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The past 12 months could be termed the Year of the Underdog.

Several major ‘can’t wins’ won.

UK voters opted for Brexit last July. It’s just passed the House of Commons.

The Cubs won the World Series after 108 years in early November.

Donald Trump was elected president on November 8. The Electoral College affirmed that on December 19.

On Sunday, February 5, 2017 the New England Patriots won their fifth Superbowl. Tom Brady emerged as the top quarterback of all time. The team beat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in the first Superbowl ever to go into overtime.

Pre-game predictions

Earlier on Sunday, Fox’s Bill O’Reilly talked to Trump about his relationship with the Patriots, who supported his candidacy. Trump is also close friends with the team’s owner Bob Kraft. The discussion starts at 8:42 in the video below. Pressed by O’Reilly, Trump predicted the Patriots would win by eight points (8:50). In the end, they won by six!

Weirdly, this is what Trump predicted in 2015:

Predictions as the game progressed

In the third quarter, the Falcons were up by three touchdowns. No Superbowl contender has ever won by coming from behind more than 10 points.

Hence this ESPN tweet:

Trump tweeted:

Someone crudely responded (see the Twitter feed) that he shouldn’t compare the Superbowl to the 216 election. Oh really?

The Wall Street Journal pronounced:

Donald J Trump Jr, who enjoyed a pre-game repast at home with his family, responded:

Victory for the Patriots

Once more, the usual pontificating pundits were proven wrong.

The Daily Mail has a good overall roundup of not only the game but also the drama surrounding it — as well as a lot of great photos. Emphases mine below:

Tom Brady held the Vince Lombardi trophy high above his head and told New England Patriots fans he was ‘taking this sucker home’ after the team defeated the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday night 34 – 28 in the first Super Bowl to ever go into overtime.

The quarterback broke down in tears after the game, in which the team managed to comeback from a 25 point deficit in the third quarter of the game to even the score and keep their hopes of yet another victory alive.

The Patriots then clinched the victory minutes into overtime when James White plunged past the goal line on the team’s opening drive in extra time.

It was a historic win for Brady and head coach Bell Belichick, who with the victory now each have five Super Bowl rings, the most of any player or coach in the history of the NFL.

Brady made history by also winning the Super Bowl MVP honor for the fourth time in history, more than any other player.

And he did it all in front of his mother Galynn Brady, who is suffering through an undisclosed illness and wore a bandanna over her head as she greeted her son after his victory.

Afterwards

Trump tweeted his congratulations:

The pundits had to walk back their words and predictions. Here’s FiveThirtyEight‘s Walt Hickey:

25 points

It was really one for the record books: No team has come back from a Super Bowl deficit of more than 10 points, and Tom Brady proved — to my chagrin — that he’s the best quarterback ever. He had more completions, pass attempts and passing yards in a Super Bowl than anyone else, ever. His team ran the most-ever offensive plays in the championship. The Pats put together the biggest comeback — 25 points! — in a Super Bowl ever. It’s the most ridiculous achievement — ever. [ESPN]

ESPN produced a series of memorable tweets:

The journey was not easy. The Patriots were hit by a series of penalties from the 2015 season which saw Brady benched at the beginning of the 2016 season. ESPN reports:

As owner Robert Kraft said in the days leading up to Super Bowl LI, Deflategate penalties levied by the NFL against Brady and the team had a deeply rooted impact on the 2016 Patriots. Brady was hit with a four-game suspension for the January 2015 incident that months of court battles couldn’t overturn. Meanwhile, the Patriots were fined $1 million and docked a first-round pick in 2016 and a fourth-round pick in 2017.

However, the Patriots, thanks to Belichick, won without Brady, so by the time he returned to the field:

on Oct. 9 in Cleveland, it felt like a home game, many fans taking advantage of Columbus Day weekend to make the trip to be there for that moment when Brady first took the field.

It had a Super Bowl-like feel to it, and what manifested itself the rest of the season was a region showering Brady with its appreciation and love on a daily basis. While Brady had his offensive line protecting him on the field, New England fans, as passionate as ever, were protective of his legacy.

ESPN also has a good play-by-play rundown — ‘Anatomy of a miracle’ — about a Superbowl that will be studied for years to come. There is also a video at the link. The article begins as follows:

Zero-point-two percent. Two in a thousand. The New England Patriots stunned the St. Louis Rams to win the first Super Bowl of the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady era during the 2001 playoffs, but even that upset can’t compare to the comeback New England pulled to beat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 on Sunday night in Super Bowl LI. The Pats pieced together incredible play with fortuitous bounces and impeccable timing to overcome a Falcons team that had a 99.8 percent shot of claiming its first Super Bowl with 21 minutes to go.

What happened from then on was nothing short of a miracle. The Patriots needed just about everything to go right and had the vast majority of those moments swing their way.

As with so many other wins, ESPN concludes it’s not what the losing team does, it’s what they don’t do that determines the outcome. Worth noting!

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