When Fox play-by-play Joe Buck said New England needed “an unprecedented comeback” in the Super Bowl when it was behind Atlanta, 28-9, my immediate thought was Bills fans would be nervous even in that position against the Patriots.
After all, only something like a 28-all tie could happen to the Bills, right.
Then the unprecedented happened.
Shortly after quarterback Tom Brady led the Patriots’ 34-28 overtime victory Sunday over the Falcons and their exhausted defense, Buck said: “The Patriots have redefined the word momentum here tonight.”
“If there is any doubt where Tom Brady stands,” added Buck, “he has won more Super Bowls and nobody has ever been better.”
The debate whether Brady is the game’s greatest of all time is over but a new one may start about whether the overtime rules are fair when only one team had a chance to score a touchdown and the other team may have to go on defense when it is exhausted from playing a previous series.
If the rule changes, call it Super Bowl LI’s Legacy.
I’ve never thought Buck belonged in the debate of the best NFL announcers, primarily because he never delivers a big closing statement after championships are won.
His big finish wasn't great again Sunday. When Patriot running back James White scored the winning touchdown, Buck just said: “He’s in. The Patriots win the Super Bowl. Brady has his fifth. What a comeback.”
But at least his excitement level was terrific.
And he had a very strong game overall. He was quick to repeatedly see penalties, honest in assessing the big mountain the Patriots had to climb in the fourth quarter and noting how much time New England was wasting in its touchdown drives.
Analyst Troy Aikman often has a firm grasp of the obvious but he was quick to note the Falcons’ defensive speed was helping to contain the Patriots early, New England’s unusual early inability to stop Atlanta’s stretch running game and how little time Atlanta's offense and quarterback Matt Ryan had the ball.
The Hall of Fame quarterback also was excellent in describing defensive coverage after plays were made and in noting that Brady was off his game before the fourth quarter and overtime and the quarterback finished with more than 400 yards passing.
He also was excited, too. He set an official record for saying the words “amazing” and “incredible.”
But by game’s end, those words seemed appropriate.
Fox’s camerawork was first class, its replays were excellent and it had great shots of the Patriots celebration after the winning touchdown. That’s even if many Western New Yorkers didn’t want to see them.
Here are more highs and lows from the coverage:
Best Patriot First Half: That would be injured tight end Rob Gronkowski, who was very busy starring in two funny commercials. The best one had him dressed as a caveman.
Best Timing: Before the Patriots touchdown that cut the score to 28-9 but wasted a lot of time running, Buck said “I imagine Patriots fans are saying ‘throw the football.’” I imagine they were saying a lot worse at that time.
Best Line: As the Pats fell behind, 28-9, Buck said of Pats Owner Robert Kraft: "He has not experienced anything like this at a Super Bowl." You could have said same thing after the comeback.
Best Commercial: My favorite was the Budweiser commercial about how two immigrants founded the company. It is hard to believe that it is controversial, especially since it was planned before the 2016 presidential race. I also loved the Coke commercial with an immigrant theme. But it was a repeat, having played during the 2014 Super Bowl.
Worst Mistake: Buck didn’t make many of them, but he confused Patriot receivers Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola twice on the same play.
Best Atlanta Moment: Fox’s camera caught a great shot of Atlanta Coach Dan Quinn after a pick six of Brady gave the Falcons a 21-0 lead. Buck soon noted it was Brady’s first ever interception for a touchdown in a postseason game.
Zebra Report: The officials called three holding calls against Atlanta on one Patriot drive, something that is unheard of in Super Bowls. Heck, if they called that many holding calls in the four Bills Super Bowls, they would have won one. Fox officiating expert Mike Pereira also noted that the game officials blew it when they penalized a Pats lineman for jumping on an extra point play because jumping over a lineman who isn’t the snapper is legal. That enabled the Falcons to kick an extra point that had been botched earlier.
Say What: After a Patriot fumble, Buck said (Patriots Coach) “Bill Belichick told us this is the best strip team we will see all year." Fill in your own strip joke.
Not Really: Buck said it was hard to believe the game was scoreless in the first quarter with Brady at quarterback. Not really. The Pats haven’t scored in the first quarter in several that Brady has played in. Somehow, it hasn’t seemed to matter five times.
Pregame Report: Fox’s Terry Bradshaw did a flattering interview with Brady that he ended by saying he didn’t bring up Deflategate because he doesn't care about it. Buck didn’t bring it up, either, and I believe only mentioned his suspension once. I guess even Brady haters can concede the air pressure of footballs has no impact on his performance. Earlier, Bradshaw asked Brady if he would walk away from the game if the Patriots won. “Hell, no,” replied Brady. Sorry, Bills fans.