Recap of Super Bowl LI
Patriots Win Super Bowl in Overtime Thriller
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The New England Patriots have won the Super Bowl, again.
Fifty years after the first championship game between the NFL and the AFL, Super Bowl LI will go down in history as one of the greatest Super Bowls in history; it was the first Super Bowl to go into overtime, and the way it happened was incredible.
A scoreless first quarter went by before Atlanta exploded in the second quarter. On the first play of the second quarter, Atlanta linebacker Deion Jones forced a fumble from Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount. Atlanta defensive back Robert Alford recovered it, allowing quarterback Matt Ryan to drive the team down the field to score the first touchdown of the game. Alford later picked off Tom Brady and ran it back 82 yards – the first postseason pick-six of Brady’s career. The Patriots’ only score of the first half came with a late field goal; the teams went to the locker room with the score being 21-3 Falcons.
In the second half, Atlanta’s Tevin Coleman, a Chicago native from Oak Forest, scored another touchdown to make it 28-3. The Patriots were down 28-3 and by this point, it’s safe to say many in America did not believe the Patriots could come back from this. But a game is never over until the clock hits 0:00. With two minutes left in the third quarter, the Patriots’ historic comeback began. James White scored a touchdown, but kicker Stephen Gostkowski banked the extra point off the upright. The score was 28-9, and in the fourth quarter with 9:44 remaining, Gostkowski was forced to kick another field goal to make the score 28-12. The deficit was at sixteen points now, and ESPN was projecting the Falcons’ win probability to be 99.6%.
However, in the next nine minutes, a flurry of Patriots defensive and offensive moves occurred. Matt Ryan was strip-sacked and the Patriots recovered, leading to a touchdown and a 2-point conversion by Danny Amendola and White, respectively. On the next Patriots’ possession, with 2:24 left to play and the Patriots driving down the field, Brady made a pass to Julian Edelman who made a spectacular catch after the pass was deflected by the Falcons’ Alford. The ball fell into a diving Edelman’s arms, barely catching it before it hit the ground. Three passes later, Brady had put the Patriots on the Falcons’ 1-yard line. White ran in the ball for the touchdown, and Amendola got the tying two points with only 57 seconds left. Atlanta squandered a possession late in the 4th, and New England opted to send the Super Bowl to its very first overtime.
The Patriots won the coin toss and elected to receive. They started on their own 25-yard line after a touchback. After five plays, Brady had driven the ball fifty yards to the Falcons’ 25-yard line. Brady then went for the touchdown to Martellus Bennett, a former Bear, but he was interfered with by De’Vondre Campbell, and the ball was placed on the 1-yard line. On first and goal, Brady passed to Bennett again in the endzone, but it was almost intercepted by Vic Beasley and went incomplete. On second and goal, Brady gave the ball to White again, who was hit at the 1-yard line by Falcons defenders. However, he stretched forward and got the ball across the goal line just before his knee hit the ground. White had scored the very first game-winning touchdown in Super Bowl history, and the New England Patriots were champions once more.
The Patriots broke several NFL records for the game. They made a record ninth appearance in the big game and made the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history (the previous record had been their own ten-point comeback two years ago against Seattle) and the third-largest comeback in postseason history. Tom Brady, who has made a record seventh appearance in the Super Bowl, now has five Super Bowl rings, the most by any quarterback, and has a record four Super Bowl MVP awards. Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick broke the record for most Super Bowl appearances by a coach with a single team. Belichick, like Brady, has been to seven Super Bowls with the Patriots and won five of them.
Of course, the game was only one of the things that was trending on social media. Lady Gaga performed the headline act at halftime. She started the show off on a high note with a pre-recorded film of her on top of NRG Stadium, singing “God Bless America” and “This Land is Your Land,” while 300 Intel-operated drones flew behind her and formed an American flag. This in itself was another first set during the Super Bowl: drones being used for a television broadcast. Lady Gaga then jumped into the stadium attached to guidewires, where the live portion began. She sang a number of her songs including “Poker Face,” “Born This Way,” and “Just Dance.” She ended the show by singing “Bad Romance,” dropping the mike, and jumping off the stage and into the crowd to catch a football in midair.
And as always, the commercials were popular among viewers. A few celebrities were used in a few commercials. Cam Newton appeared in a Buick commercial as the quarterback for a peewee football team. In a Kia commercial, Melissa McCarthy protested for various environmental causes, each ending disastrously and humorously for her. A commercial of Mr. Clean caught particular attention when it featured the titular character dancing around the house as he cleaned it. Sprint made a commercial in which a Verizon user resorted to faking his death to get out of his contract with Verizon and then learning all he had to do was switch to Sprint. In addition the the humorous commercials, a number of TV shows and movies ran adds as well. The Fate of the Furious, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Logan, and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales were a few of them.
Two commercials were filmed while the game was happening. In Snickers’ case, they filmed their commercial live in which Adam Driver, known for his portrayal of Kylo Ren in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, walked onto the set and, not realizing they were live, accidentally caused a chain reaction that destroyed the set, with the tagline “You ruin live Super Bowl commercials when you’re hungry.” Driver was supposed to destroy the set, of course. After the game ended, Hyundai aired a commercial in which three US servicemen and women stationed in Poland were led into a room with 360-degree screens. The screens turned on to display the game, and when the soldiers looked to their sides, they discovered their families were at the game. A 360-degree camera was with the families, standing in for their missing loved one, but the soldiers themselves were being filmed, so both the soldiers and their families could interact with each other and watch the game together.
With the historic game over, it’s once again time for every team to relax for the offseason. In the Patriots’ case, they’re looking forward to celebrating during the offseason, again.