The plan was sound. If the Atlanta Falcons could saddle New England with a multi-touchdown deficit early, they would have a good chance to win. A healthy lead would allow Atlanta’s defense to play aggressively against a Patriots’ offense which needed to score with urgency. As the Falcons enjoyed a 25 point lead with 24 minutes remaining, it appeared that the blueprint for beating the Patriots was going to work. They would defeat the dynasty and hoist the Lombardi Trophy in Atlanta for the first time ever.
Painful as it may be, we all know what happened next. Love them or hate them, Tom Brady and the Pats showed once again why they have dominated the league for the last decade and a half, scoring 31 unanswered points to capture their 5th NFL title. The philosophy behind this latest success is simple: Adapt the gameplan based on your opponent’s weakness, and focus on winning one play at a time. Instead of being overwhelmed by the enormity or unlikelihood of a comeback, the Pats just kept going, refusing to quit as long as there was time remaining.
Even if football is not your cup of tea, a great lesson can be learned from this year’s big game: When things are going well, take nothing for granted. When the outlook seems bleak, focus on what you can do to improve the situation at that very moment. Many small successes add up, but only if you concentrate on the present moment and refuse to be discouraged by the big picture. This principle rings true in sports, in business, and in life in general. The past cannot be changed, and the future can be whatever you make it.