New England Patriots win Super Bowl LI
Despite facing a 25-point deficit as late as the third quarter, Tom Brady and the Patriots pulled off arguably the most stunning comeback in Super Bowl history.
After a slow start that saw their defense unable to contain a lethal Atlanta running game, New England stormed back to force overtime and then win their fifth Super Bowl, 34-28. Brady, who threw for 466 yards and two touchdowns, garnered his fourth Super Bowl MVP Award.
Sunday was just the Falcons’ second Super Bowl appearance in their 51-year history, and they appeared poised to own it. Atlanta led for 59 minutes, and for 45 of those they were dominant. After a scoreless first quarter, the Falcons took advantage of a Patriots miscue to start the second. Atlanta CB Robert Alford recovered Jonathan Jones’s fumble, which led to a Falcons drive and eventually a touchdown from RB Davonta Freeman. Atlanta would pick up two more touchdowns in the quarter, including Alford’s 82-year return following a Brady interception.
The Patriots managed a field goal before the end of the half, but with the Falcons up 21-3 heading into the third quarter, it appeared the game was already over.
No one could have thought the game was just beginning in the third quarter.
Atlanta opened the scoring in the second half as well with QB Matt Ryan’s short pass to RB Tevin Coleman. With 8:31 left in the quarter, the Pats finally received their first touchdown of the night on Brady’s pass to James White. However, K Stephen Gostkowski missed the extra point attempt, leaving the score 28-9.
After missing an onside kick in the fourth quarter, New England’s defense got a quick stop to force a punt. With 9:44 left, they had to settle for a field goal, which Gostkowski hit, to make the score 28-12. As it was still a two-score game, the Patriots’ chances looked slim.
However, on the Falcon’s very next drive, Ryan let New England back into the game when he fumbled on 3rd-and-1, setting up a short field for the Patriots. Brady hit WR Danny Amendola for a 6-yard touchdown pass, and then a direct snap to RB James White on the two-point conversion cut Atlanta’s lead to 28-20 with under six minutes to go.
The Patriots then pulled off the unthinkable. They got the ball back and drove the length of the field on a drive highlighted by WR Julian Edelman’s miraculous catch. The drive concluded with a 1-yard touchdown run from White, and then New England converted on a two-point try again with a pass to Amendola, knotting it at 28-28 with a 0:57 on the clock.
New England won the coin toss in overtime and marched right past a gassed Atlanta defense. On 2nd-and-goal from the 2-yard line, White capped off the eight-play, 75-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown.
By rule, a team scoring a touchdown on the first possession of overtime wins; Atlanta never touched the ball.
Brady received his record fourth Super Bowl MVP and fifth ring, also a record. His performance helped cement his legacy as arguably the greatest quarterback in NFL history, and the Patriots’ overall performance proved that they are indeed the best team of this century.