From deflated to elated

Super Bowl Sunday is always a treat for American sports fans. Coming after the conclusion of the college football season and before March Madness begins, it’s the perfect time for the biggest game of the year. And this year gave the sports world one to remember.

The New England Patriots were a team that had plenty of doubts coming into the season after the pre-season ban of star quarterback Tom Brady kept him off the field for the first four games of the season. Despite his absence, however, legendary head coach Bill Belichick managed to take charge of the Patriots, and lead New England to a 3-1 start without Brady. After Brady’s return the Patriots caught fire, winning 8 of their last 9 regular season games. They would be the 1-seed in the playoffs.

The Falcons were not quite as dominant in the regular season as the Patriots but earned the 2-seed in the playoffs. Their explosive offense led by quarterback Matt Ryan and star wide receiver Julio Jones gave every opposing defense nightmares. Once the playoffs rolled around, Atlanta was white-hot, and they overpowered two teams that have ruled the playoffs the past five years, taking out the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers. They were headed to their second Super Bowl in franchise history.

The Patriots, too, entered the playoffs on a winning streak, and the Houston Texans as well as the powerful Pittsburgh Steelers were no match for New England. The big game’s matchup was set. In the weeks that followed, every sports analyst and program was studying and hypothesizing whether or not Atlanta’s offense could lift them over the biggest threat in football. Brady and Belichick had been there before, and Atlanta had not. Whatever the outcome, it was sure to be one for the ages.

Two short years ago was the infamous investigation around a possible scandal in which Patriots’ QB Tom Brady had been accused of deflating footballs for an advantage. While under investigation, Brady and New England went on to win the Super Bowl after Russell Wilson famously decided to throw it from inside the 5-yard line. Many were upset that Brady was allowed to continue to play the remainder of the playoffs that season. Even though Brady was given no punishment the following year, his Pats did not return to the Super Bowl. Instead another historic QB, Denver’s Peyton Manning, hoisted the trophy up at the end of the season, and announced his retirement shortly thereafter. The punishment that Brady received before the next season began was controversial, but in the end, did little damage.

The game was crazy. Atlanta’s offense got them on the board, and their defense followed suit by extending the lead. It was supposed to be all over. They were up 28-3. Then, there was a turning point, not too noticeable, but Tom Brady began to find a rhythm, and suddenly Atlanta’s relenting offense appeared empty. History was made as the game headed to overtime, the first to do so in SB history. The Patriots won the toss, and asked to have control of the ball. New England drove the length of the field. James White heroically crossed the goal line. They had done it. Atlanta had a 28-3 lead, a lead too insurmountable for a team to overcome in a Super Bowl. Nonetheless, the last year in sports has had one clear message: expect the unexpected.