Did Super Bowl LI restore excitement to the No Fun League?

Did Super Bowl LI restore excitement to the No Fun League?

By: Ashley Conley

The NFL has quickly become the ‘No Fun League’ thanks to rule changes and ridiculous fines and penalties for things like dress code violations and touchdown celebrations.

According to FierceCable, NFL viewership has decreased seven percent over the last two seasons and the numbers continue to drop. TV ratings declined by nine percent during the 2016-17 regular season and six percent during the recent playoffs.

Although the statistics are grim, things may be looking up following a memorable Super Bowl LI – the first in NFL history to reach overtime.

julian-edelman-celebration
si.com

What made Super Bowl LI so exciting?

An insane amount of records were broken. 

  • Asher Fair of SportsPress.co reported that 18 records were broken by the New England Patriots including Most Super Bowl Appearances by a Single Team (NE, 9) and Most Super Bowl Appearances by a Quarterback (Tom Brady, 7). New England definitely had the experience advantage, as this was only Atlanta’s second trip to the Super Bowl in franchise history (both ended in defeat).
  • Fair also noted that the Falcons broke the record for Largest Super Bowl Lead Blown by Losing Team (Atlanta, 25 points).

What a great way to go down in the history books, Atlanta!

Game-changing plays by wide receivers in the fourth quarter. 

  • J. Good of JGoodWithSports.com wrote prior to the Super Bowl that Falcons wideout Julio Jones is arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL. He also noted that even though the Patriots have been without powerhouse tight end Rob Gronkowski for most of the season, their receiving core has not missed a step thanks to the talent of Julian Edelman, among others.
  • J. Good was right about Jones and Edelman – both made incredible catches to keep their teams alive late in the fourth quarter. Jones’ near-sideline grab came first, and although it was unbelievable and allowed Atlanta to run some time off the clock with an eight-point lead, it wasn’t even the best catch of the night. Two minutes later, Edelman made arguably the greatest snag in Super Bowl history to extend the Patriots’ drive that eventually led to a touchdown and 2-point conversion that tied the game and sent it into overtime.

I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen as these catches were happening.

The emotions were high, especially for Tom Brady. 

  • Whether you’re a Tom Brady fan or not (and let’s be honest, most people aren’t after the whole DeflateGate thing), you have to admit there was some satisfaction in seeing him win this one. Prior to the game, Brady said he was playing Super Bowl LI for his mother who has been battling an undisclosed illness and has not been able to attend any games so far this season. But, miraculously, she made it to the Super Bowl to watch her son play.
  • Kate Johnson of 4amwriter.com described Brady as a roller coaster of emotions throughout the game. The first three quarters, while the Patriots were down big, “He looked worried, a bit disbelieving. His feet got a little happy and he wasn’t always his calm, cool Bradyliciousness.” Johnson then observed pure focus from the future Hall of Famer. “He knew what he had to do – even if the job seemed impossible.”
  • He did it. Brady orchestrated a 19-point fourth quarter comeback and drove his team all the way down the field in overtime to score a touchdown on the opening drive. With New England’s victory, Brady claimed his fifth Super Bowl title which ties a player-best record.

The greatest part was that his mother was there, in person, to see the whole thing. This is what it’s all about, and this is the kind of thing sports fans love to watch.

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Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Super Bowl LI gave us a little bit of everything. Domination for the first half of the game (which can be considered boring by viewers who were not Falcons fans), an intriguing and powerful halftime show, sheer excitement in the fourth quarter, and a plethora of emotional moments.

Games like this make me wish the next football season started tomorrow.

Cover Image: insider.ticketmaster.com

Ashley Conley is a senior journalism student at WVU. She aspires to become a writer or reporter in the sports industry upon graduation. You can follow her on Twitter @ashleyconleyyy

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