Published: Feb. 7, 2017 at 12:44 p.m.
Updated: Feb. 7, 2017 at 03:22 p.m.

Better Super Bowl: XLIX or LI?


Over the past three seasons, we've been treated to two of the greatest Super Bowls ever. And both games have been extra special for fans of the New England Patriots.

In Super Bowl XLIX, New England scored the final 14 points of the game -- but it was a defensive play that immediately entrenched itself in Super Bowl lore. With under 30 seconds remaining, Seattle had the ball at the Patriots' 1-yard line, down 28-24. But instead of handing off to Marshawn Lynch, the Seahawks called a pass -- and Pats CB Malcolm Butler proceeded to jump the route and pick off the ball, ending the game in stunning fashion.

In this past Sunday's instant classic, the Pats trailed 28-3 late in the third quarter. But Tom Brady and Co. stormed all the way back -- with Julian Edelman making the kind of catch that had buried New England in Super Bowls past -- and sent Super Bowl LI to overtime. In the extra period, the Patriots got the ball first and took it 75 yards for the game-ending score.

This begs an obvious question ... Which was the better Super Bowl: XLIX or LI?

Super Bowl LI will be remembered for generations
I'm going with Super Bowl LI, and not just because it's the freshest in my mind. There are plenty of reasons to see this game as special, including the fact that it went into overtime and, of course, the fact that the Patriots made up a 25-point deficit in less than 25 minutes.

The competitive balance in the NFL dictates that we should see more close, entertaining, well-played Super Bowls in the future, but even so, this is one people will be talking about 50 years from now. When the NFL championship is decided basically by one or two plays, that shows how evenly matched these teams were.
Super Bowl XLIX was compelling from start to finish
The answer is undoubtedly Super Bowl XLIX. The finish of Super Bowl LI was unforgettable, but for a significant portion of the game, it appeared to be a blowout. Super Bowl XLIX was a competitive game throughout, with the score tied at the end of the first quarter and at halftime. Even when it looked like the Seahawks had taken control, they had just a 10-point lead -- far from insurmountable.

Give me a solid four-quarter game over just a furious finish.
It's hard to fathom what the 2016 Patriots did -- on Sunday and throughout the season
I love both of those games, but I have to go with Super Bowl LI because of the Patriots' season as a whole. In everything this team had to go through -- from Tom Brady's suspension to a number of key injuries -- New England showed unbelievable resilience. On Sunday, the Pats were down 25 points in the third quarter. Usually, the game is over -- but this team kept fighting.

With all of the storylines from the season, both on and off the field, it's a little surreal. These Patriots won in such dramatic fashion -- words can't really describe what they just accomplished.
Patriots' epic comeback in Super Bowl LI defied all odds
I would go with Super Bowl LI between New England and Atlanta. When you come back from a 28-3 deficit late in the third quarter to win it in overtime, that does it for me. The Patriots had to be perfect down the stretch to pull that off. Tom Brady and the receivers lacked consistency earlier in the game. The Pats' defense experienced trouble stopping the outside run. Then, all of a sudden, Brady could not miss, the receivers started making plays and the defense adjusted to stop the run.

It will be hard to top that overtime game in future years as the best Super Bowl.
Back-and-forth nature of XLIX made for better viewing experience
Funny enough, I was thinking about this myself Sunday night lying in bed. For me, it's Super Bowl XLIX. While the Patriots' comeback was tremendous in Sunday's game, the Falcons disappeared for most of the second half. Super Bowl XLIX featured more of a back-and-forth nature that culminated in the game's (almost) final play. That made it a more interesting/captivating watch, as opposed to the slow collapse of the Falcons and seemingly inevitable triumph of the Patriots.
Super Bowl LI is in a class of its own
Sunday's game was epic! It was over. Everything was going against the Patriots -- a fumble, a pick-six, a missed extra point -- and then Tom Brady put on a show that the world's never seen before.
The empire struck back in Super Bowl LI
Congratulations to the Patriots fan on another amazing Super Bowl win. I'm happy for you (no lie). Now you have the luxury of debating which Super Bowl win was the best, much like how "Star Wars" fans debate which of the eight (including "Rogue One") films is the greatest in franchise history.

Obviously, Super Bowl LI will be "The Empire Strikes Back" as the undisputed best of the series. (And really, that fits on so many levels.) So I don't think the debate lies there. Rather, the true debate comes in what would be considered second.

For me, it's going to be Super Bowl XXXVI. The Patriots were huge underdogs in that game, not given much of a chance by anyone (outside of me, a young, climbing writer for during that time). The Patriots (like the Falcons on Sunday) blew a fourth-quarter lead and were tied late in the game. But this time, it was untested Tom Brady (before he became a truly badass Jedi) who led the Patriots on a scoring drive to set up Adam Vinatieri's walk-off field goal and launch the whole dynasty. Which, I guess, gave New England fans (wait for it) a "New Hope."

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