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The Falcons Rose Up, but the Patriots Put Them Down

An air of inevitability took hold once the New England Patriots tied Super Bowl LI. The Falcons were spent. When the Pats got the ball to start overtime, it was academic.

One of the bigger mysteries of the 2016 NFL season was Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers began the season playing like, well, not himself. He wasn't exactly bad, per se, but he was lacking just enough of his typical accuracy that he resembled another, less Aaron Rodgers-ish quarterback, and that alone was enough to raise eyebrows. The people that wonder about this sort of thing wondered whether the Packers quarterback was beginning his career decline perhaps a little earlier than some other top passers. And then, when he turned back into Aaron Rodgers in the second half of the season, they stopped wondering about that. There was no smoking gun offered up by even the most obsessive tape grinder for why any of this happened, and no clear or multi-part answer has emerged as far as scheme or technique. The Packers' offensive line was good the entire season, and give or take the half-dozen or so doomed running backs lining up behind him the personnel around Rodgers didn't change much. Rodgers simply got better as the year went on and eventually returned to the dominating form fans know. Why? Because he somehow decided to run the table? Tom Brady's Super Bowl LI played out as a similar sort of microcosmic mystery. In the first half, he missed throws that we aren't accustomed to seeing Brady miss. Some were the result of pressure, but certainly not all. Atlanta's defense looked like it was moving around at a higher speed than the Patriots offense. That was decidedly not true by the end of the night, when New England's nearly two-to-one advantage in time of possession wore them down, but early in the game Dan Quinn's defense looked like it would turn in a performance to rival some of his work in Seattle. Hell, they even got the first-ever postseason pick-six of Brady to take a 21-0 lead in the second quarter. Read more on VICE Sports