Shirk: Patriots redefine Super Bowl LI

Talk about a rollercoaster.


The moment Tevin Coleman secured an eight-yard pass from Matt Ryan to extend the Falcons’ lead to 28-3 over the New England Patriots, you knew the Patriots were going to make a comeback.

There was no way Tom Brady would let his squad go down in blowout fashion. No way.

The Patriots had experience. Bill Belichick and Brady were playing in their seventh championship.

Sure enough, Brady and company, down 25 points in the Super Bowl, rallied to turn a snooze-fest of a Super Bowl into arguably the greatest Super Bowl of all time.

Talk about a rollercoaster.

Once you’ve settled back down, or even if you’re still dizzy from all that transpired in the fourth quarter and overtime, you can’t deny it: the New England Patriots are Super Bowl champions. Again.

So, where do we begin?

Coming into the game, all the talk was about how the young Falcons defense wouldn’t be able to handle the Patriots. The Falcons wouldn’t be able to handle the pressure of being on the biggest sports stage in the nation.

Add to the young defense that Falcons center Alex Mack was playing with a fracture in his right fibula, and you can see why some people believed that the Falcons wouldn’t stand a chance, even after dominant performances over the Packers and the Seahawks.

And for three quarters, the Falcons proved the critics wrong.

For 45 minutes, I can imagine the city of Atlanta was exuberant about their team’s uncanny ability to pressure Brady into throwing errant passes. They undoubtedly had Brady’s number. They took him out of his comfort zone.

Offensively, Matt Ryan lived up to everything an NFL MVP playing in the Super Bowl should be. He didn’t disappoint. He picked apart New England’s secondary as though he had been doing for his entire career.

Add in the sweet feet of Devonta Freeman, and surely Atlanta would be able to coast to victory, right?

Well, if the game were only 45 minutes, then yes, the Falcons would be Super Bowl champions, and this column would be very different.

But there are at least 60 minutes in every NFL game. And 15 minutes (and then some in overtime) was all Tom Brady needed to cement himself as the greatest quarterback of all time. Yes, there’s no longer any question. He is, as the kids say, the GOAT.