Super Bowl LI: Patriots Stun Falcons

Jesse Sindelar, Staff Reporter

The whole of the game between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons this past Sunday for Super Bowl LI lasted a little over four hours, yet the ball was only in play for a grand total of 16 minutes. Those 16 minutes, however, contained one of the greatest football games in the history of the sport.

At the start of the third quarter, the Falcons were in the lead 21-3. They increased that lead to 28-3 after seven minutes. At the time, the biggest Super Bowl comeback had been 10 points. Through the next 23 minutes of game time the Patriots, led by quarterback Tom Brady, had one of the greatest comebacks in sports history. The Pats scored 25 unanswered points, including two 2-point conversions, in the last five minutes to send it to overtime. They won 34-28.

While the game itself was tantalizing to watch, a lavish halftime show with a famous name and a catalogue of somewhat “higher quality” advertisements have made this football game into a spectacle, with masses of people tuning in.

Students watch the game together in a residence space. Photo contributed by Antonio Tharp.

The game itself garnered a viewing audience of 112 million, in addition to the 70,000 fans in NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. Regardless of any affiliation with the teams involved or an appreciation for the game of football, the Whitman community joined in on the historic game.

Izzy Dunn, a sophomore from Massachusetts, only caught a part of the fourth quarter by chance, passing through Reid Campus Center while New England was still down by plenty. Although she is not a big sports fan, the Patriots had to have Dunn’s support as a Massachusetts native.

“I remember thinking that if [the Pats] won, that Tom Brady would be the best quarterback in history, at least according to my brother,” she said.

However, Dunn’s moral and political standing dampened her support of her home side.

“I was definitely rooting for the Patriots … only because they are my home team, because I have a lot of issues with some members of the team supporting Donald Trump.”

Regardless of political affiliations, Tom Brady made a great case for being the best quarterback in history, and broke more than a few records along the way. “Touchdown Tom” won his record-breaking fifth Super Bowl and fourth Super Bowl MVP by breaking Bowl records for completions and passing yards.

However, with Tom Brady and the Patriots coach Bill Belichick being the winningest coach-quarterback combo in history, it is safe to assume that they have their fair share of haters. But for the die-hard Pats fans, that made the comeback so much sweeter.

“It’s really impossible to describe how great the feeling of that comeback was, and I was just sitting on a couch surrounded by people who love to hate the Patriots,” said Mike Dunne, a sophomore Bostonian and fervent Patriots fan.

Professors were also in on the action too. Stacy Edmondson, a professor for the math department at Whitman, is a pronounced football fan, although her team, the Chicago Bears, did not make the playoffs for the Super Bowl. While her motivations were to watch a good football game, especially from a dominating team like the Patriots, she was aware that not everyone had the same reasons.

“While the game itself is as good of a reason as any to watch, I think a lot of people tune in for the halftime show, the commercials, but also simply to hang out with friends,” Edmondson said.

Henry Phillips, senior, passive Falcons fan and appreciator of the game, echoed these sentiments.

“What I like most about [watching] professional sports is when players make big plays, you are just in awe that a human could do something like that. But I felt like some people I watched [the game] with watched it because they felt like they had to, like it was a cultural event,” he said.

The Super Bowl has a little something for everyone. Funny commercials, a live concert and a high-stakes football game. While the pertinence of all the fanfare can be debated, the Super Bowl’s ability to pull half of the country to their television screens for four hours cannot. Whether it is college kids using it as an excuse to throw a party or an Atlanta neighborhood having a watching event turned sour, the relevance of this simple game of football to the Whitman community and the country does not appear to be dying down anytime soon.