Feb. 08, 2017
"The Stack" 2-6-17
The Stack is back on this Monday morning and I don’t know about you, but I am still in shock about what happened in Houston, Texas, last night at Super Bowl LI (51). The New England Patriots pull off the biggest comeback in the Super Bowl, overcoming a 25 point deficit to beat the Atlanta Falcons. The Stack is here with reaction to it all so let’s get right to “the stack” for today, Monday, February 6th:
Patriots 34 Falcons 28
In what may have been the best Super Bowl of all-time, the New England Patriots came back from 25 points down to beat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28. History was made in multiple ways in the Super Bowl. Teams with a 19 plus point lead after the third quarter were 93-0 in NFL postseason history. The Falcons had a 28-3 lead at one point in the third quarter and led 28-9 after the third quarter. Then the fourth quarter happened. The Patriots kicked a field goal to make it 28-12. No worries for the Falcons or their fans. They were still in control of this game. But uh-oh, Matt Ryan was sacked in Patriots territory and fumbled it on a play where it looked like running back Devonta Freeman missed his assignment and didn’t block Donta Hightower. If you’re looking for a play in the game in which the momentum swung in this game, that would seem to be the play that did it. Tom Brady and the Patriots worked their tails off to get back in this game. They ran roughly 90 offensive plays and had a two-to-one ratio of plays to the Falcons. James White was a huge weapon all night long for the Patriots catching fourteen passes out of the backfield. Brady threw a touchdown to Danny Amendola and then White ran it in for two to make the game a one score game at 28-20.
I realize I’m kind of all over the map in this one. The Falcons got the ball back and Matt Ryan made the most of it on a pass to Freeman who had no one around him and picked up close to 40 yards. Later in the drive Ryan made a pass he probably should not have thrown to Julio Jones who with great concentration was able to reel in the catch and tap his toes down before going out of bounds to set up the Falcons in tremendous position to kick a field goal and go up by two possessions and essentially put the game out of reach for the Patriots. That wouldn’t happen. A sack, a holding penalty and a few other mistakes doomed the Falcons and pushed them out of field goal range. I struggle with the play-calling after Jones’ catch, but I get it to a degree. The Falcons wanted to remain aggressive and Ryan has been tremendous out of shotgun this season. Yet, they were having tremendous success running the football off tackle and in the perimeter. Why wouldn’t you run it three times or at the very least twice and force the Patriots to use their timeouts? Matt Bryant is a very good kicker. The Falcons were perhaps too aggressive and it cost them at scoring some points and putting this game away.
When the Patriots got the ball back, Brady had a couple of passes that the Falcons tipped but couldn’t reel in including one pass to Julian Edelman who made a David Tyree-esque catch that you simply have to see to believe. Alford for Atlanta tipped it and three Falcons went for it and somehow after it bounced off of a Falcons player Edelman caught it, lost it momentarily and then secured it without it touching the ground. Unbelievable play! The Patriots would strike later with James White rushing in for a touchdown and then Brady completed the two point conversion to Amendola. The Patriots won the coin toss in overtime, the first ever overtime game in the Super Bowl and you just knew they were going to drive down and win this game. The Falcons defense was gassed, they were doubting themselves and the Patriots had all of the momentum. They were feeling it. They were extremely confident and the Falcons couldn’t get a pass rush on Brady. A pass interference penalty set up the Patriots at the Falcons two and Brady threw a fade to Martellus Bennett on first and goal that could have (and perhaps should have) been picked off, but was simply batted away. Then it was White’s turn on a pitch as he fought off a tackle and scored the game-winning touchdown. Patriots 34, Falcons 28.
Brady was absolutely unbelievable in this comeback. He set a Super Bowl record with 466 passing yards. Had it not been for his heroics and accurate passing, the Patriots would not have won this game. Brady won MVP and every Patriots fan must have just loved seeing NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell have to shake Brady’s hand and congratulate him and hand Patriots owner Robert Kraft the Lombardi Trophy for a fifth time. The unsung hero and perhaps the rightful MVP was White. He scored three touchdowns and reeled in fourteen catches for 110 yards. He was absolutely sensational. Just like their last Super Bowl win against the Seahawks, this was a Super Bowl the Patriots probably should not have won, but they found a way. They always do (except when the play the Giants). That’s what Brady and Belichick do. The Falcons lost this game in part, but it seems to me that this was more the Patriots fighting back and winning this one versus the Falcons outright losing it.
This loss will sting and stay with the Falcons for a long time. They were in absolute control of this game. They pick-six by Robert Alford made it 21-0 with just over two minutes left in the second quarter. They were up 28-3 in the third quarter and somehow they lost. The offense couldn’t get back on track and the defense got tired. That’s what happens when you’re on the field for forty minutes. You’ll wear down and the Falcons did in this one. The Falcons play-calling can certainly be questioned, but this was more the Patriots winning. I feel for the Falcons. I feel for the players. I feel for the fans. I feel for the city of Atlanta and the state of Georgia. This loss hurts and will hurt for quite some time. They may never recover. Atlanta’s got a very good nucleus of talent, but they’re losing offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan to San Francisco and the Super Bowl hangover is a very real thing. I don’t know how the Falcons will handle this.
Not that this should have ever been in doubt, but Tom Brady is the best quarterback ever to play the game. He’s now won five Super Bowls. And Brady and Belichick are the best quarterback-head coach combo in NFL history. Love ‘em or hate ‘em (and most people strongly dislike the Patriots), you can’t deny just how good of a team they are. The Patriots dynasty continues. It lives on and they will continue to be in contention for Super Bowl championships as long as Brady and Belichick are together. What an amazing Super Bowl. Congratulations to the New England Patriots.
As for Lady Gaga, I thought her halftime show was good. I wasn’t really drawn into it and was doing some other things, but I had no issue with her performance. Starting out with God Bless America was a bit of a stunner, but it was just fine. I’ve seen far more people praising her performance and liking it than I have people who didn’t like it.
The commercials were once again a disappointment, but Kia came through with flying colors with their commercial featuring Melissa McCarthy. Very funny. Speaking of colors, how do you get stains out of white shirts? Tide delivered with their commercials featuring Terry Bradshaw. Outstanding work. The rest of the commercials were just kind of ‘eh. Commercials as a whole have sucked the last five years or so and this year was no exception, but at least Kia and Tide made the most of the five million dollars that companies had to pay for a 30 second timeslot.
Coming up later this week: College basketball headlines plus other top headlines from the sports world