Patriots 34 – 28 Falcons
Let’s face it, what the world witnessed on February 5th was the greatest Super Bowl in NFL history. This game had it all— unearthly catches, crazy comebacks, and flashy defensive plays. It is common knowledge that much of America was rooting against the perennial winners. And many who watched the demolition of the ruthless Patriots machine, myself included, were ecstatic over Brady and Belichick’s humiliation. We celebrated as Tom Brady, unquestionably the greatest quarterback of all time, was intercepted for a touchdown, the first of his postseason career. Fans cheered every time he was taken down for a sack or a drive stalled. And it was gratifying to see Matt Ryan and the Falcons receivers destroy the Patriots’ nifty defense en route to a 28-3 lead. But Brady proved us wrong yet again. With only 8 minutes left in the game and trailing badly 28-12, Brady converted a touchdown off a strip sack of Matt Ryan and engineered a 91 yard drive, highlighted by a mind-blowing, physics-defying catch by Julian Edelman. A two point conversion later, and Brady brought his team back from a 25 point deficit to tie, 28-28. To put this into perspective: the second biggest comeback in Super Bowl history was from 10 points down.
In the ensuing overtime Brady leisurely swept down the field, completing his first six passes of the drive and landing outside in the redzone in mere minutes. At this point it was a foregone conclusion. James White sealed the game with a two yard touchdown run to hand Brady and Belichick their record fifth Super Bowl.
Everything had to go right did for the Patriots, and it did. The only thing that mars the win for the Patriots is the reaction from their fans. Patriots supporters are already notorious for their insufferable hubris, bandwagoning, and inability to cope with losing. Having seen their team in the Super Bowl six times before this year, countless Patriots fans, in an act of faithlessness, turned off the TV when their team started losing. Because of this attitude, many people hoped that Patriots fans would finally learn a lesson: an opportunity like watching your team play in the Super Bowl should not be taken for granted. A loss to the Falcons might have shown to Patriots followers the value of losing. Fans should aim to be graceful in victory as well as in defeat and learn to cope with losses as well as wins. Patriots fans are not only guilty of this, but many of other sports as well. When the Miami Heat fell behind in Game 6 of the 2014 NBA finals, hundreds of Heat fans left the game early. And during the championship years of 2012 and 2013, during which Lebron James carried the franchise, millions of basketball fans around the country suddenly became Heat fans. But now the Heat is mediocre at best and the fans who supported the Heat now root for big names such as the Warriors or Cavaliers. The Patriots establish a frustrating precedent of lack of loyalty. No one wants to bear the hardships of losing, only the weightlessness of victory. And many “fairweather” Patriots fans enjoyed that this year.
Many ‘haters’ envy the Patriots for their success. Others bemoan the ‘bandwagon fans’— the many people outside of New England who are drawn to the Patriots for their continuous success, ability to deal with adversity, and, of course, Tom Brady. Still more dig up the old Spygate scandal or more recent, overemphasized Deflategate scandal as the reason for the Patriots’ endless reign. A popular storyline of this Super Bowl was the prospect of Roger Goodell, the commissioner who forced a four game suspension on Tom Brady for the deflated footballs. It isn’t clear who fans hate more, Goodell or the Patriots. According to a national poll, the Patriots are the most disliked NFL team as of the 2016 season. It is understandable for Jets, Dolphins, and Bills fans to loathe the Patriots for winning the division 13 of the past 14 seasons. However, fans without a rooting interest have to learn to respect the Patriots for their commitment and excellence. Teams and their fans should not envy the greatness we witnessed in this Super Bowl, but emulate it.