Well, in spite of all my complaining all the time, the National Football League always finds a way to keep my fandom — such as yesterday’s epic Super Bowl LI game in Houston between the Patriots and Falcons, won by New England 34-28 in overtime after they had trailed 28-3 in the third quarter.
Many are asking if it was the greatest Super Bowl of all time. Just the fact it’s in the conversation tells you all you need to know. All I will say is NFL Films will probably have to do a full two-hour documentary on this game for its historical importance. All kinds of records fell: greatest comeback in Super Bowl history (25 points), the fifth Super Bowl title each with the Pats for quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick, and a whole laundry list of individual records. Check out this list of them compiled at ESPN.
This was the first Super Bowl to be decided in overtime and, by extension, it was the longest game in Super Bowl history. This was also, incredibly, the third straight North American pro sports title in a row, after the World Series and MLS Cup, to be settled after regulation time. (Just for laughs, the most recent Grey Cup and World Junior Hockey titles were decided after regulation time, too.)
If you count pre-Super Bowl years, the last time an NFL title was decided in an overtime game was, in fact, the epic 1958 championship between the New York Giants and the Baltimore Colts. That game ended in a remarkably similar fashion to this Super Bowl, with a run play scoring the winning touchdown in OT.
A lot of people think that Colts OT game was the greatest and most important game in NFL history. Certainly, it touched off a decade of massive growth for pro football to become the most popular sport in the USA, overtaking baseball.
I don’t know if this Patriots-Falcons game will have similar historical importance. More likely, it’ll go down as the game that rescued this league from the abyss, for all I know.
After all the recent squawking from people about how terrible and in-decline the NFL product is, and in spite of franchise moves, Deflategate, Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the anthems and all the other nonsense, the game has risen above all its critics. Again!
Mind you, the Super Bowl commercials yesterday also helped. And some people liked Lady Gaga, too.
As for the fans in Atlanta, their proud city continues its long run as one of the all-time great losertowns of professional sports, right down there with Buffalo. The curse may have been lifted in Cleveland and in north-side Chicago last year, but it goes on for the entire city of Atlanta, for teams like the Bills, Chargers, Bengals, Panthers and Vikings, and for a whole host of other places.