By Alex Lefkowitz (Sports Editor).
In the largest comeback in Super Bowl history (25 point deficit), the New England Patriots defeated the Atlanta Falcons in overtime to win Super Bowl 51 and one for the thumb.
“There wasn’t a doubt in my mind. We have one of the best quarterbacks that ever played the game,” receiver Chris Hogan said.
Early in the game, the Falcons stifled New England by following the blueprints laid out by the 2007 and 2011 New York Giants: put pressure on Brady by rushing four and be physical with the receivers. Atlanta jumped out to a 28-3 lead with 8:31 to go in the third quarter before New England scored 31 unanswered points.
This comeback started with a quick five-yard strike to James White. Even after the tide seemed like it might turn, kicker Stephen Gostkowski clanked his extra point off the right upright. The Patriots held Atlanta, but settled for three on their next possession, making it a 16 point game with 10 minutes to spare. The number one ranked scoring defense held strong again, strip-sacking Matt Ryan inside the Atlanta 25. Another quick scoring drive capped off by an Amendola touchdown and two point conversion run by James White made it a 1 possession game with six minutes to spare.
This next Atlanta drive promised to be the dagger in the Pats season, but quickly turned into a drive plagued by questionable play calling. After Julio Jones came up with a circus reception at the Patriots 22, the Falcons just needed to kick a field goal to clinch the W. The Pats D pushed Atlanta back, forcing them to punt with just over three minutes to go.
Every Pats fan had seen this story before. Tom Brady leading a methodical drive late in a Super Bowl. He did just that. After Julian Edelman caught a ball off of a Falcons defender, the Patriots were in striking distance with two minutes left.
“I knew I caught it,” Edelman said.
On the next play, Brady found Amendola to put the Pats in the redzone. Three plays later, unsung hero James White burst into the endzone to make it a two point game. On the two point conversion, Danny Amendola muscled his way into the endzone to tie the Super Bowl with 57 seconds.
This game was also the first time the Super Bowl went into overtime. In overtime, the Patriots marched down the field and found themselves with a second and goal from the two. Every Pats fan remembers when the Seahawks threw the ball inside the one to lose Super Bowl 49 to the Pats. The Pats learned. James White sprinted to the edge and plowed his way into the endzone to win the Super Bowl.
Immediately following the play, Tom Brady burst into tears after dedicating this improbable victory to his ill mother.
“She’s the one I want to win it for,” Tom Brady told Westwood One before the game. “
“It’s kind of madness after the game, I didn’t get too much quality time,” Brady said after leading the Patriots, 34-28 overtime winners, to the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. “But we’ll get it this week and I was happy everybody was here. I had my wife, my parents, my sisters, my brothers-in-law and one of my sisters-in-law. A lot of friends and it was a full contingent of support.”
Because of the win, the Patriots shattered numerous records and ended many discussions on who the greatest (fill in the blank) of all time is. Tom Brady won his fifth ring and his fourth Super Bowl MVP. He also shattered the passing yards record with an incredible 466 yards. Bill Belichick won his fifth Super Bowl as a head coach.
“I’m proud to say, for the fifth time, we are all Patriots. Tonight for the fifth time, the Patriots are World Champions,” owner Robert Kraft said.