Take that, Roger Goodell. In a season that began with a controversial four-game suspension for their acknowledged leader, Tom Brady, the New England Patriots tuned out the distractions and the enmity to once again do their job better than anyone else. They went 14-2 for the league's best record, then produced a dramatic playoff run that culminated in their fifth world title and a Lombardi Trophy photo op with their archenemy. The Patriots found new heroes - like Chris Hogan and Martellus Bennett - and leaned on old reliables to overcome a controversy that created headlines around the world. Love them or hate them, future Hall of Fame coach Bill Belichick's Patriots - led by future Hall of Fame quarterback Brady - truly rank among the greatest franchises ever.
In The Boston Globe's Roger That!: With Fifth Super Bowl Win, Brady and Belichick's Patriots Show Who's Boss, Pats fans can revel in their team's latest historic achievement, as well as relive every moment of the 2016 season and playoffs, from opening kickoff to the hoisting of the Vince Lombardi Trophy. With its vibrant color photographs, essential statistics, memorable quotes, and acclaimed commentary by some of the nation's best sportswriters, this is the ultimate New England Patriots keepsake.
Roger That! takes you inside the legacy and behind the scenes on an all-access pass, providing commentary and insights on Belichick, Brady, mastermind assistant coaches Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia, as well as other key contributors on and off the field. And it fully commemorates what Patriots Nation has known for most of the 21st century: This is a team of champions, and these champions are a team for the ages.
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The Boston Globe was founded in 1872 and is the recipient of 23 Pulitzer Prizes. It is based in Boston.
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By Ron Driscoll
Triumph Books LLCCopyright © 2017 The Boston Globe
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Super Bowl LI
By Dan Shaughnessy / Globe Staff
It will take weeks, months, maybe years to fully absorb this one, but given all the layers of drama, emotion, and improbability, the Patriots' 34-28 overtime Super Bowl victory over the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI might very well be the greatest moment in Boston sports history. And that, folks, is saying something.
Super Bowl LI at massive NRG Stadium was supposed to be all about revenge and a Roger Goodell trophy moment, but it wound up being the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history and a victory against which all others — in every sport — will forever be measured.
"Thanks to all our fans," said Tom Brady, while he held the Lombardi Trophy. "You've been with us all year and we're going to bring this sucker home!"
The Patriots fell behind the Falcons, 21-0, in the first half. They trailed, 28-3, with less than three minutes to play in the third quarter. Forget about revenge for Deflategate penalties, it looked as if the Patriots were going to be embarrassed. And then, they scored 31 unanswered points in less than two full quarters.
We can officially retire all arguments about Greatest Of All Time. Brady is the greatest quarterback. And Bill Belichick is the greatest coach. They are the first pair to win five Super Bowls. And no one will ever forget how they got this latest one.
Playing in silent fury following his September suspension, but inspired by the presence of his ill mother, who hadn't seen him play all season, Brady threw for 466 yards and led a 91-yard, game-tying touchdown drive at the end of regulation. He was named Super Bowl MVP for a record fourth time.
Belichick, meanwhile, repeatedly outsmarted the Atlanta coaching staff. He Did His Job. The Hoodie made the other guys panic. And he made some history along the way.
The victory was clinched at 10:25 p.m. EST when third-year running back James White slashed through, and bounced off, a pack of helpless Falcons defenders to finish off a 75-yard, four-minute'touchdown drive in overtime. The poor, pitiful Falcons never touched the ball in the extra session. It's always a mistake to lose the coin toss to the Patriots.
Goodell could hardly be heard over the boos while he presented the trophy to Patriots owner Robert Kraft. The Commish handed over the Lombardi, shook hands with Kraft, then bolted. He shook hands with Brady on the confetti-littered stadium lawn.
"Two years ago when we won in Arizona, I told our fans that was the sweetest one of all," said Kraft. "But a lot has transpired. I want to say to our fans and our brilliant coaching staff, this is unequivocally the sweetest, and I'm proud to say for the fifth time we are all Patriots, and tonight for the fifth time, the Patriots are world champions."
"It's all about these players," added Belichick. "They're tough and they compete."
The Falcons were supposed to be mere speed bumps on the Patriots' road to immortality, but they turned out to be just plain speedy. Atlanta forced a couple of Patriot turnovers in the second quarter and capitalized with three touchdowns to take what should have been an insurmountable lead.
"It was hard to imagine us winning it at that point," admitted Brady. "When we got the ball in the second half, it was tough to slow us down."
The first quarter was somewhat shocking. Nobody scored, with each team punting twice. Then came two Patriots turnovers and three second-quarter Falcons touchdowns.
The third of Atlanta's three quick scores came when Brady was picked off by Robert Alford, who dashed a breathtaking 82 yards into the other end zone. Brady was the last man who had a chance to tackle the Falcons cornerback, and it was not a pretty sight. It was the first pick-six of Brady's illustrious postseason career.
The Patriots managed only a 41-yard field goal in the final seconds of the first half, and it got worse for New England in the third quarter. The Patriots had to punt on their first series, and Ryan took over, hitting Tevin Coleman for a 6-yard touchdown pass to make it 28-3 with 8:31 left in the third.
"I wasn't thinking much," said Brady. "I was just thinking we had to score."
Belichick emptied his bag of tricks the rest of the way. On their first touchdown TD drive late in the third quarter, the Patriots went for it on fourth and 3 from near midfield and converted. Brady later saved the series with a 15-yard scramble. A 5-yard TD pass to White cut the margin to 28-9 with 2:06 left in the third. When Stephen Gostkowski missed the extra point, it really felt like this might not be New England's night.
After a Patriots field goal cut the margin to 28-12, Dont'a Hightower forced a Ryan fumble and the Patriots took over on the Atlanta 25-yard line. It was still a two-score game. Seconds later, Brady hit Danny Amendola (6 yards) in the end zone to make it 28-18. Two-point conversions were critical, and the Patriots got the first one they needed on a direct snap to White to make it 28-20 with 5:56 left.
You could feel the Falcons panicking. They advanced the ball to the New England 22 and could have sealed the game with a chip-shot field goal but moved backward on a sack and a penalty and wound up punting.
This was New England's last stand. And Brady made it count. He moved his team 91 yards in 10 plays. White's 1-yard TD run cut it to 28-26, and then came a 2-point conversion pass to Danny Amendola.
In overtime, the Patriots called heads — as they always do — and the coin came up heads. Sudden death. The Falcons never had a chance. They still don't know what hit them, but New England fans recognized it. It was the 10th championship for a Boston sports team since the Patriots broke a 15-year city drought with their first title in 2002, and possibly the sweetest.
By the Numbers
6 - Points, the margin of victory for the Patriots, the largest in any of their five Super Bowl wins.
93 - The number of teams in NFL playoff history who held a 19-point lead in the final quarter before Super Bowl LI. All of them won.
5 - Tom Brady joins Bart Starr (3 NFL titles, 2 Super Bowls) as the only two QBs with five championships.
8 - Matt Ryan became the eighth consecutive NFL MVP who has played in the Super Bowl to lose, joining, among others, Cam Newton (2015), Tom Brady (2007), and Kurt Warner (2001).
3 - James White caught a Super Bowl- record 14 passes and became the first player since Terrell Davis in 1998 to score three touchdowns in the Super Bowl.
7 - Tom Brady has a record seven fourth- quarter comebacks in the playoffs.
0 - The Patriots have 0 first-quarter points in seven Super Bowls with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.
5 - Bill Belichick's five NFL titles are one behind Curly Lambeau and George Halas, who won six titles each.
flip the script
Ben Volin Globe Staff
Tom Brady compiled The Drive. Julian Edelman made The Catch.
And the Patriots have The Hill to thank for their victory over the Falcons.
The hill sits on the back of the Patriots' practice field at Gillette Stadium, and Bill Belichick makes the players run it every day at the end of practice.
"We all bitch and complain about it," receiver Julian Edelman said. "But hey, we did it, we put in the work, we put in the conditioning."
The Patriots ran the Falcons ragged all game, and it paid off in a wild fourth quarter and overtime. Trailing, 28-20, with 3:30 on the clock, Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady led the Patriots 91 yards for the game-tying touchdown, then marched the offense 75 yards down the field in overtime to pull for the win.
"I think for sure we ran out of gas some," Falcons coach Dan Quinn said.
The Patriots didn't, even after running 93 plays, gaining 546 yards, and holding the ball for 40:31. They rose to the occasion, pulling off the most improbable and largest comeback victory in Super Bowl history.
"We all brought each other back. We never felt out of it," Brady said.
Brady threw for a Super Bowl-record 466 yards in being named the game's MVP, and once again, he was at his best in the game's most crucial moments, leading the Patriots to three touchdowns and a field goal on their last four possessions.
James White set a Super Bowl record with 14 receptions, and caught 4 of 5 passes on the tying and winning drives for 23 yards, capping both drives with rushing scores.
"We just kept going to him," Brady said, "so I think that speaks for itself."
The tying drive didn't begin well. Brady twice threw incomplete before hitting Chris Hogan for 16 yards, and two plays later found Malcolm Mitchell for 11 yards.
Then came The Catch.
"I don't know how he caught it," said Brady. "I don't think he does, either."
The Patriots have seen it three times before — all against them. David Tyree's miracle catch in Super Bowl 42. Mario Manningham's toe-tapping wonder in Super Bowl 47. Jermaine Kearse's circus catch in Super Bowl 49.
This time, it was Edelman's turn. Coming from the right slot, Edelman beat Falcons cornerback Robert Alford on a deep post over the middle. But Alford was able to bat the ball in the air, and Edelman converged on it with three Falcon defenders. Edelman fought to get his hands under the ball, then bobbled it. Then he got his hands under it again, millimeters before it hit the ground.
The officials signaled a 23-yard catch to the Falcons' 41.
"It was kind of a 'flip the script' there, know what I mean?" offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said.
Quinn immediately challenged the play. "Clearly it was a catch," Quinn said later. "But at the time I thought it was worth the challenge."
The initial ruling was confirmed, and from that point, there was no stopping Brady.
"To come back from 25 points, it's hard to imagine us winning," Brady said. "A lot of mental toughness by our team. And we're all going to remember this for the rest of our lives."CHAPTER 2
by Christopher L. Gasper / Globe Staff
From NFL house arrest to unwanted NFL house guest in Houston at Super Bowl LI, it's another "only Tom Brady" storybook tale.
Deflategate will go down as just another obstacle the quarterback had to overcome in the remarkable career he has carved out as the consummate winner. A four-game suspension designed by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to hamper Brady's pursuit of another championship merely inspired it.
"Nah, this is my motivation right here, all these fellas in front of me," Brady said on the AFC Championship presentation stage at Gillette Stadium, disguising his real emotions far better than the Pittsburgh Steelers disguised their coverages.
We finally saw what happens when the Patriots face a legitimate AFC contender with a franchise quarterback. It's the same thing that happened to the list of unworthy and quarterback-questionable teams they mostly played over the second half of the season — they lose in resounding fashion. The AFC Championship game against the Steelers was less a competition and more a ritualistic sacrifice that sent Brady and Coach Bill Belichick to their seventh Super Bowl together.
There can be no more questioning the Patriots' eminence. The level of competition doesn't matter because Brady is on another level and the New England defense proved its stinginess was on the level in a 36-17 victory.
The last time the AFC title game was held in Foxborough, back in 2015 against the Indianapolis Colts, the odious air pressure imbroglio known as Deflategate was spawned after a Brady pass was intercepted by D'Qwell Jackson. The Colts stuck a gauge in the ball, opening a Pandora's Box for the NFL.
The only thing that was deflated on this night was Pittsburgh's defense, which would have been better off had it used the Lord's Prayer as its game plan. This rematch was a complete mismatch.
The idea that the Steelers can stop Brady falls in the category of alternative facts. Bouncing back from the lowest postseason completion percentage of his career against Houston, Brady torched the Sons of the Steel Curtain, going 32 of 42 for 384 yards and three touchdowns. In seven games against the Mike Tomlin-coached Steelers, Brady has passed for 2,273 yards and 22 touchdowns with zero interceptions.
Playing in his record 11th AFC title game, Brady played the Steelers like a Stradivarius. He knew exactly what coverage they were in and exactly how to defeat it; it showed as he tied his idol Joe Montana for the most postseason games with three or more touchdowns passes (nine). He also extended his NFL record for 300-yard playoff performances to 11.
Unless you're Seattle or Denver, if you just do what you do against Brady you are doomed, especially if it's predictable zone coverages and blitzes.
"You know they did what they did," said wide receiver Julian Edelman, who had eight catches for 118 yards and a score. "And we were just able to execute today. They're a tough team. We made plays, and we have respect for their franchise. We won't get into that whole thing. They fought hard."
Pittsburgh defensive end Stephon Tuitt was a bit less diplomatic. "Yeah, he ripped us apart," said Tuitt. "We're going to watch the film and see what happened. We didn't get there and he picked us apart."
Brady was 6 of 6 for 66 yards on the Patriots' first TD drive. His last pass was a 16-yarder to a wide-open Chris Hogan in the back of the end zone on a play where the Steelers brought their inside linebackers while dropping their best pass rusher, Bud Dupree, into coverage. The result was Brady had time to post to his new Instagram account from the pocket before finding Hogan to put the Patriots up, 10-0, in the first quarter.
At that point, Brady was 10 of 12 for 128 yards and a touchdown. The two incompletions were a Malcolm Mitchell drop and an attempted wide receiver screen play where the snap appeared to be out of synch.
Brady just played games with the Pittsburgh defense. On the first touchdown drive, the Patriots lined up in a heavier set with fullback James Develin and running back LeGarrette Blount in the backfield and one tight end. The Steelers brought a safety down. Then Brady motioned everyone out into an empty set and hit a wide-open Hogan for a 26-yard gain.
New England's second touchdown came via a flea-flicker. Brady took the ball back from Dion Lewis and lofted a 34-yard pass to Hogan for a 17-6 lead. Brady had his choice of intended TD targets on the play.
Sensing a theme here? The Patriots receivers were often unaccompanied. Hogan finished with nine catches for 180 yards and two scores.
There might have been some Patriots fans who were a bit anxious with New England up, 17-9, at the half, but it felt like it was all under control in Foxborough with TB12 reading the Steelers' minds.
Two plays after Brady called out the Steelers' blitz, calmly slid to his right, and hit Hogan for a 39-yard gain, Blount plunged in from the 1 to make it 27-9 with 2:44 left in third quarter. Checking airfare to Houston was allowable.
"He's the best quarterback to ever play the game," said Blount.
The Steelers fumbled on the ensuing drive and Brady drove the stake through the Steelers' hearts, connecting with Edelman for a 10-yard TD on third and goal to make it 33-9. AFC Championship game over, Big Game on.
By the Numbers
9 - The Patriots advanced to their ninth Super Bowl, breaking a four-way tie at 8 with the Cowboys, Steelers, and Broncos.
20–4 - The Patriots' home playoff record after beating Pittsburgh (16-3 at Gillette Stadium).
11 - Conference Championship games played by Tom Brady, the most all-time. Gene Upshaw and George Blanda played in 10.
180 - Receiving yards for Chris Hogan, most in team playoff history, eclipsing Deion Branch (153 yards vs. Denver, 2006).
Is There Such a Thing As Too Much Winning?
MARK ARSENAULT Globe Staff (with Cristela Guerra and Travis Andersen contributing)
These winter weeks can be the darkest of the year. The holidays are behind us, but for the bills. The sky is often the color of a dirty sheet. Sports fans know pitchers and catchers won't report until Valentine's Day or so, and the Celtics and Bruins are grinding through the middle of their schedules, the playoffs as distant as beach-worthy weather.
Yet for the seventh time in the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady era, New England's NFL team found itself playing into February this year, capturing its fifth Super Bowl win in the new millennium.
To appease the forces of karma it seems wise to occasionally note how fortunate we are. How much we appreciate this charmed era of Boston sports fandom, with 10 championship trophies to our name since 2000. How we would never take it for granted.
But do we?
When candidate Donald Trump said, "We're going to win so much, you're going to be so sick and tired of winning" ... could he have been talking about us?
"I think the early victories had a larger emotional pop because they were unique and novel," said Adam H. Naylor, a Boston University professor of sports psychology, speaking of the Patriots' first Super Bowl win after the 2001 season and the curse-busting 2004 World Series.
Now, "it's not the same ... because it's what is supposed to happen," he said, referring to all the winning that goes on around here. "All of our kids know what it's like to win. I think the historians of the sports don't take it for granted, but we've been on such a run," Naylor said.
Excerpted from Roger That! by Ron Driscoll. Copyright © 2017 The Boston Globe. Excerpted by permission of Triumph Books LLC.
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Table of Contents
Super Bowl LI,
Facts and Figures,
New England Patriots 2016,
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I got this as a gift for my mother, who loves the Pats even more than I do. Perfect gift and a great compilation from an awesome season.