At the end of the first half of Super Bowl LI, Jack Lee ’20 grew excited at the Atlanta Falcons’ 21-3 lead. That excitement, however, quickly turned to despair as the New England Patriots, led by quarterback and five-time Super Bowl Champion Tom Brady, mounted a second-half comeback to push the game to overtime and eventually take home the victory.
“I was very excited the first half, [but for] the second half I was completely depressed. I was yelling and getting really angry in the dorm and then at the end, I just went back to my room and sulked,” said Lee.
Facing an eight-point deficit with 2:28 left of the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LI, Brady threw a laser pass down the middle of the field intended for wide receiver Julian Edelman.
Disaster loomed heavy as Atlanta Falcons cornerback Robert Alford, who had been having a stellar game, got his fingers on the ball, managing to tip it and alter its path.
Edelman, however, pulled off a miracle catch, the defining play of the Patriots’ 25-point second-half comeback effort.
This play would eventually lead touchdowns from Patriots running back James White and a two-point conversion from wide receiver Danny Amendola, tying the game at 28-28.
For the first time in NFL history, a Super Bowl game went into overtime. The Patriots would go on to dominate the sudden-death overtime period, winning the coin toss and scoring a touchdown on their first drive to win the game. Atlanta never held possession in the overtime period, while the New England Patriots became the 2017 NFL Champions.
The events of Super Bowl LI were attributed to be the “greatest comeback in Super Bowl history,” according to CNN. Edelman’s defining moment during the game was named “one of the greatest catches in Super Bowl history,” according to “The New York Times.”
Andover alumni Bill Belichick ’71 and Ernie Adams ’71 played crucial roles in leading the Patriots to their historic victory.
Longtime friends, Belichick is the head coach of the Patriots, widely considered one of the great coaches of the NFL today, while Adams is the Patriots’ research director. They are at the helm of a Patriots franchise that is considered by many to be the model NFL franchise of today.
Brady was also named the Super Bowl MVP and won his fifth career Super Bowl championship ring.
Belichick and the Patriots’ historic victory had a massive impact on fans in the New England area, including Andover campus. “I never gave up on the Pats. being a New Englander myself, I’d say it was honestly just surreal as a whole. even though I saw it all unfold in front of me, I didn’t even grasp what had happened until the next day because the Falcons had a 99.6 percent chance of winning and I never gave up on Tom and Bill. Bill being an Andover grad, obviously he has the brains and the Patriots have faced adversity before and I’ve stayed loyal and never gave up,” said Alex Apgar ’17.
Rachna Lewis ’19 said, “I was blown away… we really had a slow start, a really slow start, so I was kind of losing faith a little bit, not going to lie, but I don’t know. It was just unbelievable kind of just watching us get back in it and we won, and that’s all that matters.”