Not even the most avid Patriot’s fans saw it coming. Half the crowd at NRG Stadium was silent while a collective gasp from football fans across America could certainly be felt, if not heard. The New England Patriots, the great dynasty of recent NFL history, the unstoppable force that glided through the season with barely a bump in the road, had fallen flat. The Atlanta Falcons, coming into the game as a 3 point underdog, were supposed to just be happy to be there, were having their way with the Patriots. By the time Lady Gaga was hanging from the rafters like she was the guitar wizard at the end of the SpongeBob movie, the Patriots, led by the great Tom Brady, were in a 21-3 hole.
The Patriots seemed lost. Brady was missing receivers, including a terrible pick six –the kind thrown by a rookie NFL quarterback. Receivers dropped multiple passes and the offensive line was frequently gashed as Brady was sacked four times. The Patriots defense made every Falcons receiver look like Julio Jones. Not all this was fixed after the half. New England was down 28-3 with under three minutes left in the 3rd quarter and began the 4th quarter down 28-9. What happened? Well, it’s very simple. Tom Brady. Down 28-12 with 8:31 to go in the game and Atlanta knocking on the door, ready to blow the game open, everything changed. Matt Ryan fumbled and it was Tom Brady’s game from then on. The patriots not only needed two touchdowns, but also two 2-point conversions just to tie the game.
As for what happened next, many were shocked but none should be surprised. Remember those missed receivers? Not so when the game was on the line in the 4th quarter. It was clutch completion after clutch completion. We’ve seen this from Brady plenty before, but what happened Sunday night was something else entirely. Something that has never been done before that will solidify Brady’s place in NFL and sports history. Brady engineered the largest comeback in Super Bowl history to win a record fifth Lombardi trophy. Five Super Bowl titles, seven conference titles, four Super Bowl MVP’s. There’s no way around it – Brady is the greatest of all time. Anyone who denies it at this point is either a delusional Patriots hater, or Roger Goodell (or both).
Until Sunday, the debate still existed. Some argued Joe Montana was the best due to his notorious coolness under pressure and four super bowl wins. Now Brady has that and more. He has five Super Bowls, and is one fluke helmet catch away from having six. Brady surely doesn’t deserve all the credit. He does, after all, have Bill Belichick, arguably the greatest coach of all time. But coaching alone can’t win you Super Bowls, and it certainly won’t win you five. Brady has done something no one in history has ever done, and probably will never do again. At the end of the game, confetti rained down as Sia’s “The Greatest” played in the background. There was no more fitting song for the occasion. Brady is the greatest, and no one can take that away. Not the Patriot haters, of which there seem to be a growing number, and not delusional fans of other teams. Not even Roger Goodell.