By Traci McCartney @traciamc
It’s been a week. I’ve had some time to let it truly sink in. I think it’s finally dawned on me that my team, the New England Patriots, led by the greatest NFL quarterback ever, did something that had never been done.
They came back from a 25 point deficit to tie a game where everyone had counted them out. They did something else that has never been done – brought a Super Bowl game into overtime. And then they did the impossible…they won. Tom Brady wanted to win this game, the only game his mother had been able to get to after 18 months of fighting cancer, for his mom. This was for Galynn Brady.
The thing is…they never gave up, and that is the true measure of the heart of a team. When they were down 21-3 at halftime, Julian Edelman was telling everyone on the sidelines, “It’s gonna be one hell of a story (when we come back and win).”
They all knew it could happen. They all knew they could MAKE it happen. They never panicked, they played their game, one play at a time. And even when James White crossed the goal line to score the touchdown that would win the game in overtime, Tom Brady, always keeping his head as the leader of the team, tried to get people to calm down and be ready, just in case review showed that he hadn’t gotten in. But then it was mayhem, as the confetti fell from the ceiling and players ran around in elation and disbelief.
Let me start off by saying, I was sick. It was a coughing, stuffed up head, hopped up on cold medicine kind of sick. So at halftime, after three touchdowns, one of which was a LeGarrett Blount fumble, and another – an almost unheard of Brady pick six, the Atlanta Falcons were up 21-3. It didn’t look good, and I was fighting to stay alert.
When Atlanta scored another touchdown with 8 and a half minutes to go in the 3rd quarter, that put them up 28-3…virtually insurmountable. And when – Patriots finally DID score a touchdown at the end of the 3rd quarter, Stephen Gostkowski’s extra point kick hit the right upright and bounced out – it was no good. That made the score 28-9.
The Patriots were able to put 3 more up on the scoreboard to make it 28-12, but that still meant they had to score 2 touchdowns AND two 2-pt conversions, and the chances of that were slim, but that never rattled the Tom Brady led Patriots. And it was on Atlanta’s next possession that we all felt the tide turn.
Matt Ryan had just completed a pair of completions to Tevin Coleman, and on 3rd and 1, went back to pass and was sacked by Dont’a Hightower. The ball came out – recovered by Alan Branch. The Patriots had the ball in Atlanta territory. Tom Brady was sacked on 1st and 10, but 4 plays later, Brady connected with Danny Amendola for a touchdown followed by a direct snap to James White for the good 2 point conversion attempt.
With the score now 28-20, it was possible for the Patriots to tie the game up with another touchdown, and 2 point conversion. Time for the defense to prove it’s worth.
The Falcons moved the ball quickly and efficiently down the field. A short pass to Devonta Freeman netted 39 yards, followed by another 2 yd gain and then an amazing catch by Julio Jones to put the Falcons at the New England 22 yd line. But then Freeman was tacked for a 1 yd loss, and then Ryan dropped back for a pass and was sacked by Trey Flowers for a loss of 12 yds. After an offensive holding penalty, the Falcons were out of field goal range, and when Ryan’s pass to Taylor Gabriel fell incomplete, they were forced to punt the ball back to the Patriots, with 3:30 left to play. The Patriots did not squander the opportunity.
Tom Brady had to start deep in Patriots’ territory. And after 2 incomplete passes, he hit Chris Hogan along the sideline for a 16 yd gain. But it was the tipped pass to Julian Edelman that finally put them on the Falcons’ side of the field. The pass was tipped, and somehow, with incredible concentration, Edelman caught it. The Falcons challenged the ruling of a catch, but the replay clearly showed Edelman getting his hands underneath and gaining control of the ball…the ruling on the field would stand.
A completed pass to Danny Amendola gave way to the James White show. Brady completed 2 passes to White, who then ran it in to the end zone for a touchdown. A complete pass to Amendola in the end zone for the two point conversion attempt tied the game with 57 seconds left in the game. The Patriots had made history and had come back from a 25 point deficit. The Falcons could do nothing with their possession, so the game would make history once again when it became the first Super Bowl to go into overtime.
The NFL’s rules on overtime are clear: score a touchdown on the first possession, and you win the game. If you get only a field goal, the other team will get their possession and a chance to score. So when Matthew Slater called “heads” in the coin flip, and it was heads, there was no question – the Patriots would receive. And Brady and the Patriots did not waste their possession.
They played their game, taking each play one at a time. Brady completed 6 straight passes for 60 yds. A pass interference call against Atlanta on a pass to Martellus Bennett in the end zone put the ball at the 2 yd line. Brady’s next pass to Bennett was tipped and fell incomplete. On 2nd and goal, Brady pitched the ball to James White and with the aid of a block by Marcus Cannon, he tipped his shoulder and pushed his way into the end zone. The comeback was complete – the New England Patriots were Super Bowl LI Champions!
I couldn’t believe my eyes…and then I started crying. I was so happy for the Patriots who had fought through so much to get here, but I felt for Falcons fans. I’ve been there.
I watched the post-game celebration, the craziness on the field, and then I went to bed. When I woke up, I thought it might have been a hallucination, but my husband quickly dispelled that notion. The Patriots had done something never been done before – come back from 25 points down to win in overtime, marking 5 Super Bowls for Brady/Belichick. Amazing! See you next year, NFL! #RogerThat
Featured image courtesy: Chicago Tribune
For the latest Patriots updates, follow: @traciamc