Buckley: Super Bowl LI takes the honor as Boston’s greatest sports moment

February 7, 2017 GMT

Greatest moment in Boston sports history?



But the mere fact that we’re even having this discussion over what happened at NRG Stadium Sunday night is a hair-raising, bolt-of-lightning reminder of what it’s like to be a Boston sports fan.

And that’s just in the last 15 years.

It has been joyous, heart-pounding .?.?. gluttonous.

It has been our very own Never Ending Story, with Wally the Green Monster as Falkor the Luckdragon.

It’s Charlie on the MTA in that you can’t get off of that train, the difference here being that you don’t want to.

Even with a dusty, dog-eared, overflowing 20th-century scrapbook sitting on the coffee table — John Havlicek stealing the ball, Bobby Orr scoring the goal, Pudge Fisk denting the foul pole, Doug Flutie throwing the pass, Celtics-Hawks in the ’57 finals, the “Impossible Dream,” “Harvard Beats Yale 29-29,” the Miracle Braves, Ted Williams hitting .406, and on and on and on — you can still make a genuine case that the top four moments in the entire history of Boston sports have all taken place in the 21st century.


Crazy, crazy, crazy.

Consider, in descending order, my list of The Four Greatest Moments in Boston Sports History:

4. The Patriots’ 28-24 victory over the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX, with Malcolm Butler sealing the deal with his now-I’m sorry (copyright Cris Collinsworth, 2015) interception of Russell Wilson’s would-be, game-winning touchdown.

3. The Patriots’ 20-17 victory over the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI. Tom Brady supplanting Drew Bledsoe as quarterback, the Tuck Rule, Adam Vinatieri’s kick to beat the Raiders, etc., served as a lounge act to the main event: The stupendous upset of the Rams. Bonus points because it was the Pats’ first championship. Extra bonus points because it all happened just a few months after 9/11 and nobody was offended when Robert Kraft said, “Today we are all Patriots.” As hard as it is to believe now, the Pats were plucky underdogs in those days. They were, for a while, America’s Team.

2. The Red Sox’ historic comeback against the Yankees in the 2004 American League Championship Series. You know, Dave Roberts stealing second, David Ortiz getting all those big hits, Curt Schilling and his bloody sock, “Don’t let us win just one game,” and Terry Francona bringing a measure of calmness and order to every bit of it.

1. And our no-more-calls-we-have-a-winner: Patriots 34, Atlanta Falcons 28 in Super Bowl LI. Even if it was only the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history, what with the Pats roaring back from a 28-3 deficit to claim victory on James White’s 2-yard overtime touchdown run, it might still be Boston’s greatest moment.

But it was so much more than an epic comeback.

It was Tom Brady using his talent for overachievement to outdo Roger Goodell’s talent for overreach.

It was the ultimate, final counterpunch to Deflategate.


It was Brady and Bill Belichick becoming the first quarterback/coach tandem to win five Super Bowls.

And it settled the question as to whom is the greatest quarterback in the game’s history. After what happened Sunday night, you look like a child if you show up at the table with your Joe Montana action figure.

And it was this: All kinds of people who hate the Patriots for all kinds of reasons spent the entire fourth quarter Sunday night standing in front of the flat screen, champagne in one and, party horns in the other, poised to have a wonderful laugh at the Pats’ expense.

Why does everyone hate the Patriots?

Pull up a chair. It’s as simple as “They win too much,” to as complicated as “They cheat.” And, yes, they are Team Trump, with Brady, owner Robert Kraft and Belichick all signed-up members of the new president’s wobbly bandwagon.

Put it all together.

Take a step back.


Greatest moment in Boston sports history? If it weren’t for what Mike Eruzione, Jim Craig, Jack O’Callahan, Dave Silk and the rest of the Boys of Winter accomplished at Lake Placid in 1980, we might be debating if what happened in Houston Sunday night is the greatest moment in American sports history. (We’d lose that debate, but it’d be fun.)

Looking back over my list, and my contention that the greatest moments in Boston sports history have all taken place in the 21st century, I open myself up to claims that I’m too caught up in the moment, that I’m being too dismissive of the 20th century.

Take, for instance, the Celtics’ grueling series against the St. Louis Hawks in 1957, and the Red Sox’ 1967 “Impossible Dream” season.

Nobody has more respect for those teams and those seasons than I do, especially the ’67 Sox, ’cuz for that one I was there, pal.

But I’ve come to look at those teams/seasons not as moments but as portals. The 1956-57 Celtics were the portal to 11 championships in 13 seasons. The ’67 Red Sox were a portal to where we are today in that they awakened interest in baseball around here in ways that can’t be understood if you weren’t around then.

In the end, though, my beloved ’67 Red Sox didn’t win the World Series. And while the ’56-57 Celts did win the NBA championship, I don’t think they mesmerized the region as have the Patriots and Red Sox of recent vintage.

These really are the best of times.

And Sunday night, NRG Stadium, Pats over Falcons, was the best time evah.