By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Patriots haven’t always played perfect 60 minute games in the playoffs under Bill Belichick. But they almost always play all the way to the end of the 60 minutes. That mentality is essential for you to even believe you’re capable of coming back from down 28-3 in the Super Bowl.
For about 43 minutes of Super Bowl LI against the Falcons, it looked like we would spend the following offseason talking about the failures of Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, who threw a pick-six to cornerback Robert Alford in the first half. But once the Pats made it 28-9 on a James White touchdown, that’s when the game finally turned in their favor.
This historic 25-point comeback, which will always be one of the most unbelievable achievements in the history of the NFL, can mostly be credited to the efforts of the players on the field. Brady and White became downright unstoppable, linebacker Dont’a Hightower planted the first real seed of doubt with a strip-sack of Matt Ryan, and Julian Edelman made what will go down as one of the most iconic catches in Super Bowl history.
Belichichk’s impact on the game, however, showed up late in the fourth quarter. At least, his clear superiority to Falcons head coach Dan Quinn and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. After Julio Jones’ would-be game-sealing catch set the Falcons up at the Patriots’ 23-yard line, the Falcons decided to keep throwing the ball.
Second down results in a Trey Flowers sack. Third down results in a holding penalty. And thanks to those play-calls, instead of bleeding the clock and picking up a field goal to put the game out of reach, the Falcons had to punt it back to the Pats. And basically pray.
The prayers were answered … for New England.
The impact of the coaching staff also showed up in the Patriots’ two successful two-point attempts as part of the comeback. It’s incredible to think that, despite all the big plays they made in the fourth quarter, without even one of those two-point attempts succeeding it’s all for naught.
It showed that Belichick had the team prepared to have to convert multiple two-pointers, after they failed on it at the end of a 2015 AFC Championship Game loss in Denver.
Of course, this particular Super Bowl will always be remembered for Brady, Edelman and White leading the comeback and Hightower flipping momentum with his strip-sack. But Belichick put his own stamp on the comeback with simple preparation and the team’s sound situational football in crunch time.
Listen below for calls from the game by Bob Socci and Scott Zolak, as well as some of Belichick’s postgame remarks following the unforgettable comeback win.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.