Super Bowl LI: One for the Ages
February 7, 2017
Super Bowl LI turned out to be nothing shy of extraordinary. The New England Patriots’ clash with the Atlanta Falcons is one that will undoubtedly go down in the history books.
Heading into the game, expectations for an entertaining championship game were high. A great deal of hype for Super Bowl LI centered around New England quarterback Tom Brady who, at age 39, sought his fifth championship entering Sunday’s contest. A win for Brady would surpass the NFL-record four championships won by any one quarterback. The clear favorite for this year’s big game was New England. Among ESPN.com’s expert picks, nine out of ten predicted the Patriots to win. Las Vegas oddsmakers also favored the team to win by three points.
As for Robinson students, according to a Twitter poll, 53% predicted the Falcons to prevail, compared to 47% who thought the Patriots were going to win. These predictions differed from experts and, ultimately, the game result itself. The results for which team Robinson students wanted to win, however, were far more lopsided, with 69% picking the Falcons, compared to just 31% choosing the Patriots.
The Falcons jumped out to a seemingly insurmountable lead during the first half of Super Bowl LI. After a scoreless first quarter, the Falcons rallied for three touchdowns in the second quarter, allowing a mere field goal for the Patriots. The touchdowns came off of a short Devonta Freeman rush, a 19-yard connection between Falcons quarterback—and regular-season NFL MVP—Matt Ryan and tight end Austin Hooper, and, in perhaps the most momentous event of the half, an 82-yard interception return for a touchdown by Falcons cornerback Robert Alford. The score was 21-3 at halftime.
In the third, a Falcons touchdown brought the team to a 25-point lead before the Patriots responded later in the quarter with a touchdown of their own (despite a missed extra point). The Patriots would attempt the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history in the fourth quarter. Astonishing everyone, New England was able to pull off the impossible, scoring a field goal, two touchdowns (the latter of which was aided by an improbable circus catch by wide receiver Julian Edelman), and converting two two-point conversions, bringing the score to an even 28-28.
And, after winning the coin toss that marked the beginning of the Super Bowl’s first-ever overtime, the Patriots were poised to cap off their miraculous comeback with yet another Super Bowl win under Brady and head coach Bill Belichick. The team did just that, storming down the field in a 75-yard drive capped off by running back James White’s two-yard touchdown run.
In the end, Tom Brady tallied 466 passing yards (a Super Bowl record), along with two touchdowns and the lone interception in the second quarter. Brady won Super Bowl MVP, his fourth such award across his five Super Bowl wins. His Falcons counterpart, Matt Ryan, passed for 284 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Needless to say, Super Bowl LI is one that nobody will soon forget.