By Christopher Cohen, Sports Editor & Justin McKinney, Staff Writer
Following a rolling series of record showing performances, Tom Brady led the comeback of a lifetime to claim his fifth title in Super Bowl LI.
Despite trailing the Atlanta Falcons 21-3 going into the locker room at halftime, and ultimately 28-3 following a quick Falcons drive beginning the second half, New England managed to score 25 unanswered points to tie the Super Bowl with less than a minute remaining in regulation.
How New England returned from the depths of the Marianna Trench and bring the Atlanta Falcons into an overtime defeat for the ages to observe in awe.
Without a single point scored by either team in the first quarter of play, New England and Atlanta appeared to be playing on complimentary terms despite the significant differences in league experience and postseason performances.
Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have together appeared in more Super Bowl’s than the entire Atlanta Falcons organization establishment in 1965.
As Brady and Belichick went on to win their fifth Super Bowl in seven total appearances, they did so in record setting fashion as they successfully came back from the largest deficit in Super Bowl history.
Not only did New England complete the improbable comeback; Tom Brady did so while throwing for a Super Bowl game record of 466 total passing yards.
New England running back James White was Brady’s number one target during the game of the season.
White set a Super Bowl record as he recorded fourteen catches to go with his 110 receiving yards and a touchdown. White also rushed for twenty-nine yards on six attempts throughout the game.
Fortunately for New England, two of White’s six attempts ended in the end zone, including the game winning score in overtime that sealed the Patriots 34-28 victory.
Words are incapable of properly describing Julian Edelman’s catch provided the era of consistent video and televised capturing of each and every event no matter the significance.
In the moment it appeared Brady was about to throw his second interception of the night, Edelman dove for the Patriots championship chance as he secured the ball just inches above the turf.
Danny Amendola recorded the other Brady passing touchdown in the fourth quarter to crucially add to the 19 points required to tie the game, considering Gostkowski’s botched field goal in the third quarter following White’s reception touchdown.
The Patriots fourth round selection out of Georgia provided critical conversions in the closing half of the Super Bowl. Malcom Mitchell caught six passes for seventy yards in the biggest game of the young receiver’s career.
On the defensive side of the ball, New England turned the tide around in the second half as Dont’a Hightower sacked Matt Ryan and forced a fumble into a falling Alan Branch’s grasp.
The fumble set up the drive for New England to begin burying the deficit set before them by the Atlanta Falcons.
Trey Flowers matched Hightower’s sack with two and a half of his own takedowns on Matt Ryan, who managed to complete 17/23 pass attempts for 284 yards and two touchdowns.
Despite the near flawless execution by the reigning league MVP, Ryan and the Falcons offense were simply not on the field long enough to halt Brady’s unprecedented comeback. Atlanta’s offense controlled the ball for twenty-three and a half minutes of play, while Brady was able to work with the ball for forty minutes and thirty-one seconds.
Regardless, the best teams and best players were provided for the best game of the season.Brady and Belichick claimed their place as positioned kings, now with five rings. They are the first and only pairing in NFL history to achieve the remarkable accomplishment.
Although Brady has completed his seventeenth season with New England, Patriots nation will look forward to watching number twelve return to summer training sessions.
After a well-deserved off season, Patriots players and fans can rejoice in full of relaxation, refreshments, and really wondering how Edelman caught that ball.
New England’s Off-Season Rundown
A lot of people have been freaking out about the Patriots off-season, especially in regards to free agency. To those people I say look at our list of free-agents and if you cannot figure who needs to get paid and who doesn’t you probably don’t watch football.
Not to mention I would say that all of our free agents could potentially be signed for very low money.
In my opinion your four biggest free agents going into the offseason are offensive linemen Sebastian Vollmer, cornerbacks Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan, and linebacker Dont’a Hightower.
As far as Vollmer goes it is a very simple formula, he’s 32 years old and has had a few injury problems, he certainly deserves a reasonable contract.
However, the Patriots will not have to worry about teams throwing obnoxious money at him and causing them to have hike up their offer to him. I say give him the league average for offensive linemen for two years.
By the time he’s 34 he’ll probably have played his last productive season as an offensive linemen and would probably have to settle for a small amount above veterans minimum if he wants to stay in New England.
Now onto the cornerbacks, it is very easy and it’s very simple. Pay them both, give them big and long contracts, they both have a solid five more years of all-pro football in them.
Butler and Ryan where a fantastic tandem all season and in my opinion the only player they had significant trouble with was Julio Jones, who happens to be the best wide out in the league.
They were also being thrown at by Matt Ryan, who happens to be the NFL MVP. These guys are pivotal in keeping the Patriots defense intact and keep this team on a winning track.
Dont’a Hightower will be one of the more interesting contracts this offseason, I realize he is one of the most talented players in the NFL, but he won’t get a huge contract. Hightower is a Patriots staple at this point, in my eyes a second coming of Ted Bruschi, he does not want to leave. He also cannot expect a huge contract because he’s injury prone, he’s a fantastic player but he has trouble staying healthy.
It’s also no secret that staying healthy does not get any easier with age. I say give him six million a year for four years. After four years he won’t be stable enough health-wise to warrant that type of money.
Back-up quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has also had a ton of buzz surrounding him as he found success in the two games he started this season as he threw for four TDs and over 400 yards.
While the Pats could get a ton for him in the open market as trade bait, however I don’t like the move. I say keep him, he’s only 25 and if Brady retires in three years he’ll only be 28, which means we can get another eight to ten seasons out him. Unless there is a younger better QB in the draft, which I don’t see, I think keeping Jimmy G is the best move for the Patriots.
If nothing else this will be a very interesting offseason for the Patriots and I cannot wait to see how Bob Kraft and Bill Belichick wheel and deal to their next Super Bowl championship.