By now everyone should know about what went down in Super Bowl LI. How the Pats stole Christmas, AKA the Patriot’s Christmas Miracle, was a game for the ages. A game that lost a lot of people money in Vegas. While I wish I could’ve thrown my few cents in the catastrophic cookie jar, this isn’t about wasted opportunities. No, this is about entertainment. This is about defeating all the odds. This is about a plot that had been brewing since Super Bowl XLIX and was brought full circle in the season finale on February 5th, 2017. This was an anime classic in the making.
No matter how you feel about the Patriots, you should be able to appreciate how good they usually are. Living in Miami, I personally have an extreme dislike for them because of the fact that the Dolphins are in the same conference; however, after the whole Deflategate fiasco in 2014-2015, my extreme dislike became a rather small dislike. Deflategate was a story arc that had the New England Patriots once again painted as the villain. They used footballs that were not deflated to the NFL regulatory standard to give themselves an advantage in a playoff game against the Colts. How much of an advantage can a deflated football give to a team? Who knows, but man were people pissed about it. The Patriots won the Super Bowl because of the Seattle Seahawks’ own story arc, so to many it was a hollow victory. We could say that was the end of the first half of the Super Bowl LI anime.
Enter the 2015-2016 NFL anime season. Nothing much happened. The Patriots lost to the Broncos, who were clearly the main characters that season, what with Peyton Manning planning on retiring and all that.
Now, in 2016-2017 the main storyline links back to Deflategate from 2 whole seasons ago. Tom Brady and the Patriots had been fighting the NFL so that Brady wouldn’t be suspended. Honestly, it wasn’t a good look for the NFL. When it was all said and done, Tom Brady was suspended for 4 games, leaving the Patriots without their Goku, without their Luffy, without their Tsuna Sawada. There were a lot of references that could have been made there, but I had to save the last one for a Katekyō Hitman Reborn! shoutout. Most other teams would write themselves off without their star player, especially if that star player is their quarterback. Imagine how different Eyeshield 21 would have turned out without Hiruma. Despite this, the Patriots went 3-1 without Brady, setting up for a great anime climax. Along the way to their 14-2 record, they lost more key players: most notably Rob Gronkowski. Still they persevered and stepped into the playoffs. They reached the Super Bowl with ease, as most main characters do before the final showdown.
Their opponents, the Atlanta Falcons, however had a storyline of their own. Quarterback Matt Ryan was always seen as a great quarterback that just couldn’t get it done. He wasn’t clutch. Julio Jones was quickly showing everyone that he should be on everyone’s top wide receiver list and the Falcons were getting a new stadium next season. All of this was being powered by an offense that had quickly become a well-oiled machine. Although the Patriots were still villains, they were clearly underdogs.
And so we come to The Big Game. Admittedly, the hype wasn’t as high as other Super Bowls at first. At least that’s how it felt. The game was pretty boring for a while until the Falcons scored, and then scored again…and again…and again. The Falcons were running all over the villains of the NFL. The Patriots couldn’t get anything going and by the end of the half it was 21-3. On the sidelines some of the Falcons players were starting to get a little cocky. Too cocky to be the heroes of the story? Not really, but it was still a little jarring. In the third quarter the Falcons score yet again, making the score 28-3. At this point my friends and I were playing the Cartoon Network version of Flux instead of paying attention to the game. Halfway through the third quarter, the Patriots scored making it 28-9 after a missed extra point. After a miserable onside kick attempt, it seemed like all was lost for the true main characters of the season. The Falcons went 3 and out and the Patriots had to settle for a field goal making it 28-12 with less than 10 minutes left in the game. If the Falcons could get a few first downs and keep possession of the ball, the Patriots would have virtually no chance.
On the next Falcons drive, the moment that would shift the Patriots from true villains to anti-heroes came to fruition. Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower sacked Matt Ryan, causing a fumble and the Patriots recovered with extremely good field position. Our game of Cartoon Network Flux was quickly put on halt and my dislike for the Patriots dissipated as I realized that the NFL had a sports anime happening right in everyone’s living room. The Patriots scored and completed the 2 point conversion to make the score 28-20 with about 6 minutes left in the game. The Falcons were imploding. After a sack and a penalty they had to punt the ball back to the Patriots with 3:30 left on the clock. Of course, our true main characters scored and scored another 2 point conversion to tie the game at 28-28 setting up for the only Super Bowl to go into overtime since before most of us were even old enough to watch football. The Patriots won the coin toss and took it straight down the field for the game winning touchdown to win the game 28-34. The villains who were the underdogs became anti-heroes in the greatest Super Bowl comeback in NFL history. From 28-3 to 28-34. The Patriots went against the NFL, the masses, and the Falcons all at once. Whether you watch football or not, watching this game culminate with the backstory that the Patriots have would make most anyone a fan for at least a few minutes. The comeback was anime level. The storyline was anime level. Even the halftime show was anime level. The Patriots proved that their Super Bowl in the shadow of Defategate was no fluke, and that they’ll take being villains and anti-heroes any day of the week.