By Paul Meadors | Sports Editor
Tom Brady: Lord of the Rings
It was a script even Hollywood couldn’t write.
Wherever you sat or stood or reclined as your eyes were glued to your HD screen before the Patriots rallied from the biggest deficit in Super Bowl history, you might have thought to yourself there’s no way the Falcons can lose. Or perhaps in between trips to load your plate with more wings and and guacamole dip you thought: there’s no chance on God’s green Earth the Patriots can come back from this!
Down 28-3 with 8:31 left in the third quarter? Come on. At that point ESPN said Atlanta had a 99.8% chance to win the game.
However, there was a little tingle in the back of your mind wasn’t there? That feeling, whether you were rooting for or against the Patriots, was sparked because A) they’re the Patriots and B) they have Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick on their side. Yep, those guys.
What we witnessed was nothing short of remarkable, a comeback so improbable that we’ll be shaking our heads in awe and disbelief for years to come. And after James White rushed for the Super Bowl winning touchdown in overtime, we can commonly agree that we watched the greatest football game ever played.
The Patriots scored 31 unanswered points after halftime. Let that sink in for a while.
We can point to so many big-time plays – a combination of Atlanta puckering and New England rising up. It’s been said many times over that great players make great plays; so how about the strip sack by linebacker Dont’a Hightower that thwarted an Atlanta drive and led to a Danny Amendola touchdown catch, two must-have two-point conversions in the fourth quarter, fantastic kick-off coverage, and a game-tying 91-yard drive by Brand & Co?
There were talks that Brady could cement his legacy as the GOAT (Greatest of All Time) if he could win his fifth ring. His place in infamy over the likes of Joe Montana, Brett Favre, Johnny Unitas, John Elway and Peyton Manning is now complete. Done. Discussion over. Brady is the best, whether you like it or not.
The Patriots were down 21-0 until they kicked a field goal to end the first half.
At age 39, Brady competed 43-62 passes for 466 yards, 196 of those in the fourth quarter, earning MVP honors for a fourth time. He made clutch throws, the Patriot receivers ran sharp routes and caught everything in sight. That catch by Edelman, the come-on-there’s-no-way-he-caught-that-rewind-it-OMG-he-did-catch-it play with 2:21 left? Maybe that was football karma, the yin and the yang, for the David Tyree catch in Super Bowl 42 when the Giants upset the Patriots, ending their chance at football perfection. If you believe in that sort of thing.
The supreme confidence by the Patriots was so clearly evident throughout the comeback; there was no panic, it was almost as if they were just biding their time before their epic comeback. In short, we all kinda knew they would win once they got the ball down 8 points.
Two hours after the game as I type this, my head’s still spinning, I feel emotionally spent, and I’m no Patriot gusher, believe me. My beloved friends, who I watch the Super Bowl with every year, were decidedly rooting against the Patriots as I’m sure 83% of the country was. But oh man, what an exciting game.
A lasting image was when a teary-eyed Brady at the post-game podium, clutching the Vince Lombardi Trophy screaming with confetti flying everywhere, “We are bringing this sucker home!”
For a fifth time. Yep, that happened.
Kings beat Warriors? Kings beat Warriors
The Golden State Warriors are still the talk of the NBA, as they have been the past two years, the cream of the crop in the NBA’s Western Conference with a fine 43-7 record this season. On the other hand, just 82 miles away, are the Sacramento Kings, a franchise that just can’t seem to figure out an identity, are reeling in another season of futility and sporting an uninspiring 19-31 record. The Warriors, reaching the Finals the past two years and winning one in 2015, had a date at the newly christened Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, Feb. 4. This game had all the markings of another Blowout City by the Warriors.
The Warriors and the Kings; two ships passing each other and going in opposite directions.
But something funny happened in the arena that night; the Kings showed up and played some inspired basketball, winning 109-106. If you’re a Warriors fan you claim your team played its worst game of the season, capped off when Steph Curry missed a wide-open layup off an inbounds play that would have tied the game with 4.9 seconds left. And Kevin Durant, the Warriors big splash in the off-season, forming a supergroup currently unmatched in the NBA, had probably his worst game of the season in scoring only 10 points on 2-10 shooting, both makes coming on dunks.
Just a few days before their inspired win an in-depth article by ESPN the Magazine titled “The Madness of the Kings” chronicles the Kings disfunction (they haven’t been to the playoffs since 2006) by asking the question: Is DeMarcus Cousins or the Sacramento Kings the real problem? The article speaks of an enabling franchise pandering to their superstar and his trivial profanity-ladened tirades, his lack of practice habits, his overall disdain for referees and his “they’re out to get me” attitude. The article also points to the head-scratching antics of owner Vivek Ranadivé, a multi-millionaire who once toyed with the idea of having the Kings play defense with only four players, with the fifth cherry picking for layups. True story.
On paper, this game had all the makings of another blowout. The Warriors had beaten the Kings 13 consecutive games. Cousins responding with an eye-popping stat line: 32 points, 12 rebounds and 9 assists, showing what he is capable of performing.
Curry still electrified the crowd with 35 points and nine assists while fellow Splash Brother Klay Thompson added 26 points.
Now, don’t worry, I’m not getting ahead of myself by any notion with this single win – the Kings are just as likely to lose to the 19-31 New Orleans Pelicans (you knew they were called the Pelican right?) at home on Feb 12. But I’d also like to point out they beat the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers at their place on Jan 25. A true Jekyll and Hyde team.
Then there are the rumors flying around that the Kings might pony up a 200 million dollar contract for Cousins. Holy cannoli that’s a lot of cheddar. If this happens I would predict the Kings would never recover from such a decision. Again, remember they have not been to the playoffs since 2006 (ousted in the first round), and Cousins has been in town for the past 7 years since his one year in college at Kentucky. The Kings must be thinking “Hey, how many 6-foot-11, 270 pound players out there can average 28 points, 10.6 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game?”
Not many, that’s for sure. But the 200 million dollar question still burns: is Cousins worth the risk?
What a year for championship games
If you’re a total sports fan like me (I’m gonna assume you are since you’ve read this far down in the column) then I really, really, really hope you realize what a fantastic year in sports we have had. In the big-three in professional sports consider this: the Cleveland Cavaliers won the city’s first pro championship in the return of LeBron James, stunning the Warriors after being down 3 games to 1 to capture the NBA title.The Chicago Cubs won their first World Series since 1908, also coming back from a 3-1 deficit to the Cleveland Indians and the New England Patriots were down 25 points in the third quarter and scored 31 unanswered in winning Super Bowl 51.
Don’t forget in college sports as March Madness gave us a last-second 3-pointer as Villanova beat North Carolina for the NCAA Basketball Championship in one of the wildest finishes in tournament history. And in the college football championship Clemson beat the mighty Alabama Crimson Tide on a late touchdown pass in a game for the ages.
And how about those Australian Open finals that saw Serena Williams win her 23rd Grand Slam event and Roger Federer, a 17 seed, beating Rafael Nadal for his 17th title.
What a time to be alive.