Armando Salguero

New England Patriots made of steel — or whatever Super Bowl trophies are made of

New England Patriots players celebrate after the NFL Super Bowl 51 football game against the Atlanta Falcons Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017, in Houston.
New England Patriots players celebrate after the NFL Super Bowl 51 football game against the Atlanta Falcons Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017, in Houston. AP

This isn’t right. This isn’t fair.

How do you compete with stuff like this?

The New England Patriots, beaten, busted, disgusted for 59 minutes of Super Bowl LI decided that they would not go quietly into this night.

They decided that America, about 75 percent of which wanted them to lose according to polls actually done on the topic, would have to wait another year to see the decline of the NFL’s greatest sports dynasty.

Down 28-3, the Patriots scored 25 unanswered points in loud, shocking, breakneck fashion, leaving the Atlanta Falcons and their fans and all of us, really, in disbelief as they sent this game into overtime.

And then, as if working off a script, the Patriots took the ball in overtime and marched for a game-winning and historic touchdown.

So, yeah, the Patriots scored 31 unanswered points.

“It just was an avalanche,” quarterback Tom Brady said.

Patriots 34.

Falcons 28.

“I want to say to our fans, our amazing coaching staff, our players, this is unequivocally the sweetest,” team owner Robert Kraft said.

And I have to ask, how do you fight stuff like this?

You’re Adam Gase in Miami or Todd Bowles in New York or the nameless rookie head coach in Buffalo and you have to compete with ... with ... this?

With Brady breaking the Super Bowl record for completions (43) and passing yards (466).

With Brady, at age 39, gaining 15 yards for his team’s longest run of the day.

With Belichick’s defense looking like a turnstile for three quarters and then shutting down the Falcons’ record-breaking offense in the fourth quarter and overtime.

How do you compete with this?

How does the AFC East, one of the weakest divisions in the NFL the past decade save for New England, rise up and cage this raging, roaring lion — the king of all NFL championship beasts.

The Patriots played their seventh Super Bowl in the Brady-Belichick era Sunday evening. They have won five of those following this overtime victory.

The only reason they didn’t win all seven is because the New York Giants brought ridiculous, improbable, freakish catches to their Super Sundays to save them each time they beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl.

So that’s the formula?

Get lucky?

That’s how you beat the Patriots?

Before Sunday, it was thought, the way to beat New England in the postseason is to make Brady more worried about surviving than winning. Pressure him. Sack him. He’ll lose.

The Falcons did this. They sacked Brady five times Sunday.

And they lost.

The Patriots won this game with Danny Amendola and Chris Hogan playing receiver. Martellus Bennett was their tight end. LaGarrette Blount was their starting running back.

All those guys are castoffs and retreads from other teams.

All of them.

The Patriots won this game with their offensive line playing terribly.

The Patriots won this game with their defense taking the first three quarters off.

The Patriots won this game with injured tight end Rob Gronkowski, perhaps their only great offensive player still in his prime, on the injured reserve list.

How do teams that struggle to break .500 compete with that?

It’s depressing. It really is.

This year was supposed to be the season teams caught up to the Patriots.

Brady was suspended the first month of the season and the Patriots would have to resort to Jimmy Garoppolo to play quarterback for them even though he had really no serious experience as a starter.

Well, Garoppolo was 2-0 as a starter and then he got injured.

And then the freakin’, frackin’ Patriots went to their third-stringer and he got injured as well, but they still managed to finish 3-1 during the Brady suspension.

How do the Bills, Dolphins and Jets hope to contend with that? Match that?

The rest of the NFL hasn’t figured it out the past 16 seasons while the Brady-Belichick train has steamrolled through the league.

Spygate didn’t stop them.

Deflategate didn’t stop them.

Players leaving or retiring didn’t stop them. Coaches going elsewhere for promotions didn’t stop them.

Nothing has stopped them.

You know what that has made the Patriots for nearly two decades? Unstoppable.

It’s depressing if you’re a Bills, Dolphins or Jets fan.

It’s also something to be kind of sort of admired.

This team is seemingly made of steel — or whatever it is those five Super Bowl trophies are made of.

Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

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