When Patriots quarterback Tom Brady engineered a 25-point comeback in the late stages of regulation time Sunday, I, along with the millions of others watching, knew we had witnessed something truly iconic. Brady’s display of clutch, guts and skill in steering New England back was the finest football I have ever seen played on the gridiron.
It seemed as if Murphy’s Law was constantly at play early on for the Pats — if it could go wrong, it did go wrong for them. I mean, even when the Pats finally cracked the goal line late in the third quarter on a James White touchdown, Patriots All-Pro kicker Stephen Gostkowski clanked the extra point off the right goal post.
Following the rare blunder from Gostkowski, Atlanta led the Patriots, 28-9, with two minutes remaining in the third quarter. At this point, ESPN Stats and Info reported online that the Falcons had a 98.9 percent win probability. Atlanta owner Arthur Blank vacated his suite to come down to the sidelines to celebrate the first Lombardi Trophy in franchise history.
What followed in the next hour of real time was the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. The 51st playing of the NFL’s championship contest saw New England outscore the Falcons 19-0 in the fourth quarter to send the game to overtime.
In overtime, the Patriots — gushing with momentum — drove the ball downfield and ended the game on a two-yard Lombardi-clinching touchdown run from White.
To put things into perspective, the largest Super Bowl comeback before Sunday’s was 10 points; the Patriots overcame a 25-point deficit.
I think it’s safe to say that this game will be passed down from football generation to football generation for quite a long time — possibly forever. On that hallowed day when the NFL reaches Super Bowl 100, I am confident that everyone (including a 68-year-old version of myself) will still look back on No. 51 with great admiration.
Entering Sunday night’s spectacle, other folks with a half-decent, objective following of the NFL and I could have already told you this: Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of all time.
While sifting through the Twitter-sphere and engaging in conversations with those around me, I marveled that people still felt there was any debate at all to this matter. Some still opted to go with the half-respectable Brady-Montana debate, which I could live with (but I had already felt Brady pulled ahead of his childhood hero before Super Bowl LI was played).
Just a few weeks ago, I could not believe the disrespect I saw from sports media outlets nationwide. Folks that I thought were decent commentators on the game were crowning Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers as the greatest quarterback in the NFL. Some even mentioned him being the “Michael Jordan of football.”
You’ve got to be kidding me, right? When I saw these debates running across my screen, I immediately rushed to the obituaries online to see if something tragic had happened to Brady, because they seemed to forget he existed. It really felt like the sports world was collectively anointing Rodgers as the GOAT that week before the NFC Championship Game before the Falcons put an abrupt halt to that chatter.
And while the stat geeks and number-crunchers can give you thousands of numbers evaluating quarterback play, there is only one true measure of a signal caller’s worth: wins. Brady has undisputedly been doing this “winning” thing far longer and more consistently than anyone else in history.
With 208 career wins as a starter, Brady is the winningest quarterback in NFL history. Brady’s 25-9 record in postseason play is also tops for most playoff wins of all time. And for those who are swayed by statistical measures, Brady ranks fourth all-time in both passing touchdowns (456) and yards (61,582).
If you hadn’t caught this drift by now, then I must formally disclose that I am a New England Patriots fan. Yes, I am the very-hateable black sheep, a Patriots fan in Southern California.
When it comes to hecklers, I’ve heard it all, from “bandwagon-er!” (which I can assure you I am not), to “deflator,” to “Beli-Cheater!” One of the newest insults tossed my way came a few weeks ago, when someone asked me, “You’re probably a Warriors fan, too, right?”
I can assure you that I am not a Golden State fan (my NBA loyalties, for better or worse, lie with the Lakers). I must also put it out there that I became a Pats supporter back in 2006 after I played Madden ’06 (Donovan McNabb cover) for the first time when I was just eight years old.
Now that I’ve cleared that air, let’s get back to Sunday’s game.
For the sole purpose of word count and tending to your attention span, I’ll just drop this nugget: With Sunday’s victory, Bill Belichick is also now the GOAT NFL coach. Dissecting this claim, however, is for another column on another day.
As for the brightest shining star on Super Bowl Sunday, Brady picked up his fourth Super Bowl MVP award: an NFL record. A 466-yard, two-touchdown effort earned Brady the honor.
Words can’t explain how glorious it was seeing Brady and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell together Monday morning on the same stage for the Super Bowl MVP trophy presentation.
Just how epic would it have been if Tommy whipped out an air pump on stage and pretended to inflate the MVP trophy — which actually resembles a football.
But as usual, Brady was graceful in accepting the award from the commissioner, who was anything but graceful to him throughout the Deflategate saga.
Looking back, what an incredible Super Bowl this was. But for me, it only cemented Brady’s legacy as the best to ever strap it up.
Is he the GOAT? Two words: “Roger that.”
Angel Viscarra is a sophomore studying broadcast and digital journalism. His column, Viscarra’s Vice, runs on Tuesdays.