In June of this year, I received one of the best gifts I had ever gotten for my 22nd birthday; a ticket to the Super Bowl LI rematch. The hype surrounding the game had already been building up since the schedule release in April. As well all know, the Patriots mounted the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history by overcoming a 28-3 deficit to defeat Atlanta 34-28 in overtime back in February. Being an avid football fan, I expected another close contest and predicted on my blog that the game would have the exact same score.
This time, however, no comeback would be necessary.
When we first arrived, my friends and I set up our chairs and began grilling hot dogs. Tailgaters could be seen all around us. Many were grilling, playing beer pong, cornhole and other games appropriate for the setting. One of the best things about Patriots games is the tailgating. The people we sat next to were avid fans, who attended games every season. They gave us some delicious chili and invited us to play games with them and some friends. We spent about four hours at the tailgate and then made our way into the stadium.
The weather was perfect for a night game, with temperatures in the high fifties and no signs of precipitation on the radar. The atmosphere was electric, louder than I remember last time and for good reason. The game began about thirty minutes after we found our seats. Although we were sitting in the 300 level section, the seats were at the 50-yard line which gave us a good view of the entire field. The first penalty that went against the Patriots was a questionable call at best and the crowd let the refs hear it, including myself.
After the Patriots blocked an early Atlanta field goal attempt, they proceeded to drive the ball down and score the game’s first touchdown on a pass from Tom Brady to Brandin Cooks. The fireworks shot off, filling the Gillette air with smoke. It hung around for the next 10 minutes and then dissipated.
As we moved into the second-half the smoke appeared to have come back, or at least I thought it was smoke. After 15 minutes, I realized it was becoming thicker. My view of the field kept getting worse. Fog had overtaken the field, making certain plays impossible to see from where I was sitting. People all around me were taking pictures, myself included. I have been watching the Patriots for 13 years and I had never seen a game with this much fog. The scene was something straight out of a Stephen King movie. Having that extra element in a game that was already so meaningful made the fans even more fired up.
The Patriots dominated from start to finish and rolled the Falcons 23-7. The heavily and rightly criticized defense of New England pitched a shutout into the fourth quarter, before a late Julio Jones score ended the bid.
The game didn’t go as most expected. But since most fans’ hearts are still recovering from the finish back in February, I think very few people could complain about the game.