Dismantle the debate team. It’s over.
As silly as the overused acronym GOAT – Greatest Of All Time – might be, it’s an accurate and well-deserved descriptor when it comes to these New England Patriots.
They have found ways of turning regular-season dominance into cardiac-kid Super Bowl wins. Two years ago, Malcolm Butler stole the heart right out of Seattle’s seeming lock on a Super Bowl win with a goal-line interception 20 seconds before the Seahawks were supposed to start their own dynasty.
After the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history, stealing a 34-28 overtime win from the Atlanta Falcons after trailing 28-3 in the third quarter, Belichick and Brady now have five Super Bowl titles, all coming since 2001. It’s the most in NFL history for a head coach or quarterback.
The debate is done and won. Brady: greatest quarterback of all time. Belichick: greatest NFL coach of all time. They’ve done it together, building inseparable Super Bowl supremacy.
Belichick broke the tie of four Super Bowl wins over Chuck Noll. The Hoodie now has 26 career postseason wins, most in NFL history. The Patriots have won eight consecutive AFC East titles, the longest streak all-time.
How “cardiac” were the Patriots? Their five Super Bowls have been won by a combined 19 points – three, three, three, four and six points. Super Bowl LI’s six-point win was their largest, and they needed overtime to once again prove that Brady and Belichick are the bosses. It was the first overtime in an NFL championship game since 1958 and the first in Super Bowl history.
Brady, who was misfiring in the first half and threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown, turned it all around when the pressure of the moment was squarely on his chiseled shoulders. His 466 yards passing were the most in Super Bowl history and second-most in NFL playoff history.
Brady completed 43 of 62 passes for 466 yards, two touchdowns and a first-half interception. Super Bowl quarterbacks have attempted 50 or more passes six times and only won twice. Brady owns both of those victories because that’s what Super Bowl bosses do.
Down 28-3 in the third quarter, he led five consecutive scoring drives (excluding a one-play drive at the end of regulation) to not only orchestrate the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history, but it was the biggest in Patriots franchise history.
He extended the Super Bowl and playoff records he already owned for most passing attempts, completions and touchdowns. He broke the Super Bowl record for most starts, most wins and most MVP performances. But this one was especially special, given the incredible and improbable comeback nature of it all.
New England was the fifth team in NFL history to win after trailing by 25 points or more, but they are the only one to do it on football’s grandest Super Bowl stage.
Brady will be hailed as the king of the Super Bowl comeback, but RB James White scored two touchdowns, including New England’s first touchdown in the fourth quarter and the game-winner in overtime, and he had the game-tying two-point conversion with 57 seconds left. He was the first player in postseason history to score a touchdown in the fourth quarter and overtime, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
His 14 receptions were the most in Super Bowl history and he set the Super Bowl record with 20 points in the game.
The sting is sharpest in Atlanta, where the Falcons will forever be scrutinized for their approach late in the fourth quarter. Desperately clinging to a 28-20 lead, Matt Ryan took control of the ball with less than six minutes to play at his own 10-yard line and in only three plays drove the Falcons to the New England 22-yard line.
The ball was in field goal position and a 10-point lead with 3½ minutes would seem to have sealed Atlanta’s first Super Bowl title.
Facing first-and-10 there, Devonta Freeman ran for a 1-yard loss, Ryan was sacked for an 11-yard loss and a holding penalty on another pass play backed the Falcons out of field goal range to the 45-yard line, where Ryan threw an incompletion, allowing the Patriots to have two timeouts and forcing a punt with 3½ minutes to play.
That sequence of plays set up the Patriots for a 91-yard, history-making Brady-Belichick touchdown drive to add to their lore.
In overtime, the Falcons never saw the ball. Brady connected on his first five passes – one of the two he missed on the drive was negated by a pass interference call to set up the game-winning touchdown run by White.
For the first 45 minutes the Falcons dominated the stats and the scoreboard, but for the final 15 minutes – and last 15 years – it was, and has been, Brady and Belichick.
- Falcons RBs Freeman and Tevin Coleman and TE Austin Hooper all scored touchdowns for the Falcons, making the Falcons the first team in Super Bowl history to have three players all under the age of 24, score touchdowns in a Super Bowl, according to Elias. It will be little consolation to them now, but it bodes well for the future of the Falcons … if they can somehow overcome the mental hurdle of the crushing collapse.
- Atlanta is the first team in Super Bowl history to have a pick-six touchdown and still lose, according to Pro Football Reference, and Ryan’s 144.1 rating is the highest in Super Bowl history by a losing quarterback.