Super Bowl 51

Incredible game last night. I wanted the Patriots to win, and boy was I surprised when they did. After the Patriots scored their first touchdown late in the third quarter and then failed on their extra point attempt, I wrote them off as a loser for the night. Tom Brady and the team hung together: record Super Bowl passing yards, a comeback from a record deficit scoring 31 unanswered points, first Super Bowl overtime. As a very casual NFL fan, it’s fun to see the Patriots secure their place as one of America’s great football dynasties.

Les Carpenter writes:

Before the Super Bowl winning drive Tom Brady stood on the Houston stadium’s field and said to his team-mates: “Let’s go.” And later, after the New England Patriots had won on the game’s final play and confetti tumbled over them their right tackle gushed: “He thrives on those moments.”

That was 13 years ago, on the night the Patriots won their second Super Bowl,which came in the same stadium, in a similar high-scoring game, won at the end by the Patriots on a drive led by Brady, who would be named MVP. Back then Brady was the 26-year-old quarterback who had won two titles in three years but wasn’t judged as the greatest at his position that the game had seen. That legacy would take more winning, more touchdowns and ultimately three more championships.

Now that he has won five Super Bowls, the most remarkable thing is how time has failed to take its toll on Brady. No quarterback at 39 makes storming through the final minutes of the Super Bowl look as easy as he did at 26. No quarterback has been as remarkably-consistent and dominant for two decades while players swirl in and out of the league around him.

A few days ago, Damon Huard – Brady’s backup on those first two championship teams – talked about returning to New England last fall for a celebration of that initial 2002 Super Bowl win and realizing that all but one of those Patriots had long retired. It was a jarring sensation for Huard, watching Brady that afternoon while assessing his own full post-football life.

“It’s just so hard in this job and profession to win,” Huard told the Guardian. “How they are still doing it is amazing. I was looking out there and I said to myself: ‘That’s No12 out there and it’s still [coach] Bill [Belichick] in the hoodie and they still have the drive and work ethic to make this happen.” …

But the 39-year-old Brady was not the carefree 26-year-old Brady. He fell to his knees after Sunday’s championship in a rare public expression of sensitivity. He talked around rumors that his mother has been seriously ill. He even struggled to remember what had happened in the game’s frantic last minutes, admitting: “There was a lot of shit that happened.”

Thirteen years after he took the Patriots to a championship on the same field, he became the only quarterback to win five Super Bowls. He also became the first to win four Super Bowl MVP awards. He gets older and nothing changes. He keeps winning. New England keeps winning.

It’s as if this all can go on forever.