How Did the Patriots Come Back to Beat the Falcons in the Super Bowl?
Super Bowl 51 was one of the most exciting games in Super Bowl history and represented the first time a team won a Super Bowl without leading at any point during regulation. What started off as a slaughter by the Atlanta Falcons ended up as a jarring comeback win by the New England Patriots that cements the legacies of Coach Bill Belichick and Quarterback Tom Brady who now have a record of 5 – 2 in a record seven Super Bowl appearances. But just how were the Patriots able to come back in Super Bowl 51?
Falcons Moving Away from their Strength
In the first half, the Atlanta Falcons were hitting on all cylinders. The Falcons have long been reliant on their dynamic offense led by Quarterback Matt Ryan and Wide Receiver Julio Jones. The Falcons were converting first downs, completing down the field passes, and winning the time of possession. In other words, the Falcons were relying on just what led their team to the Super Bowl in the first place. In the second half, the Falcons moved to a conservative model with a 28 – 3 lead and let the Patriots back into the game. When the Falcons should have been aggressive and put the nail in the coffin, they dialed back, tried to wear out the clock, and the Patriots capitalized with quick tds, two point conversions, and eventually tied the game in regulation and won the game in overtime.
Not Taking The Options Available
The Patriots are an opportunistic team that takes the points that are available to them. When the Falcons were aggressive in Q4 and hit Julio Jones for a beautiful sideline catch that was similar to the David Tyree catch by New York Giants receiver against the Patriots. In field goal range, the Falcons needed to simply nail a field goal and put Super Bowl 51 out of reach for the Patriots. Instead, they tried to pass the ball, turned it over with a Matt Ryan fumble and gave the Patriots new life which they capitalized on. If the Falcons would have simply taken the points available to them they would have won this game.
Providence Coming Through
Sometimes perseverance and hard work are the key factors that turn around a ball game. That and a little bit of providence coming through, of course. The catch that Julian Edelman made had a little bit of both. Belichick has honored Edelman as a hardworking player who will do anything to win and who doesn’t ever give up on plays. Edelman’s 20 yard catch on a tipped pass from Tom Brady that turned into the key play on the game tying drive by the Patriots. This can do and hard working spirit, combined with a bit of luck, is one of the key factors that kept the Patriots in the Super Bowl and allowed them to beat the Falcons in overtime.
A Dizzying Array of Options
When Rob Gronkowski went out with an injury after week 13 many thought the Patriots season was over, with no true offensive threat. However, the Patriots relied on what they always do, a dizzying array of options on offense. While the Patriots defense likes to shut down the first option for their opponents, the Patriots offense doesn’t truly have a one threat, they have a wide range of them. That is what turns Edelman, White, and Amendola a start on any given night. It also makes the Patriots incredibly challenging to defend on two point conversions. The Patriots, facing a two point conversion, went to Amendola on their two point attempt and tied up the game at a critical point.
Coming back from a 28 to 3 deficit against a top flight offense is not easy, but the Patriots were able to do so by remaining aggressive, capitalizing on the docility of the Falcons, and converting their opportunities into a comeback for the ages.