What’s the Catch? by Kendra Jackson
It was Super Bowl LI. Everyone was speechless. The Patriots were getting smoked by the Atlanta Falcons.
Tom Brady had been rushed, sacked and picked off all within the span of the first half, and it seemed as though Super Bowl victory No. 5 was just about out of reach for the New England Patriots.
The score was 28-3 late in the third quarter, and nobody expected a blowout this bad.
Coming back from such a big deficit would have been an impossible feat for most teams and for most quarterbacks … but not for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
New England had scored 17 unanswered points, and it was officially a ball game.
That’s when it happened. One of the most amazing moments in Super Bowl history.
The Patriots were 64 yards from the end zone and were facing an 8-point deficit.
Just 2:28 was left in regulation, and the offense for New England was set. Shot gun formation – Brady set and ready to throw a bullet.
Julian Edelman was the intended receiver, but he was surrounded by three Falcons.
Robert Alford, the Falcons corner who picked off Brady in the first half, made what would have been one of the biggest ball deflections in his entire career. He hit the football as it was spiraling in the air, and it looked as if he had ruined the hopes of New England, all with a bat of the ball.
But Alford didn’t pick the ball this time, he just deflected it in the air; the ball was still in play and fair game to be caught.
Regardless of all the traffic, Edelman managed to make one of the most prodigious catches in Super Bowl history.
Edelman was able to grab the batted ball, put his hand under it, secure it and prevent it from touching the ground.
In that very moment, I knew, and everyone watching knew, that the Patriots were going to come back and win this game.
That catch set up the tying touchdown that eventually led to the first overtime period in Super Bowl history, and another Lombardi Trophy for New England.
That 23-yard pass across the middle was the fairytale to end what was a rollercoaster season for the Patriots. From the Deflategate scandal to Brady’s resulting suspension, New England wanted this one bad – and that catch made sure it happened.
In the words of Patriots owner Robert Kraft, this win was “unequivocally the sweetest.”
Party Like It’s 1985 by Andrew Bishop
To football fans of the 21st century, the idea of the Chicago Bears blowing out the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl seems almost unheard of. However, at the end of the 1985 season in Super Bowl XX, the Monsters of the Midway bullied the Patriots to a 46-10 victory.
Every Chicago Bears fan who was alive in 1985 remembers the Bears’ triumphant quest for the Lombardi Trophy, and even those like myself who were born after their victory grew up hearing tales of the famed team that won the Bears their first and only Super Bowl.
Scholars of the game regard the ’85 Bears as being one of the greatest teams in the history of the NFL. Much like the Patriots of today, everyone was betting on the Bears to win in ’85. Led by legendary head coach Mike Ditka, the Bears’ defense terrorized opposing teams in ways nobody had ever seen before, and their offense was carried almost singlehandedly by the immortal Walter Payton, the greatest professional running back of all time.
Throughout the season, the Bears dominated on the field, going 15-1 and leading the league on defense, and off the field, where Bears players recorded a Grammy-nominated hit single that raised over $300,000 for Chicago charities. Unlike the Patriots, who are viewed as the proverbial “bad guys” of the NFL, the ’85 Bears were lovable and dominant, and America couldn’t get enough of them.
There were many great moments throughout the Bears’ season, Grammy nomination included, but the most memorable moment of all came in the third quarter of Super Bowl XX. Following a fumble recovery by Bears linebacker Wilber Marshall, the Bears managed to march down to the Patriots 1-yard line, where they employed their secret weapon: William Perry, a 6’2”, 350-pound defensive tackle-turned running back.
Perry, better known by his endearing nickname “The Fridge,” was one of the largest players to ever set foot on a professional football field, and Coach Ditka had the brilliant idea to give this monstrous human being the ball on the goal line. Outweighing nearly every opposing defender by over 100 pounds, the Fridge took the handoff and plowed through the line like a bowling ball, stumbling into the end zone for a touchdown.
The nation erupted in collective laughter as the athletic giant ran over his opposition and capped his score off with a ball spike that puts Rob Gronkowski’s to shame. Despite lasting no more than a few seconds, that goal line play is remembered by football fans throughout the nation for all of eternity.
The ’85 Bears are worshipped by fans throughout the nation, and reruns of the Patriots’ demolition in Super Bowl XX still play in American households to this day. It was an undeniably memorable season, which was capped off in spectacular fashion with a touchdown scored by a man the size of a refrigerator.
PATS INT SAVES THE DAY by Spencer Ault
It’s a little difficult for me to pick just one Super Bowl moment in particular as my favorite.
I’m a Patriots fan, see, which means that not only am I incredibly obnoxious, but I also have a lot of good moments to choose from.
The Adam Vinatieri field goals are pretty good, if a little fuzzy, and the whole fourth quarter against the Falcons was pretty amazing.
The top spot, however, is reserved for the Malcolm Butler interception to win Super Bowl XLIX.
I was a junior in high school, only just starting to worry about getting into college.
I was actually enrolled in an SAT prep class that met on Sunday nights, even on Sunday nights that happened to be the Super Bowl.
I started the game off at a friend’s house, but I went back home to be with my mostly Patriot-supporting family after a tough third quarter put New England behind 24-14.
My friends all hated the Patriots, rightfully so, and I wanted to be in a friendlier environment.
I could barely remember the Patriots’ three Super Bowl wins but I could definitely remember the two losses, and I wasn’t looking forward to a repeat of that feeling.
As the Seahawks drove into Patriot territory late in the game, however, it looked as though that was what I was in for.
The insane Jermaine Kearse catch, where he managed to catch a deflected pass by kicking it to himself while lying flat on his back, just reinforced my sense of doom.
The Seahawks inched closer to the end zone, and I started resigning myself to a depressing SAT class.
Then Malcolm Butler undercut Kearse’s slant at the goal line and intercepted the ball with 20 seconds left in the game.
I went nuts, running around the house while my dad just stood there in disbelief.
The feeling just got better as the Patriots ran down the clock and my family continued to celebrate. Then I immediately got in my car and drove to my class, blasting music and singing the whole way.
It was the first Super Bowl win I was really conscious for, and it was amazing.
Being at home made it even more special, pushing it over the top in my memory banks.
If all goes right, I’ll have another good memory after Sunday, but it’s hard to see anything topping that interception.
A version of this story appeared on p. 9 of the Feb. 1, 2018, edition of the Daily Nexus.