five Time World Champion New England Patriots will soon be going to President Donald Trump's White House for the championship ceremony. That I just wrote that sentence absolutely blows my mind for more reasons that I'll ever be able to rationally comprehend.
  • I'll be at the parade tomorrow - a full calendar year has passed since Boston last won a championship, which is borderline unforgivable - and will most likely be hanging out in the Fenway Park area. So if you see me, feel free to stop by and say hi.
  • As I close out another season of Fan Notes from the Game on the absolute highest of notes, I'd like to once again extend my eternal gratitude to everyone who has read my stuff over the years. Another thank you to those of you who have emailed me privately to tell me how much they enjoyed these articles every week, and an extra special thanks to the rest of the staff here at Pats Pulpit. You folks are the absolute best, it's a privilege to work with each of you, and I'm forever blessed to have found this great community of fans amid an ocean of those who want nothing more than to bathe in New England tears. As far as I'm concerned, it will never get any better than this, right here, right now. But I'm rarely right about anything, so I'd absolutely love to be proven wrong here.
  • We're on to the offseason - the championship offseason.

We are all Patriots.