On Sunday, the New England Patriots won Super Bowl LI -- their fifth championship in the Bill Belichick and Tom Brady era. In the process, Brady solidified his status as the greatest quarterback of all time and Belichick, well, he has been alone atop the coaching leaderboard for a while now.

Meanwhile, the Falcons joined last season's Panthers in a group of teams that history won't treat well. In the short term, they'll be remembered as nothing more than a team that came up short when it mattered most. In the long term, they'll be forgotten, used only as a comparison when another historically high-scoring team comes along in the future.

By now, you might be confused, mainly because Super Bowl LI is scheduled for this coming Sunday. Allow me to explain: This entire time, I've been talking about CBS Sports' simulation of Super Bowl LI using the "Madden NFL 17" video game.

If you're rolling your eyes, let me remind you that my colleague Will Brinson ran a "Madden" season-long simulation before the season, which predicted the Falcons would win the Super Bowl. So, while Madden sims might not be as accurate as that cute dog that has been correctly picking the winners, they're definitely the next best thing.

For the record, I used the game's Super Bowl mode, which means the game was played at NRG Stadium. The rosters were up to date, which means Rob Gronkowski did not make an appearance. And the quarter lengths were set to 15 minutes, which means I actually sat down and watched a 60-minute Playstation 4 version of the Super Bowl.

Don't feel bad for me, though, because it was still -- by far -- the best of the two football games I watched Sunday. The other game was the Pro Bowl, by the way.

OK, onto the sim ...

First quarter

Score: Falcons 6, Patriots 0

The Falcons won the toss, took the ball and drove down the field by relying on Devonta Freeman. Their drive eventually stalled, so they settled for a 49-yard field goal. Matt Bryant drilled it, giving the Falcons a 3-0 lead. The Patriots punted on their first possession after Brady took a coverage sack near midfield, but they did at least pin the Falcons at the 2-yard line.

Again, the Falcons drove downfield. Again, Bryant drilled a long field goal -- this time from 55 yards. And the Falcons extended their lead to six points.

The first quarter ended with another Patriots punt. The "Madden" version of Belichick, also known as Marc Trestman Jr., didn't look fazed, though.

Second quarter

Score: Falcons 13, Patriots 6

It turns out Super Bowl LI was all about the kickers, not the quarterbacks.

Stephen Gostkowski connected on his own 50-yard field goal early in the second quarter to cut into the Falcons' lead. But after Matt Ryan hit Julio Jones at the 1-yard line for a huge gain, the Falcons scored the game's first touchdown via Freeman. Gostkowski hit another field goal just before halftime. So, the Patriots trailed by seven points.

Never count out Touchdown Tom, though ...

Third quarter

Score: Patriots 16, Falcons 13

Finally, the Patriots woke up, scoring 10 points in the third quarter. Brady found Julian Edelman for his first touchdown and Gostkowski kicked his third field goal after Lady Gaga's performance, which the game tragically skipped.

The Patriots took a 16-13 advantage into the final quarter.

Fourth quarter

Score: Patriots 30, Falcons 20

The Patriots began with the ball and the Falcons couldn't get the stop they needed, as Brady methodically hit his underneath targets on crossing patterns (see, "Madden" can be realistic). LeGarrette Blount plunged into the end zone from the 2-yard line to give the Patriots a 10-point fourth-quarter lead.

But the Falcons struck back. Freeman's 4-yard score cut the deficit down to three points with 9:10 remaining. The teams exchanged punts before Brady and Edelman hooked up for a 43-yard gain down to the 11-yard line. With just over two minutes remaining, the Falcons needed to hold the Patriots to a field goal to have a shot at a game-winning touchdown drive.

Brady hit Malcolm Mitchell to move the ball to the 4-yard line at the two-minute warning. That's when Brady nearly made the worst mistake of his career.

Yep, that's how close ex-Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn's current team was from picking off Brady in the end zone late in the fourth quarter of a Super Bowl, which would've been the ultimate payback for what happened a couple years back.

But on the next play, Brady found tight end Matt Lengel for the game-clinching touchdown. Who needs Gronk?

Throwing the ball with less than two minutes remaining in the Super Bowl -- which you're winning -- when you only need 3 yards to pick up a game-ending first down and 4 yards to score a game-ending touchdown is the most Patriots thing ever. And as a result, the Patriots won Super Bowl LI.


Brady took home his fourth Super Bowl MVP. He went 29 of 42 (a very nice 69 percent) for 294 yards, two touchdowns, zero interceptions and a 104.6 passer rating.

Blount and Edelman also could've won the award. Blount rushed for 137 yards on 28 carries, scoring one touchdown, while Edelman caught 10 passes for 115 yards and a score.

Meanwhile, the Falcons' offense struggled. Freeman rushed for 69 yards on 24 carries (he did score two close-range touchdowns) while Ryan failed to throw a touchdown. Jones showed up with 95 yards on seven receptions, but it wasn't enough.

The moral of the story: Never bet against Brady, Belichick and, of course, "Madden".