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Enemy Reaction Special Edition: Super Bowl 51

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NFL: Super Bowl LI-New England Patriots vs Atlanta Falcons Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

A little over two years after Trent Dilfer famously declared the New England Patriots as “not good anymore” following a 41-14 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Patriots have hoisted their second Super Bowl title in the last three years, and their fifth since the 2001 season. It took a record-setting 25-point comeback and the first ever overtime in Super Bowl history for the Patriots to stun the Atlanta Falcons at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. James White’s determined two-yard run gave New England a truly improbable 34-28 win.

I know the Field Gulls contingent was overwhelmingly rooting for the Falcons to win, myself included, but even I had to smile and appreciate what unfolded after Atlanta went up 28-3, and then hurriedly run to my car and listen on radio after my entire block briefly lost power literally at the two-minute warning. What better way to close out Enemy Reaction for the 2016 season than to chronicle one of the craziest games in NFL history? The game thread reactions are courtesy of Pats Pulpit and The Falcoholic (Note: their positions will be flipped after 28-9). You’ll also see additional reactions across the SB Nation NFL blogosphere.

LaGarrette Blount gets stuffed on 3rd and 1, forcing New England to punt (0-0)

Trey Flowers sacks Matt Ryan on 3rd down, forcing Atlanta to punt (0-0)

Grady Jarrett levels Tom Brady, forcing another Patriots punt (0-0)

LaGarrette Blount fumbles on potential scoring drive, Falcons recover (0-0)

Devonta Freeman strides in for the first touchdown of the game (7-0 ATL)

Matt Ryan throws a touchdown to Austin Hooper (14-0 ATL)

Falcons get penalized for holding on 3rd down for the third time on New England’s drive (14-0 ATL)

Tom Brady throws a pick 6 to Robert Alford (21-0 ATL)

Taylor Gabriel wrecks Malcolm Butler’s ankles (21-3 ATL)

Bonus reactions from the...

Panthers (Cat Scratch Reader)

Saints (Canal Street Chronicles)

Colts (Stampede Blue)

Steelers (Behind the Steel Curtain)

Texans (Battle Red Blog)

Matt Ryan tosses an easy touchdown to Tevin Coleman (28-3 ATL)

James White scores a touchdown, but Stephen Gostkowski misses the extra point (28-9 ATL)

Say what now? (28-9 ATL)

AHEM! (28-12 ATL)

Dont’a Hightower sacks Matt Ryan, Patriots recover the fumble (28-12 ATL)

Danny Amendola scores a touchdown, Patriots get the two-point conversion to make it a one-possession game (28-20 ATL)

Julio Jones is a freak (28-20 ATL)

Reaction from Packers fans (Acme Packing Company)

Matt Ryan takes a critical sack on 2nd down (28-20 ATL)

Falcons get into field goal range, but Jake Matthews commits a blatant hold to kill the drive (28-20 ATL)

Julian Edelman pulls off the impossible (28-20 ATL)

Reactions from Giants fans (Big Blue View)

James White scores a 1-yard touchdown, Danny Amendola forces overtime on a two-point conversion (28-28)

Patriots easily march down the field, James White muscles his way in for the Super Bowl winning touchdown (34-28 NE FINAL)

Niners Nation reacts to Kyle Shanahan’s playcalling meltdown

Reactions from the...

Panthers

Buccaneers

Saints

Jets

Dolphins

Steelers

Broncos

Colts

Texans

Giants

Post-Game (Patriots): James White should’ve been Super Bowl MVP

With a need for changes, the Patriots made adjustments in the second half. One of them was featuring James White. In the regular season, White was a pretty good receiver out of the backfield for the Patriots. He was able to total 60 receptions, 551 receiving yards, and five receiving touchdowns.

Despite the good regular season, White was a non-factor in the two previous playoff games for the Patriots. However, that would change in the Super Bowl.

In the comeback win, White totaled six rushes, 29 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns, 14 receptions, 110 receiving yards, and one receiving touchdown. It was a bit surprising to see White not win the Super Bowl MVP, as he was a key part of the comeback win. The 14 receptions White was able to total was a new Super Bowl record, and a majority of them came in the second half.

White may not have won the Super Bowl MVP, however, he was certainly deserving. The Patriots making the adjustment to use White more was one of the reasons why they were able to finally have success against the Falcons in the second half. - Nick Ziegler, Musket Fire

Post-Game (Falcons): Super collapse could stunt young Falcons

There’s not much in the way of a Falcons antecedent, but what there is elicits a similar gulp: The 1998 team was 14-2; after botching the Super Bowl every which way, the 1999 Birds went 5-11.

Win the Super Bowl and you’re showered with confetti and handed a trophy and you go to Disney World. Lose the Super Bowl and, even as your record insists that you’re the NFL’s second-biggest winner, you’re branded a loser. That’s the nature of this game. That’s the history DQ and his Brotherhood must buck.

After the crash, Ryan was asked what he’d said to his teammates. His answer: “There’s not really much you can say.” Internally, maybe not. Externally, we’ll be discussing the night of Feb. 5, 2017, for as long as there’s an NFL, as long as there’s an Atlanta.

That last part might be the hardest knot to untie. The nicest thing about these Falcons was that they kept surprising us in a good way. Then, the finish line in sight, they collapsed in the epic Atlanta way – except that this was worse than anything our city had ever seen. (And we figured we’d seen it all.) The move next door to Mercedes-Benz Stadium will see a talented team take occupancy of a gleaming new arena, but the old stain just became indelible.

The Falcons led the Super Bowl by 25 points and didn’t win. No team had done that before an Atlanta team did it. This was a season easy to embrace until, like every nearly Atlanta embrace, it was broken. For all of us, it will take a very long time to get past this. - Mark Bradley, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Post-Game GIF: Falcons Super Bowl merchandise gets pulled from an Atlanta store

There’s no way around it. Plenty of credit should go to the Patriots for pulling off one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history, but man oh man did the Falcons self-destruct on a level in which we may never ever see again in a Super Bowl. Jake Matthews twice committed holding penalties which knocked Atlanta out of field goal range. The Falcons didn’t convert a single 3rd down after halftime (apart from a penalty committed by Malcolm Butler), they continued to snap the ball with plenty of time on the play clock, they only ran the ball five times for ten yards after going up 28-3, they allowed 31 unanswered points in 21 minutes, they didn’t force a 3rd down in overtime, they completely collapsed.

From a Seahawks perspective, Atlanta figures to be a rival for playoff positioning down the road, so any lingering effects they may have after such a heartbreaking loss should benefit Seattle way more than the general enjoyment of seeing the Patriots lose. I feel for Dan Quinn, who gameplanned brilliantly on defense, and he will no doubt have this game hanging over this head throughout next season.

Thanks to everyone for reading and sharing my Enemy Reaction series for another season. The format you know now has been in place since 2011 and has graduated from a fanpost series to full-time front page status. Enemy Reaction will return in September for a Best of 2016-17 season recap, and then hopefully on Monday, February 5th, 2018, the season finale will be a Seahawks Super Bowl win in Minneapolis.

....Previously on Enemy Reaction 2016