Tom Brady and the New England Patriots pulled off the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history to defeat Atlanta 34-28 in overtime Sunday night in Super Bowl LI in Houston.
After the Falcons went ahead 28-3 on league MVP Matt Ryan’s 6-yard touchdown pass to Tevin Coleman with 8:31 left in the third quarter, Brady led the Patriots on five consecutive scoring drives, including a 91-yard march that tied the game with 57 seconds left, forcing the first overtime in Super Bowl history.
James White’s game-winning, 2-yard touchdown run capped a 75-yard drive on the first possession of overtime to give the Patriots their fifth Super Bowl championship while denying the Falcons their first.
Here are six things you may have missed from the game:
Brady set Super Bowl records for completions (43), attempts (62) and yards (466) while throwing a pair of touchdown passes.
He comes the first quarterback to win five Super Bowls, and his four Super Bowl MVP awards also are a record.
White set record 14 receptions and 20 points as he ran for two touchdowns and a two-point conversion in addition to scoring the Patriots’ first touchdown on a 5-yard catch. His three touchdowns tied the record held by Jerry Rice (twice), Roger Craig, Ricky Watters and Terrell Davis.
The Patriots set a record for fourth-quarter points with 19. They also set a record with 93 offensive plays, which was more than twice the 46 Atlanta ran. Only the 44 Miami ran in Super Bowl VI were less.
Atlanta defensive tackle Grady Jarrett had three sacks to tie the record held by Reggie White, Darnell Dockett and Kony Ealy (L.C. Greenwood had four in Super Bowl X, which was before it was an official stat).
In addition to being the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history, it was the third largest in NFL postseason history during the Super Bowl era.
The largest was Buffalo’s 32-point comeback against Houston in a wild-card game Jan. 3, 1993. The second largest came when Indianapolis rallied from 28 down against Kansas City in a wild-card game Jan. 4, 2014.
After scoring back-to-back touchdowns in the second quarter to take a 14-0 lead, the Atlanta offense didn’t step on the field again for 68 minutes.
The Patriots had the ball for 12 plays and 6:27 before Atlanta cornerback Robert Alford returned a Brady interception 82 yards for a touchdown. New England’s next possession covered 12 plays and 2:19, ending with a Stephen Gostkowski 41-yard field goal with three seconds left in the quarter.
The 30-minute halftime followed before the Falcons received the second-half kickoff.
The game was scoreless after the first quarter marking just the fourth time in the last 25 Super Bowls that has been the case. And all four have involved the Patriots (Super Bowls 38, 39 and 49).
In fact, New England has not scored in the first quarter in all eight of Tom Brady’s Super Bowls.
The comeback was already underway, but New England linebacker Dont’a Hightower accelerated it with his fumble-forcing sack midway through the fourth quarter.
After the Patriots had closed to gap to 28-12, Atlanta was facing third and 1 at its own 36 when Hightower blitzed off the left edge, blew right past Falcons running back Devonta Freeman and hit Ryan just before he attempted to the throw the ball.
Defensive tackle Alan Branch fell on the fumble at the Falcons 25, and five plays later the Patriots made it a one-possession game when Brady hit Danny Amendola for a 6-yard touchdown and White ran in the two-point conversion.
Defensive end Trey Flowers’ sack on Ryan on the next series didn’t force a turnover, but it was just as big.
Atlanta had answered the Amendola score by driving to the New England 22, easily in range for a Matt Bryant field goal that would have pushed it back to a two-possession game.
But Flowers sacked Ryan for a 12-yard loss on second and 11, and on the next play Jake Matthews got flagged for holding Chris Long to push the Falcons out of field goal range and force a punt.
Brady and the Patriots took over at their own 9 with 3:30 left and drove for the game-tying touchdown and two-point conversion.