If you watched this game, you experienced the full range of emotions. From disappointment to despair to pleading to confidence to euphoria, we all experienced it. The game itself removed any doubt who the greatest coach and QB was as Tom Brady and Bill Belichick won their 5th Super Bowl ring in the most amazing fashion. The Patriots erased a 25-point deficit in 18 minutes and finished the game with 31 unanswered points. The largest overcome deficit in a Super Bowl was 10 points, when Tom Brady did the trick two seasons ago.
Falcons run out of gas: Give the Falcons credit, they were ready for this game. Their pass rush was relentless, with DT Grady Jarrett tying a Super Bowl record with 3 sacks, and kept Brady off-kilter for 3 quarters. The Falcons corners did a great job of smothering the Patriots receivers as well. Their offense was very good despite only running 46 plays, as they were able to do what they wanted. Any other team in the NFL, the Falcons not only win but they win in a blowout. They did everything right to try to beat the Patriots, but the Patriots were able to edge them out at the end. The key was the Patriots ran 93 plays and tired out the Falcons defense through the 4th quarter.
Young stars emerge: James White, Trey Flowers, and Malcolm Mitchell all gave big contributions towards the victory. White, who put up an MVP level performance with 139 yards from scrimmage and 3 TDs, carried the offense for most of the game. White scored 20 points (3 TD, 1 2-pt conversion), a Super Bowl record. Trey Flowers was able to put the heat on Matt Ryan, picking up 2.5 sacks and 2 more hits. Flowers’ first sack ended the Falcons 2nd drive and the second sack knocked the Falcons out of field goal range in an 8-point game. Malcolm Mitchell burned his hometown team in the 4th quarter with 6 catches for 70 yards. The Patriots have struggled to develop young WRs, but Mitchell is the real deal. Coming off a strong finish to the season and a solid Super Bowl performance, Mitchell should really take off in his 2nd year in the system.
Dont’a Hightower starts comeback bid: In a situation where the Patriots defense needed a turnover, the Patriots sent their All Pro linebacker on a blitz. Devonta Freeman did not attempt to block Hightower, who capitalized with a strip sack that was recovered by Alan Branch. It was turnover that helped the Falcons build a 28-3 lead, it was a turnover that was the Falcons undoing and the Patriots savior. The Patriots offense responded with a touchdown to pull the game within 8 points. The defense would have to endure another Falcons drive, as they were able to get into FG range. Thanks to the heroics of Trey Flowers and Chris Long, the Patriots were able to push the Falcons out of field goal range, setting up Tom Brady’s greatest comeback bid.
Tom Brady plays greatest 4th quarter ever: If there is one QB you can never count out in a big game, it’s Tom Brady. Brady went 21 for 26 for 246 yards and 1 TD from the 4th quarter to the end of the game. Brady was 5 for 5 for 50 yards on the winning drive, his only mistake being a bad throw to Martellus Bennett for what should have been a game-winning pass. The play did net the Patriots a pass interference that put the ball on the two and set up James White for the game-winner on a play identical to what the Falcons love to run. That strong output resulted in 25 points for the Patriots. When the Patriots won the toss to start overtime, I was 100% confident the Patriots would put the game away there with all the momentum behind them. Brady would wind up as the Super Bowl MVP, his 4th.
We’re On To The Parade: This was by far my favorite Patriots team and it’s been a blast to cover this team on the Pulpit. This Super Bowl is also by far my favorite of the bunch and we have a decent amount of choices to pick from. The 2016 Patriots overcame a lot of adversity, starting with Tom Brady’s suspension, losing Rob Gronkowski late in the season, and making the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history. I still can’t comprehend how the game unfolded and perhaps I never truly will. The Super Bowl parade will be on Tuesday at 11am EST, hopefully we’ll have a livestream of the parade on here. If not, you shouldn’t look too hard to find one. The quest for Lombardi number 6 starts on Wednesday.