Another year; another Super Bowl. The grandiose event that showcases the American love for spectacle. Arguably, the biggest sporting event in the U.S., if not the biggest annual TV event, took place on Sunday February 5.
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Held at the NRG stadium in Houston, Texas, Super Bowl LI pitched the New England Patriots with the distinguished Tom Brady-Bill Belichick partnership and the NFL’s best defence. Versus their opponents the Atlanta Falcons: led by the league MVP, Matt Ryan, superstar Wide-Receiver, Julio Jones, and the league’s best offence. The matchup was hyped to be high-scoring with an array of attacking talent on display, but it was still expected to remain close. Indeed, the pre-match rendition of “America the Beautiful” by members of the Hamilton cast showed this was going to be a Super Bowl to remember when they tweaked the words to include ‘sisterhood’.
The first half didn’t match up to the pre-game expectations as the Falcons outplayed the Patriots in all departments. Adding to the disappointment of the anticlimactic score line (21-3 at half time) was the turnout at JCs bar on Singleton Campus. Despite efforts to Americanise the bar, the lack of student presence only made for a disappointing atmosphere, unlike previous years before. One potential reason for this could be the lack of advertising around the campus for the event.
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The disappointment of the first-half dissipated as attention turned to Lady Gaga’s halftime show. Gaga’s presence at the event added to the anticipation surrounding the game. She did not disappoint. Her act began with an expected, yet implicit political statement. Her brief rendition of Woody Guthrie’s civil rights anthem “This Land is Your Land” articulated themes of acceptance, justice and liberty — no doubt a reference to the current political climate in America. In recent years, the occasion has become a stage for social comment for musicians due to the vast audiences it attracts, however Gaga did not make this a centre piece. Instead, her performance had a mix of classic songs, new material and elaborate costume and stage design.
The second-half began with Atlanta continuing where they had left off – extending their lead to 28-3. The Patriots scored their first touchdown with two minutes left in the third. A field goal and two, eight-point touchdowns later, the Patriots had overturned a twenty-five-point deficit to tie the game. Two key moments made this possible. First, Patriots Linebacker Dont’a Hightower’s sack fumble of Matt Ryan gave the ball back to the Patriots Offence at a crucial moment. Second, Patriots Wide-Receiver Julian Edelman made an absurd catch with the ball inches from the floor, having rebounded off a Falcons Defensive player. These two moments continued New England’s offensive momentum, which meant the Super Bowl went into overtime for the first time in its history. New England won the toss, elected to receive the ball, which allowed Tom Brady to drive them to an unlikely victory. Final score: 34-28.
This victory gave Tom Brady his fifth Super Bowl win, which, for many, makes him the greatest player in NFL history. He threw for a record 466-yards, however, despite Brady’s excellence, Atlanta choked. They are responsible for allowing the Patriots back into the game through poor coaching decisions and time management.
Fortunately for us, Atlanta’s failings led to the greatest Super Bowl ever. Looking to next year, how will the Falcons recover? Will the Patriots win it back-to-back? Or will Aaron Rodgers finally get to another Super Bowl and reopen the debate on the greatest NFL quarterback?
By Sam Tremlett[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]