You can't really overdo the superlatives relative to Superbowl 51. The greatest comeback in Superbowl history. The only title game ever to be decided in overtime. The most phenomenal catch ever made in a championship game, and maybe in any game ever, all engineered by the best quarterback ever to play professional football.
On the off chance you haven't heard by now, the New England Patriots trailed the Atlanta Falcons 28-3 late in the third quarter before rattling off 31 unanswered points to win 34-28 in Houston last night, delivering the Patriots their fifth championship in franchise history, and making Tom Brady the only quarterback to ever win five championship rings. Bill Belichick becomes the only head coach to win five rings, and all of that would be remarkable enough without the realization that this game was all but over, a one-sided affair for nearly three quarters of play that had the Patriots looking like a team outmatched on both sides of the ball, unable to prevent the Falcons from scoring, and flailing helplessly at their own attempts at generating offense.
Lagarette Blount had fumbled, the ball ripped from his hands by Atlanta's Dion Jones. That led to an Atlanta touchdown. Then it became 14-0, and no team had ever come back from even that deficit to win a Superbowl, when Tom Brad threw a pick six interception into the arms of Robert Alford, who took the ball back 82 yards untouched, so make it 21-0, and it would get even worse when the Falcons made it 28-3 late in the 3rd.
All it meant was that Tom Brady had the Falcons just where he wanted them. The comeback wasn't all Brady, of course. Danny Amendola became the go-to receiver, catching a six-yard TD pass to start the comeback. James White, who could have been named runner-up MVP to Brady in this one, was invaluable. He set Super Bowl records for most catches by a running back with 14, and receiving yards, 110, and that was important because Blount and Dion Lewis were non-factors in the ground game. Brady himself was the runaway MVP. His 466 total passing yards to go with two touchdowns is the most in Superbowl history. Another huge play was a sack and fumble forced by D'onta Hightower that gave the Pats the ball at the Atlanta 20 when it was 28-12, leading to another Patriots score.
And then there's the catch by Julian Edelman. THE catch. All due respect to David Tyree and NY Giants fans everywhere, and I'm sure I'll have many challenging me on this, that incredible catch Tyree made in the Superbowl in 2008 that keyed the Giants win over the Patriots, the catch he made by securing the ball against his helmet while he was taken to the ground, was surpassed by the catch Edelman made with a little over 2 minutes left and the Pats still trailing by 8.
The ball was knocked into the air by an Atlanta defender, and as it floated toward the turf he and Edelman both grapple to catch it before it hits, both men on the ground reaching amid a a tangle of arms for the ball as it hits the forearm of the Atlanta defender, pops ever so slightly back into the air and then, inches before it touches the field, Edelman somehow maintains his concentration and coordination in order to clasp the ball tightly in between his hands,bringing the ball back into his body for a catch that looks impossible even when you see it in slow motion.
Try to believe your eyes. Here it is:
It was reviewed, it was confirmed, and it kept the drive alive, ending with a James white one yard touchdown run. The two point conversion was good, the game was tied, and then it was a matter of winning the coin toss to get the ball first in overtime. The Pats did, and Brady drove the team downfield to complete the greatest comeback in Superbowl history, and one of the most sensational in any sports contest, with a two-yard James White touchdown run.
Ridiculous. Insane. Amazing. Incredible. You really can't overdo the superlatives for Superbowl 51.
There were other games yesterday. In the NBA the Boston Celtics said an emotional farewell to one of their most beloved players as Paul Pierce visited with the L.A. Clippers and was given a standing ovation, hitting his final shot, a trademark three-pointer in the waning moments. Not enough for a win, as the Celtics prevailed 107-102 behind 28 points from Isaiah Thomas.
In the NHL Leon Draisaitl got a shootout goal in overtime, the only one of the game in the Edmonton Oiler's 1-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens, and at Madison Square Garden, Chris Kreider and Jesper Fast scored three minutes apart in the third period to help the NY Rangers beat the Calgary Flames 4-3.