28-3 was more than just a score in the 3rd quarter of Super Bowl 51. It was a strong lead that turned into the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history.
The New England Patriots had lost this game. Down 25 points to the Atlanta Falcons with 23 total minutes left remaining in the game, no team had ever won the Super Bowl with more than a 10-point deficit.
The Patriots rewrote history. Quarterback Tom Brady cemented his already proven legacy as the greatest quarterback with the first overtime win of the Super Bowl era proving how great and how cruel this sport can be.
For the Atlanta Falcons, the ending was a tragedy. They had multiple opportunities to put the game away, but simply could not. Why? Is it a testament to how great Brady and head coach Bill Belichick truly are? Not entirely.
It takes more than just a player and coaches’ talent to orchestrate a comeback. The mentality and psyche of the team overall is crucial when leading or trailing a game. It can pay dividends or completely sink a team.
The Falcons lost because they got too comfortable. Overconfident with a great lead, they pushed back on the throttle allowing players like Brady, who put together five straight scoring drives. The Falcons panicked demonstrating how no lead can be safe in the NFL.
That is hard to digest considering how the Falcons defense contained Brady early generating five sacks and one pick-six. This opened the Falcon’s offense, running back Devonte Freeman’s footprint was all over the field early averaging 6.8 yards per carry.
Although quarterback Matt Ryan produced three scoring drives, the Patriots defense made great halftime adjustments to stonewall the league MVPs pocket and vision. Ryan was forced in many third-and-long situations that kept his offense on the sideline.
The game’s momentum truly shifted in the fourth quarter when Ryan got striped sacked by Dont'a Hightower with eight minutes remaining in the game. Down 16 points, Brady took control of the game showing discipline with underneath routes.
Methodical and precise, Brady did not make any mistakes as he picked apart the Falcons defensive coverage. This game allowed the football world to see why Brady is the best in the business. Clutch in situations were his team was against the wall, Brady managed to defy all odds.
Many including myself have disputed Brady’s greatness for quite some time, pointing to the team’s coaching and weak scheduling. Super Bowl 51 will be Brady’s greatest victory. With five rings now, nobody can dispute the man’s title as G.O.A.T.