Black Quarterback: Super Bowl 51 Review
By Brandon Simmons
The New England Patriots have won their 5th Super Bowl beating the Atlanta Falcons 34-28. Quarterback Tom Brady put on one his best performances in the same game he put on one of his worst performances. In a postseason defined by numerous blowouts, it was only fitting that the closest game had to decide the world championship.
A Tale of Two Halfs
This was more than a football game; it was essentially two halfs of football being played. The first half belonged to Atlanta without question. The Falcons came out the gate with huge runs by running back Devontae Freeman, who scored the game’s first touchdown. Wide receiver Julio Jones even broke out with a couple of catches to move the ball down the field in the 2nd quarter to set Freeman up for the that touchdown in the 2n quarter and the touchdown by tight end Alvin Hooper. Not only did the Falcons offense dominate but their defense did some damage as well. Brady was under pressure for most of the 1st half, which included forcing him to throw a pick 6 to Falcons cornerback Robert Alford.
In the 2nd half the story was completely different. Despite the scoring a touchdown to make the score 28-3, the Falcons just could not stop Brady from coming for them. First, the Patriots score a touchdown to make it 28-9, which could have been 10 if no for the extra point being missed. But when the 4th quarter arrived, that’s when he really turned up the fire. Brady threw for 196 yards and touchdown in the 4th, finishing the game with 466 yards. He was also helped by 3 defensive holding calls against the Falcons on one drive and a fumble by Matt Ryan in Falcons territory. Not to mention, the catch by Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman that bounced off the leg of the Atlanta defender. Then it was the Patriots defense who was able to get pressure on Ryan and make a few stops as well.
This was a game of momentum and the Patriots picked up that momentum at the right time. The Falcons were brilliant on defense in the 1st quarter and well into the 2nd, but could not keep it going after halftime. Their pass rush was neutralized as the game went on and it allowed for Brady to hit his receivers on intermediate routes that pushed the ball downfield and kept the drive alive. This included the catch by Julian Edelman which bounced off the defender’s leg. The Falcons made some plays but not enough of them. Julio Jones showed up with 4 catches and 87 yards but they could not get him the ball enough times down the field.
Falcons Let the Warriors off the Hook
Since last year’s NBA Finals, the running joke is that the Golden State Warriors blew a 3-1 lead to lose the series to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Thanks to the Atlanta Falcons, the Warriors have to be let off the hook since they gave up a 28-3 lead in the 2nd half. Now it was against one of the greatest quarterbacks in the Super Bowl era, but Golden State got trashed by the public and social media for blowing their championship hopes away against one of the greatest players in the NBA right now.
The NFL’s postseason games are single-elimination, so 1 quarter played could be equivalent to one NBA Finals game. The Falcons going up 28-3 is probably as close to a 3-1 series lead as you are going to get. The obvious difference between the two is that the Warriors actually had a chance to regroup after each loss, while the Falcons needed to make their adjustments within that game. Now they have possibly adjusted public opinion and shifted themselves into the joke.
Can’t Deny Greatness
As much criticism Brady has had casted on him and his team – some of it justifiably so – nobody can deny that he put on a great career moment Sunday. These are the things every fan base dreams about for their star players, if not for themselves. It doesn’t get better than leading your team on a 25 point comeback to win the Super Bowl! Yes, the defense got after Matt Ryan a little bit more in the 2nd half and even forced a fumble, but without Brady leading those time-consuming drives, we are having a different conversation.
Surprisingly, there is a crazy component on deciding who is the best out of the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick duo; and that is which one needs the other to invalidate the other’s label as the greatest. Last night, Brady won that part of the argument. He basically led this team to score 31 points when it looked like they were down and out early in the 3rd quarter. Also, these weren’t just runs that moved the ball, Brady was hitting guys on their usual crossing routes and flats, something Atlanta just did not have an answer for in that 2nd half, amongst other things. It’s a prisoner of the moment feel right now, to call Brady the GOAT of all the quarterbacks but last night’s performance is one that will have him in the conversation if he does not have the crown.
Despite how people feel about the New England Patriots, the NFL finished the year with one of their best games of the season. A lot of people thought the Falcons would get blown out entirely but that was not the case; neither was the Patriots taking a loss, which many people believed after the first half. The Falcons had this game, but their reputation for not playing solid defense ultimately cost them. But MVP Matt Ryan still has some time left to go after another Super Bowl, while the Falcons defense still has some time to grow and get better. Outside of Spygate and Deflategate, the Patriots have had always had a pretty good squad. As Brady nears the end of his career as well as Belichick, it will be interesting to see how this team will compete when either one of them decides to leave. But until next season…I’ll holla!
Powered by Facebook Comments