The Super Bowl had been waiting for this storyline for more than half a century. The best team in football and the best QB in football rallying for a come-from-behind victory against the longest of odds.
Only three times in Super Bowl history has a team come back from a deficit of 10 points. The Redskins first did it against the Broncos in Super Bowl 22, when they overcame Denver’s 10-0 early lead to wallop Elway’s bunch 42-10. In Super Bowl 45, Peyton Manning and the Colts also raced to a 10-0 lead, before an onside kick, Drew Brees, and Tracy Porter brought New Orleans their first Super Bowl. And two years ago, the Patriots trailed 24-14 with under 8 minutes to go before two Brady TDs and Malcolm Butler’s INT gave the Patriots a 28-24 victory.
None of these compares to what happened in Houston on Sunday.
Early in the 4th quarter the Patriots win probability was 0.4%. That translates to a 1 in 2500 chance of winning the game. In other words, if they replayed the game 2,500 times from when it was 28-12 and Atlanta had 2nd and 2 with nine minutes left in the 4th quarter, the Falcons win 2,499 out of 2,500 times. Last night just happened to be the 1 out 2,500 occurrence.
Nothing like this had ever happened in the Super Bowl before. Football fans who know their history recall that for many years the Super Bowl was routinely a blowout. Between 1983 and 1997, the final score of the game was within 10 points just twice and the average margin of victory was 18 points. Over the course of 50 Super Bowls when a team took a lead of more than 10 points, they held on to win. Every. Single. Time.
Until Tom Brady and the Patriots came to Houston.
Joe Montana and the 49ers’ 92-yard touchdown drive to win Super Bowl 23 is often regarded as the best drive in Super Bowl history. Montana famously hit John Taylor for the game’s winning score with just 34 seconds remaining. Brady and Patriots ran the same kind of drive four times in the fourth quarter and overtime. Needing to be absolutely perfect, Brady and the Patriots were as they capitalised first on a short field after a turnover, then went a Montanaesque 91 yards for the tying scoring, and finally marched 75 yards for the winning one.
This script had never happened in Super Bowl history. Despite games with Starr, Unitas, Bradshaw, Staubach, Marino, Montana, Elway, Favre, P. Manning, E. Manning, Rodgers, and Aikman, no team and no QB had fought back on the biggest of stages to win sports most important game.
Not until Tom Brady and the New England Patriots did it. Like many accomplishments Brady, Belichick, and New England have had over the past 15 years it was a first.