Super Bowl takeaways


Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

By Daniel Weber

Since the first Super Bowl in 1967, the game has grown into one of the most important events in America. It’s a time when America sits down, flips on the television and watches the spectacle whether it’s for the game, the commercials or just to know what everyone will be referencing until the new season begins.

This year’s Super Bowl featured an especially intriguing matchup between the number one scoring offense, the Atlanta Falcons, and the number one scoring defense, the New England Patriots. What ensued was a thrilling 34–28 Patriots victory in the first Super Bowl to go to overtime. Here are my four takeaways from Super Bowl LI:


1. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are the greatest quarterback and coach of all time


Some have considered Tom Brady and Bill Belichick to be the best quarterback-coach combination of all time, but their record-smashing comeback bid in football’s most important game against one of the best teams finally settles this enduring argument and silences the critics. The pair’s track record over the previous 16 years is unparalleled, but this Super Bowl victory epitomizes what makes the two of them the greatest at their respective positions.

Trailing by three scores at the half, Belichick and his coaching staff made multiple adjustments and the team almost immediately started to look much better. The defense started to hold the Falcons in check, allowing Brady the chance to work his magic. He responded in a big way, calmly leading the team to three straight touchdowns with two clutch two-point conversions that tied the game. When the Patriots received the ball to begin the overtime period, Brady started where he left off, manufacturing a flawless game-winning drive like fans have seen so many times before.

No other quarterback or coach could have pulled off this unprecedented feat so, love them or hate them, Tom Terrific and Darth Hoodie have proven themselves to be the greatest player and coach tandem to ever grace a football field.


2. This was a super bowl unlike any other


What happened in Super Bowl LI shouldn’t have happened. It couldn’t have happened. But it definitely did happen.

The previous record for largest comeback in a Super Bowl game was 10 points, and the Patriots’ efforts in this game shattered that mark. With the Falcons up by 25 points in the early third quarter the game looked all but over. The Patriots looked demoralized and helpless. Statisticians said that the Falcons had a 99.9 percent chance to pull out the victory.

And then everything changed.

The Patriots completed their first successful drive of the day, ending with a much needed touchdown. On multiple occasions, the Falcons found themselves on the Patriots side of the field, but poor play calling and a rejuvenated defense prevented them from delivering the dagger.

This, coupled with Tom Brady’s flawless fourth quarter heroics, brought the Patriots back into the game and forced the first overtime in Super Bowl history.

3. The NFL wasn’t ready for a Super Bowl overtime game


A game of this magnitude should not have been decided in the way it was. At the end of four quarters, both teams had given their all and were tied 28–28. Therefore, each team should have an equal chance to take home the Lombardi Trophy, right? Wrong. The NFL used the same rules of overtime as the regular season, which gives the team that wins a coin toss a massive advantage. The rules state that if the first team’s overtime drive stalls or ends in a field goal, the other team will have a chance to answer back. However, if one team scores a touchdown, the game ends.

This is exactly what happened, as the Patriots won the coin toss, elected to receive and proceeded to drive down the field for the touchdown which ended the game. Sure, the Patriots had the momentum and probably would’ve won the game anyway, but the Falcons were never given a chance to showcase their league-leading offense and keep their championship hopes alive. One can’t help but wonder what would’ve happened had the coin fallen the other way.

4. Coaching is more important than you think


Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is the best coach in the NFL and Falcons head coach Dan Quinn looks to be on his way to the upper echelon, but much of the talk from the week before the Super Bowl was about former Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. Portrayed as a rising star in the league, media chatter was high in anticipation of his playcalling in the championship. The Falcons offense dominated the first half of the game, but became stagnant when it mattered most, largely due to Shanahan.

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and the offense kept their foot on the pedal to start the second half and were quickly rewarded with a fourth successful touchdown drive. Now that they had a comfortable lead, conventional wisdom says the Falcons should’ve tried to run out the clock and give the Patriots as little time as possible to mount a comeback. However, the Falcons offense stayed with the passing game, losing them an almost certain three points and gifting the Patriots the time they needed to score three touchdowns and send the game to overtime.

The Patriots played a fourth quarter for the ages, but had the Falcons ran the ball instead of passed it, they would’ve emerged victorious.