On Saturdays I try to take a historical look back at the matchup the Patriots will be facing tomorrow. Obviously there’s one big game on everyone’s mind in Pats-Falcons history, so it’s a good chance to remember how crazy it was to live through that game.
For the Patriots, it was maybe their ultimate moment. An impossible comeback that sealed their greatness for even their most ardent doubters and haters. If you can’t at least look at that game and put aside all the conspiracy theories you’re not truly a football fan.
Usually football games don’t really impact us any more than we let them. It all depends on how invested you allow yourself to be. But for me personally, Super Bowl 51 impacted my life in a very real way that ultimately was in large part responsible for 2017 being a life-changing year for me.
For that, no sporting event will ever compare to Super Bowl 51. I’m still wrapping my head around it even eight months later to be honest.
Let’s start with how we all felt when the score was actually 28-3, when it seemed almost assured that the Pats were about to lose their third Super Bowl in ten years.
More than anything I was just shocked that that Patriots team would come out and play so poorly. As Belichick would later point out, they were having success moving the ball, but the sloppy turnovers just killed them. It was so un-Patriots, and that was what was most shocking. Even when they get dominated the Patriots never really get blown out.
But here we were, in the Super Bowl, watching the Patriots get blown out. It was a foreign experience. So much so that I just said “screw it” and dug into what I hoped would be my Super Bowl victory dessert early. Maybe that made the difference?
Everyone seems to have something that they personally did at 28-3 that turned the tide. Changed jerseys, changed seats, maybe even turned it off, but most of us probably think one silly little thing we changed was what changed the Patriots luck.
Once the comeback started a new dread arose in me. I can handle getting blown out. There’s no “woulda, couldas” like Super Bowls 42 and 46 had. We just got our asses beat and that’s that. No, the last thing I wanted was to come all the way back only to lose like they did in 2012 against the 49ers. I can’t think of anything worse than if they had lost in overtime.
It was remarkable how poetic the whole thing was. The Julio Jones miracle catch, the kind that always seemed to come with a Pats Super Bowl loss, set up the Falcons within field goal range. At that point all hope was lost. I always say you can’t truly appreciate a miracle win unless you reach that point. Hoodie knows we’ve seen those quite a few times in recent years. You think the Pats are totally out of it and then holy shit, they win.
The Edelman miracle catch was when I finally felt like the Pats just couldn’t be stopped. That the tide had finally turned and they would not be denied. And like everyone else, once they won the coin toss in overtime it seemed like a done deal. I guess we all take for granted how they just marched down the field once again. It sure wasn’t easy but they made it look like it was.
Super Bowl 49 felt like relief. Relief that after such a long run of dominance without another title that they at least got one more. One to erase the disappointment of losing to the Giants twice (somewhat). One to silence all the “they haven’t won anything since Spygate”. But SB49 never felt like the coronation of ultimate greatness that it should’ve.
The trials and tribulations of Deflategate still hung over the team through that win, and despite another title, the haters were emboldened yet again with new ammunition.
But Super Bowl 51 truly put an end to all that. It was the coronation these Patriots truly deserved. An incomprehensible display of football greatness that would go down in history as the most impossible Super Bowl victory of all time.
I don’t know if the Patriots will win another Super Bowl with Brady and Belichick, but it’s just about impossible to top Super Bowl 51. If that ends up being the crowning moment of this historic run, it will be a fitting one.