Robert Kraft had done this four times before. He’d stood on a stage, confetti raining down, waiting to be presented with the Lombardi Trophy.
But this time was different. The New England Patriots had just won their fifth Super Bowl and second in three seasons to bookend a saga that stretched over two years. And to do so, it took overtime and the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history.
So after Kraft accepted the Lombardi Trophy from Roger Goodell on Sunday following the Patriots’ 34-28 win over the Falcons, he reflected briefly on the journey the franchise has taken the last few years.
“Two years ago, we won our fourth Super Bowl down in Arizona and I told our fans that was the sweetest one of all. But a lot has transpired during the last two years. And I don’t think that needs any explanation,” he said, hinting at Deflategate.
“But I want to say to our fans, our brilliant coaching staff, our amazing players who were so spectacular, this is unequivocally the sweetest. And I’m proud to say for the fifth time, we are all Patriots and tonight for the fifth time, the Patriots are world champions.”
When it was his turn on the postgame stage, coach Bill Belichick, who became the second-oldest coach to win a Super Bowl, was quick to credit his players.
“It’s all about these players. We got great players,” he said. “They’re tough and they compete. We thought they competed for 60 minutes, but it took more tonight. You guys competed down 28-3 and never looked back.”
Quarterback Tom Brady, who is the only four-time MVP is Super Bowl history, praised the perseverance of this Patriots team to overcome a 25-point deficit.
“Coach talks about you never know which play it’s going to be in the Super Bowl and there was probably 30 of them tonight that if any one of those had been different, the outcome could’ve been different,” said Brady, who was 21-of-32 passing for 234 yards in the fourth quarter and overtime. “But I’m so proud of our guys, our coaches, the team. It was unbelievable what these guys have accomplished all season. I’m just proud to be a part of this great group.
“It’s going to be a great celebration tonight. Thank you to all our fans, everyone back in Boston, New England, we love you. You’ve been with us all year. We’re bringing this sucker home.”