Super Bowl LI looked like it was going to be a dud as the Atlanta Falcons jumped out to a 28-3 late in the third quarter before the New England Patriots stormed back to win the first overtime game ever in the Super Bowl by a score of 34-28. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick became the first quarterback and coach to win five Super Bowls in NFL history. It was also the first comeback of more than 10 points in Super Bowl history and third biggest comeback ever in the playoffs. ESPN's Trent Dilfer called it the greatest game in NFL history during his postgame commentary. The Pats are the early favorites to win Super Bowl LII.
FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 22: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots throws a pass against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Here are the biggest winners and losers of the NFL's 51st Super Bowl.
Brady, 39, set a record for most passing yards in Super Bowl history with 466 passing yards, as well as most completions with 43. He likely sealed his claim as the NFL's greatest quarterback ever. He overcame multiple drops by his wide receivers and became the first five-time Super Bowl winner as a quarterback and the game's first four-time MVP. Brady’s playoff record is now 25-9. His 25 victories are 9 more than Joe Montana who ranks second.
The pre-game scuttlebutt around the pop princess focused on whether she would make a political statement during her halftime performance. She kicked off her performance with a few verses of “God Bless America” and “This Land is Your Land” before breaking into an array of hits, but never made any sort of anti-Trump or political statement.
Gaga was widely hailed for her performance and most felt she crushed it. Per usual, the NFL did not pay its halftime performer, but Gaga is still a big winner. She is expected to announce dates for her next world tour on Monday and her song catalog should see a big bump in downloads this week. Bruno Mars and Beyonce saw spikes of 92% and 59%, respectively, in music sales after their recent Super Bowl performances.
This game was setting up to be a disaster for Fox as the Falcons jumped out to a 25-point lead. The game had little buzz before Sunday as the Falcons have a limited national following and both teams played it close to the vest in the lead-up to the game. Ratings were ready to plummet before the Patriots began their epic comeback to send the game into overtime for the first time in Super Bowl history. Look for Super Bowl LI to deliver a big ratings number. It might not top the record average audience of 114.4 million from two years ago, but the Pats comeback delivered millions of viewers.
Belichick cemented his place as aruably the greatest coach in NFL history. He became the first head coach to win five Super Bowl titles and his 26-10 postseason record is the best for any coach with more than 10 playoff games on the sideline. His 26 playoff wins are six more than second-place Tom Landry.
Humor was lacking in this year's crop of ads as diversity and politically-tinged content was featured early on in the game. 84 Lumber got attention when its original ad was rejected by Fox for the controversial nature of the ad, which highlighted the hot-button immigration topic. The company ran an altered commercial during the game and had a six-minute version on its website, although the site crashed Sunday night.
Buick had one the best ads of the night featuring Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton in a pee wee football game. Supermodel Miranda Kerr appeared in the ad that was funny and cute. Audi, Tide and Bai with Justin Timberlake and Christopher Walken also got high marks for their commercials.
Who do you think the commissioner was rooting for during the Super Bowl? Goodell said; “It would be an honor” to hand the Lombardi Trophy to Brady and the Pats this week, but who was he kidding. The commissioner has made one public misstep after another in recent years and presenting the Lombardi Trophy on the dais to Robert Kraft is the latest public humiliation for the commissioner. The booing of Goodell during the trophy presentation was deafening. Goodell couldn’t pass the trophy off to Kraft fast enough as the commissioner ran off the stage.
The Falcons were in prime position to win their first Super Bowl in franchise history before the Pats dramatic comeback. The Falcons had the potential to be the night’s biggest winner because they open their new $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium next year. The Falcons are in the process of selling season tickets, personal seat licenses, luxury suites and sponsorships for the new stadium.
A Super Bowl win would have boosted demand and pricing power for the franchise. The Patriots followed a similar pattern when they opened a new stadium after the franchise’s first Super Bowl win after the 2001 season. The Pats have sold out Gillette Stadium every game since the stadium opened in 2002 on their way to becoming the NFL’s second most valuable team worth $3.4 billion.
Alas, the run to the Super Bowl should still help the Falcons in their new stadium, but a Super Bowl win would have been that much bigger. The Atlanta Braves 1995 World Series win remains the only major sports championship for the city of Atlanta.
Ryan entered the postseason last month with a reputation as a choke artist thanks to losses in four of his first five playoff games during his career. Ryan helped change the narrative this year with an MVP Award and two playoff wins to put the Falcons in the Super Bowl for only the second time in franchise history. Ryan was brilliant Sunday night with a passer rating of 144, fourth highest in Super Bowl history (perfect is 158), but he had a crucial late fumble and took a brutal sack when his team needed a field goal to seal the game.
Ryan is still likely to be a big winner when all is said and done. His big 2016 season prompted his general manager to say he wanted to extend Ryan's contract sooner rather than later. Ryan will sign one of the richest contracts in NFL history, but a Super Bowl win on the resume would look a lot better when sitting at the negotiating table.