When you choke, you see the Rings
So the Patriots are champions again after a monumental choke for the ages. There is a lot to unpack about what is already an instant classic.
First off, save the Tom Brady goat chat for Thursday, a comic about that (which should please you desperate loonies who somehow need me to agree with your opinion to validate it) will come then, so don’t bring that up till it’s relevant. Keep your comments about the game itself for this one, since there is plenty of material there.
So much stuff to talk about here so I’m gonna run down topics and tackle them 1 by 1.
-Is this the greatest Super Bowl of all time?
I don’t think so. Top 5 probably, but not best ever. It had everything you want in terms of drama and story, and it’s going to be remembered for decades for all sorts of reasons, but from a competitive standpoint I actually thought it kind of sucked. We basically watched 2 Broncos/Seahawks style blowouts in one game. The Falcons dominated the first half and the Patriots sucked. The Patriots dominated the second half and the Falcons sucked. It never felt like an even clash of titans, it felt like one side had everything until a switch flipped and the other side had everything. While everything ended up close, the game felt bizarrely non-competitive on the whole. Real weird. The competitiveness of a game is really important (to me at least) and this one was lacking. Pats/Hawks and Cards/Steelers were better actual competitive games with endings just as exciting. The novelty of the first overtime ever was dampened by the fact that it ended after one easy drive by the Pats.
-Is this the greatest comeback of all time?
I say yes. Bills/Oilers might have involved more points, but this was the Super Bowl. The biggest stage makes this what it is. Also, 19 points in the 4th quarter is a playoff record, I think. Certainly a Super Bowl record.
-Is this the biggest choke of all time?
Also yes, for the same reason. Incredible choke, legendary choke. One of the things you need for a comeback that spectacular is a choke equally as spectacular. Make no mistake, this isn’t just a great Patriots comeback, this was a Falcons collapse. The Patriots had to play basically perfect 4th quarter to win this game, and they did so. But the Falcons also had to choke perfectly, and they did so. If the Falcons are slightly better or the Patriots slightly worse, this game ends with a Falcons win. That’s partly why it’s so remarkable.
-Who deserves most of the credit for the win/loss?
I’m going to go against the general consensus of Brady hero worship and say the Patriots defense won this game. Not Brady. Brady’s horrendous first half was most of the reason they needed a comeback win in the first place. The defense is the unsung hero here. The Falcons mighty vaunted offense scored a whole 21 points. They looked good at times, but failed when it mattered a lot. They seemed to get stopped on every 3rd down they actually experienced. The Patriots seemed to play best on 3rd down and never let the Falcons control the clock. After their final scoring drive, the Falcons special offense had 28 minutes to score a single point to ice this game. They failed each chance they had. Once in spectacular fashion, in a series of events that can mostly be blamed on Kyle Shanahan being a dumb who thought that passing the ball in the world’s most PLAY CONSERVATIVE situation ever was a good idea. The Falcons called 5 running plays after they earned the 28-3 lead. 5 rushing plays. 5. A 25 point lead midway through the 3rd means the opponent isn’t the problem, the clock is. That kind of playcalling is inexcuseable. They snapped the ball with 20 seconds left on the playclock multiple times. Inexcuseable. Kyle Shanahan wanted to leave his mark on this game and he did just that, in the worst way. But the Patriots still had to stop that passing attack, and they did. As far as I’m concerned, the key play of this game was the strip sack of Ryan that gave the Pats a short field to make it a two score game. That’s when the tide truly turned. After the fumble the end result felt inevitable and I had little faith in the Falcons after that, and zero faith after the field goal range fiasco. I never once felt the Patriots would lose after that stupid series.
In a way, this defensive performance reminded me of the Bills/Giants bowl with Belichick’s famous gameplan of “Let them run, stop the pass”. Why do teams never seem to figure out how to do beat this against Bill? Is Bill Belichick the greatest coach of all time because he’s the only coach in the NFL who isn’t massively stubborn? The Falcons were running pretty well on the Pats, and they kept throwing it, and it bit them in the ass.
-Is the Edelman catch the best Super Bowl catch of all time?
Nah. Top 5 but not the best. Kearse’s catch two years ago was more crazy luck, and Tyree’s catch and Santonio’s catches were both more athletically impressive and ultimately slightly more important (one was a desperation late game miracle play after a non sack and the other was a final minute game winner). Edelman got lucky that a tipped pass then ended up landing on the one guy’s arm instead of the ground. I think Julio Jones’ toe tap on the sideline on the failure drive was the best catch of the game and deserves the moniker far more than Edelman’s does.
-Was that the best halftime show ever?
Nah, Prince still owns that crown.
-Who deserves props?
-I do not blame the Falcons defense for this collapse. The Defense came to play and during that first half did what they could. They even got a pick-6 of Mr Special himself. The Defense was clearly gassed by the 4th quarter thanks to the offense’s complete failure to control the clock in any way. Only an elite defense could possibly hope to stay competitive at that point with no offensive help, and the Falcons defense might be okay but they weren’t the 2015 Broncos or 2007 Giants.
-James White was the real MVP
-Pats defense, for reasons mentioned above. Can’t wait to see Matt Patricia get hired away by some crap team and fail in a year or two
-Julio Jones is a god amongst men
-Taylor Gabriel deserves a mention, he had a good game too
-Budweiser, for running a good commercial that stupid morons got offended by
-Belichick is and always will be the coach of the year and the best coach ever. Fuck giving that award to Jason Garrett. Garrett is a mediocre coach who lucked into two studs in the draft and rode them to the playoffs.
-Both Bennetts have rings now, that’s pretty cool.
-Matt Ryan. He still had a great game despite the sacks and late failures. The Falcons offensive failures are not on him.
-Brady, for pulling himself out of whatever funk he spent the first half in to pull off the comeback
-Me, for correctly calling that Goodell was going to be professional and that the whole trophy presentation went off without a hitch
-maybe I’m just a huge nerd but It looked like Lady Gaga’s bakground dancers had glowstick Klingon Bat’leths
-Eli Manning, for still being the only dork to beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl. Every Patriots success grows Eli’s legend
-The officials. This game was basically called perfectly and fairly and makes you wonder why the hell we can’t get reffing this good in any other game.
-Who deserves scorn?
-Kyle Shanahan, for reasons explained above. It’s the kind of game that makes you wonder if his head was all there since he was named the 49ers head coach 24 hours later.
-Whatever weirdo who was wearing Tom Brady’s jersey in the first half
-Stephen Gostkowski, for the most shameful doink in Super Bowl history when his team needed every point they could get
-Joe Buck and Troy Aikman because they sucked
-zombie George Bush for not so much flipping the coin as dropping it
-Mr Clean for being sexy in a commercial, what the hell was that
-Martellus Bennett with a horrible, horrible hold that killed a Pats drive
-The Cowboys and Eagles, just because
-Josh McDaniels for calling a pass from the 1 yard line with game on the line and almost had it picked by Vic Beasley, did he learn nothing from two years ago?
-Roger Goodell, for giving the Patriots the ammo to somehow let an unstoppable juggernaut convince themselves they are still underdogs and setting the stage for this mediocre result for a mediocre season of football. This ending felt kind of inevitable the instant Brady’s suspension was enacted, and even with a classic game, it’s depressing to sit here at the end of a fairly bland season watching something we’ve basically already seen happen 4 times already instead of seeing a long suffering franchise finally feel joy.
I don’t know if I’ve felt worse for a fanbase then I felt for Falcons fans last night. Many teams may be perpetually awful, but what we saw last night was a special, legendary level of gut punch heartbreak. I want to tell Falcons fans that it’ll be okay, the team is still good, but I honestly can’t. The only team that’s reliable anymore is the Pats. Hopefully Kyle Shanahan leaving doesn’t hurt the team too much next year. That game will hurt those fans forever, but it might make an eventual SB win a little sweeter in the end.