By Anthony Carbonaro
Super Bowl Ll was the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history. The New England Patriots overcame a 25 point, third-quarter deficit to defeat the young and inexperienced Atlanta Falcons, 34-28.
Fans are calling it a major choke on the Falcons part but there are many people who argue it was the coaching of Bill Belichick along with Tom Brady’s lead that caused the impressive comeback.
Brady entered the game with four rings and the most game-winning drives in the playoffs in the Super Bowl era. Joe Montana and Tom Brady are the most consistently talked about as the Greatest of All Time to play the quarterback position.
The Patriots’ reputation stems from their ability to not turn the ball over. The Super Bowl began in the opposite fashion. LeGarrette Blount had the most rushing touchdowns in the NFL with 18 and only had two lost fumbles when coming into the biggest game of the season.
The Patriots drove the length of the field and ended up in Falcon territory at their 30 yard line. It looked as though Brady & co. would be the first to put points on the board. The wind was taken out of New England’s sails with a Blount fumble on the next first down. The fumble set up a Devonta Freeman touchdown to give the Falcons a 7-0 lead.
Beginning the second quarter with a 14-0 deficit, the Pats drove the length of the field. On 3rd and 6 with 2:36 left in the half and Brady knocking on the red zone door, Robert Alford jumped Amendola’s slant route and took it to the house. That was the first pick-six ever thrown by Tom Brady in the Super Bowl.
The Patriots did not play up to their standards. Rare moments from Brady and Blount dug a deep hole that filled the audience with doubt. It was hard to imagine even a team with their reputation could come back from this.
Going into halftime, down 21-3, the Patriots had to make the adjustments to put themselves back in the football game. With a few minutes left in the third quarter, Belichick’s halftime adjustments began to show their brilliance.
Eight minutes remaining in the game, the Falcons led 28-12 when the Patriots defense took over. On 3rd and 1, in their own territory, Ryan was stripped by Dont’a Hightower. Devonta Freeman missed his assignment which cost the Falcons the ball and a possible first down.
The play resulted in a New England touchdown followed by a successful 2-point conversion, making it a one possession game. The Patriots needed one more defensive stand to give Brady a final shot.
After what should have been an unbelievable, game-clinching catch from Julio Jones, the Falcons were in prime position to capture their first Lombardi Trophy.
NFL fans expected the Falcons to run the ball in attempt to run down the clock, or kick a field goal at minimum, making it a two-score game. Atlanta unfathomably dropped back to pass on 2nd and 3rd downs.
Ryan was sacked for a loss of 11 yards on second down and a holding penalty was committed on third down to lose another ten. This blunder in play calling took the Falcons out of field goal range, forcing them to punt.
Tom Brady engineered a 91 yard touchdown drive, bringing the Patriots within a two-point conversion to tie the game. Amendola caught a pass and barely broke the plane to knot the score at 28, sending the Super Bowl into overtime for the first time in history. The Patriots won the OT coin toss and elected to receive.
Brady led his team on a 75 yard touchdown drive to capture his fifth Super Bowl ring.
New England’s experience, Bill Belichick’s defensive adjustments and Brady being Brady are the reasons the Patriots were able to complete the best comeback in Super Bowl history.