With a 28-9 lead heading into the fourth quarter, it looked like Dwight Freeney and the Atlanta Falcons would be claiming their first championship in Sunday’s Super Bowl LI.
Instead, the Falcons surrendered 25 points in the fourth and overtime, and the New England Patriots came away with one of the most miraculous comebacks in sports championship history.
If you’re a non-Pats fan, it may have made you sick to your stomach. It’s likely that Freeney, the game’s only Syracuse Orange football alum, was after a strong effort by him throughout the contest.
Freeney was a force for much of the early stages of the game, registering a sack and helping apply a ton of pressure on New England QB Tom Brady -- all instrumental in the team’s struggles through three quarters.
While he’s won one before (with the Indianapolis Colts in 2007), it’s never easy to lose a Super Bowl. He was also with the Colts when they fell to the New Orleans Saints in Super Bowl XLIV in 2010.
Despite Freeney’s loss, however, others with SU ties did lock up their own championship rings with the Patriots’ win. Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia won his third title (also: 2004, 2014) in New England. He was an offensive grad assistant for SU from 2001-03. Former Syracuse wide receivers coach Ivan Fears (1980-90) won his fifth as a member of the Pats staff, where he’s served as running backs coach since 2002. Dave Schoenfeld, previously on SU’s equipment staff, also collected a win Sunday - his second since joining the Patriots five years ago.
Happy? Let’s never talk about this again.