That's why they're the Patriots. (URR here.)
After a dismal first half in which the Atlanta Falcons' speed on defense and running game on offense had their way, and after giving up a touchdown after a long Atlanta drive with 4:14 to go in the 3rd quarter, the Patriots found themselves down 28-3. Tom Brady was taking a beating, was sacked, hurried, and hit almost every time he dropped back until that point. Brady was out of synch with his receivers, missing open routes, and throwing a bad second quarter interception in Falcon territory that was returned 70 yards for a touchdown. Even when the Patriots finally put it in the end zone, the extra point hit the upright, and it was 28-9 with just over 2 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter.
But Belichick, his coaches, and his nonpariel quarterback made their adjustments. They took what a talented Falcons defense gave them, and stymied the Atlanta offense in which the running game suddenly had little room. Brady finally had some time in the pocket, and picked apart the Falcon secondary. In the 4th Quarter, Brady and the Patriots positively dominated on both sides of the football. Brady threw for 196 yards in the final quarter alone, and with just 50 seconds to play in regulation, the Patriots scored for the second drive in a row, and for the second time, were successful on the 2-point conversion. The game was suddenly tied at 28. The first overtime in Super Bowl history was about to begin. One football expert called Atlanta's second half the "biggest collapse since Hillary tried to get in the minivan". (Okay, that was XBRAD's cleverness.)
New England won the toss, and after a touchback on the kickoff, Brady methodically drove the Patriots 75 yards. From the Falcon 8 yard line, Brady got a favorable matchup with a linebacker on tight end Martellus Bennett, and got a blatant pass interference call to give New England an automatic first down and the ball at the 3. After an incompletion on the next play, halfback James White took it in for the touchdown, and the Patriots had completed the biggest comeback in NFL playoff history. There is little argument that can now be made that Brady is not the greatest quarterback ever to play the game. Five championships, four Super Bowl MVPs, and at 39, a performance for the ages (43 for 62, for a SB-record 466 yards) on the biggest stage of his sport. And Bill Belichick, he of the mumbling, tooth-sucking press conferences, is the greatest coach of the Super Bowl era, and one of the two greatest of all time, behind only some guy named Lombardi. An emotional Brady, whose mother is seriously ill, embraced his alter-ego coach once the game had ended.
If you get a chance, watch the highlights. Great plays, great performances from players on both teams. But the night belongs to Tom Brady, yet again, and his Patriots teammates. They were all but left for dead when down 25 points, but proceeded to score 31 unanswered, and hoisted their fifth trophy of the Belichick/Brady era.
(Perhaps the highlight of the night was not watching Lady Gag-me the walking petri dish with yet another inane political rant at halftime.)