It was a comeback for the ages. It was the sport's greatest coach and the greatest quarterback engineering the greatest win in Super Bowl history.
No, it was actually just their opponents imploding.
The New England Patriots' stunning 34-28 overtime win over the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI was by far the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history, and while Tom Brady's MVP performance and Julian Edelman's miraculous catch were certainly impressive, they were nothing compared with the Falcons' coaching staff's epic meltdown in the game's final minutes.
Let's see: An insurmountable lead, media know-it-alls giving one side a 99% chance of winning, and that side snatching defeat from the jaws of almost-certain victory. Where have we seen this before? Oh yeah, in the presidential election.
Hillary Clinton couldn't lose. On the campaign trail, her opponent, Donald Trump simply couldn't stop making unforced errors; routinely saying things that would have ended other presidential runs. An old Access Hollywood tape that surfaced in October was supposed to end this election three weeks early.
The Falcons couldn't lose either. After a scoreless first quarter, their high-powered offense began to dominate. And the Patriots couldn't stop making unforced errors; committing stupid penalties and losing a fumble that led directly to Atlanta's first touchdown. Then a Brady interception that the Falcons returned for a touchdown to make it 21-0 was supposed to end this game midway through the second quarter.
After a second half Falcons touchdown made it 28-3, ESPN's prediction model gave Atlanta a 99.3% chance to win the game.
On the day before Election Day, The Huffington Post's prediction model gave Clinton a 98.2% chance of winning the presidency.
Yet a funny thing happened on the way to her Inauguration; Donald Trump simply kept working even when the so-called experts in the media said he had no chance to win. Tom Brady and the Patriots kept playing even though no team had ever come back from 11 points down, much less 25.
Still, both Trump and New England had plenty of help from either overconfident or incompetent opponents.
Clinton's campaign largely ignored the upper Midwest on the campaign trail, focusing instead on running up the popular vote in states that she either couldn't lose or couldn't win. In one of the campaign's most puzzling mistakes, Clinton became the first Democratic nominee in decades to fail to visit Wisconsin during the general election. Not surprisingly, Wisconsin went for a Republican for the first time in decades.
Instead of focusing on her so-called "Blue Wall" of Rust Belt states--Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin--Clinton's campaign devoted almost all of its attention to swing states that she didn't need to win: Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio.
The math was in her favor, but either hubris or stupidity cost her the presidency.
In the closing minutes of the Super Bowl, the math was still in Atlanta's favor. Up 8 with the ball at New England's 23 yard line, all the Falcons needed to do was run a couple of running plays in the middle of the field to force the Patriots to use their final timeouts and then kick a 40-yard field goal (a relatively simple kick for an excellent kicker, Matt Bryant, in an indoor stadium) to go up by 11 points and force New England to score twice with no timeouts in 3:38.
Instead, the Falcons coaching staff inexplicably called a passing play on 2nd and 11. Ryan was sacked for a loss of 12 yards, turning an easy 40 yard field goal into a difficult 52-yarder. on 3rd and 23, a nine-yard reception was negated by a holding penalty, setting up 3rd and 33 and taking Atlanta out of field goal range altogether.
Rather than focus on the basics, the Falcons either got overconfident--thinking they could pass at will on a struggling Patriots secondary--or stupid. In either case, they handed New England a golden opportunity just like Hillary did by all but conceding the Rust Belt to Trump.
It's fitting, then, that the Patriots' quarterback, Tom Brady, and coach, Bill Belichick, are Trump supporters: They believed in themselves when the world had written them off and kept working even though the world told them that they had no chance of winning. They waited for their opponents to make head-scratching, devastating mistakes and then capitalized on them.
And against staggering, seemingly insurmountable odds, they won.