Patriots win Super Bowl LI 34-28

For the fifth time since 2002, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots hoist the Lombardi Trophy over their heads for all of New England to relish.

Pretty cliché, am I right?  Love him or hate him, Tom Brady just solidified himself as the greatest football player of all time.  Exactly what happened this past Sunday for such a tragic event to occur?

As crazy as it sounds, the Patriots have been held scoreless the first quarter in all seven of their Super Bowl appearances.  This gave Atlanta two first quarter possessions to put points on the board and they failed.  It only took the Falcons the second play in the second quarter for the momentum to pick up.  Falcons rookie linebacker Deion Jones forced a LeGarrette Blount fumble on the designed draw play.  Five plays and 67 yards later, the Falcons struck first on a 5 yard Devonte Freeman touchdown.  

The Patriots failed to answer and went three and out the next drive.  Atlanta capitalized on their momentum by going 61 yards through the air, where Matt Ryan found rookie tight end Austin Hooper for a 19-yard touchdown.

The Patriots finally saw things going their way.  On three third downs in a row, the Falcons committed defensive holding penalties that prolonged the Patriots drive.  Giving the Patriots extra downs will usually end up costing you, but a rare Tom Brady pick six intended for Danny Amendola saw the Falcons up 21-0 with two minutes into the half.  The Pats settled for a field goal at the end of the half and viewers quickly changed the channel before Lady Gaga had the chance to fall from the sky.

However, I knew this game was far from over.  Growing up in Massachusetts and loathing the Patriots, I have seen this before.  Twice my beloved Baltimore Ravens blew two separate 14 points in the 2014 AFC divisional round.  Poor Falcons fans, little did they know what was about to come.  One cannot count out Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, especially in the Super Bowl.

Atlanta picked up right where they left off and on their second possession. Tevin Coleman, the second of the double headed dragon that is the Falcons running attack waltzed in for a touchdown on a 6 yard check down pass from Matt Ryan.  Finally, we saw the Tom Brady we know and “love.”  Brady managed 64 passing yards and ended with a 5-yard passing touchdown to James White.  However, Stephen Gostkowski struck the right upright on the point after attempt, pretty much summing up the Patriots day in one play.  Bill Belichick, being down 28-9 called for a surprise onside that ended up being recovered by Atlanta and gave the Falcons possession on the New England 41-yard line.  It was at this moment, New England had a 0.3 percent chance of winning the Super Bowl, and it would only increase from there.

On the first play after recovering the onside kick, Matt Ryan hit Austin Hooper for a 9-yard gain, ball on the 32-yard line.  If the Falcons elected to kick a field goal on 2 and 1, Matt Bryant could have hit the 49-yard attempt and the Falcons would have virtually won the Super Bowl.  After that nine-yard completion on first down, the Falcons were sacked and penalized twice, just enough yards to force them to punt.

The Patriots managed to score three points on their first possession of the fourth, but Donta Hightower managed a strip sack on Matt Ryan deep on the Falcons own territory.  This would set up a Brady to Amendola touchdown and a successful two-point conversion from James White.

Up eight with 4:47 left in the fourth, Matt Ryan connected with Julio Jones for a spectacular 27-yard toe drag catch.  Atlanta had the ball first and ten on the New England twenty-two-yard line.  You must run the ball here.  Simple as that.  

However, Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan called for three pass plays that ended with an incompletion, an offensive holding call, and a sack which forced the Falcons to punt.  A series of plays very similar to the ones called after the onside recovery.  Twice, Shanahan had the chance to run the ball on the Patriots side of the field and did not, a decision I am sure will haunt him for his career.

Once again, Brady would march down the field with ease and score on the depleted defense of the Falcons, and once again they would convert the two-point conversion to send the game into overtime.

 The Patriots received the ball first and managed to get the ball to the Falcons two-yard line.  As Vic Beasley and the rest of the Falcons defense were gasping for air, James White crossed the goal line on a two-yard touchdown, securing the Patriots fifth Super Bowl victory in 15 years.