The Simpsons made a sneaky update to an October episode for a re-run on Sunday in order to reference the Patriots comeback win over the Falcons in the Super Bowl.
In the “Boston” episode from Season 28 that was first released in October, the Springfield Atoms lost to the Boston Americans (which looked like members of the New England Patriots) 23-21. This is what it looked like in the original airing.
However, in Sunday’s re-run, the creators snuck in a reference to the Super Bowl by changing the score to New England 34, Atlanta 28.
It’s a subtle nod to the Patriots improbable comeback win against the Falcons in Super Bowl LI, and one that even the creators know makes no actual sense. They just found it funny.
“It was pure self-indulgence on our part,” Simpsons executive producer Matt Selman told Entertainment Weekly. “The Boston show was re-running the week after the Super Bowl, and [executive producer] Al Jean had the idea to just sneak in a non-sequitur freeze-frame joke. Jamming the Super Bowl teams and score into one shot makes no sense in the show, but we couldn’t resist. One-time only — never to be seen again!”
Selman also told Entertainment Weekly that they’re willing to continue dropping in “re-run easter eggs” when the opportunity presents itself. In this case, having an episode with The Simpsons amalgamation of the Patriots playing a game and there being a scoreboard made it too easy to pass up dropping in a Super Bowl reference.