Richard Mackson/USA Today Sports
What a game! The Atlanta Falcons came storming out of the gate in the first half of Super Bowl LI in Houston, Texas on Sunday night. They jumped out to an early 21-0 lead and led at halftime 21-3. But it was a tale of two halves, as the Falcons fell apart and paved the way for a Tom Brady comeback. The New England Patriots won the game in overtime, 34-28. This gave them their fifth championship in franchise history, all courtesy of coach Bill Belichick and Brady.
The Falcons were firing on all cylinders in the first half of the Super Bowl. Their offense was explosive and their defense was all over Brady, making him look uncomfortable as they knocked him down numerous times.
After a rushing touchdown from Devonta Freeman and a receiving touchdown from quarterback Matt Ryan to tight-end Austin Hooper, the Falcons led the Patriots 14-0 with 8:48 left in the first quarter.
New England got the ball back with a chance to trim their 14-point deficit before halftime. The drive looked promising as the Patriots were able to get down to the redzone with a little less than three minutes to go in the second quarter.
That was when Brady threw a pass to his left, intended for receiver Danny Amendola. Falcons’ cornerback Robert Alford read the play perfectly, though, and jumped right in front of Amendola and took Brady’s pass the other way for a pick-six. An extra point from kicker Matt Bosher pushed Atlanta’s lead to 21-0.
New England was able to drive down the field in the last two minutes of the first half and get themselves on the board with a field goal. They trailed at the half 21-3.
No team in NFL history had come back from a 14-point Super Bowl deficit, let alone an 18-point deficit. This New England team had something none of those teams from the past had, though. That is a four-time Super Bowl champion quarterback with a flare for the dramatic. The Patriots did in Brady.
The Falcons struck first in the second half with a pass from Ryan to running back Tevin Coleman. This stretched Atlanta’s lead over New England to 25 points with 23 minutes left in the game.
Brady and the Patriots responded, however. On their next possession, they drove down the field for their first touchdown of the game. The New England defense then stepped up and got a quick three-and-out to give the Patriots the ball back. Brady drove his team down the field once again, but only got a field goal out of it. The game was now 28-12 with a little over nine minutes to play.
After another defensive stop by the Patriots, Brady led a quick 3-minute drive resulting in a touchdown and a successful two point conversion. The Patriots suddenly trimmed their 25-point deficit to just 8 with 5:56 left in the game.
Once again, the Patriots defense stepped up and forced Atlanta to punt the ball wih 3:50 left in the fourth quarter. This gave Brady the opportunity to tie the game and force overtime. He did just that.
Brady was like a surgeon, cutting up and finding holes in Atlanta’s defense. He got his team all the way down to the 1-yard line with a minute left in regulation. That’s when he handed the ball off to running back James White who then shoved his way into the endzone. Brady then took care of the two-point conversion, completing a pass to Amendola.
The Super Bowl was suddenly tied at 28 with 50 seconds left in the game. Atlanta did nothing with the remaining time and the game went to overtime. The first overtime in Super Bowl history.
The Patriots won the overtime coin toss and elected to receive, putting the ball in Brady’s hand with a chance to win his fifth championship.
Brady was, again, surgeon-like in overtime. He completed his first five passes in the extra period. This got the Patriots all the way down to the 15-yard line. A defensive pass interference call on the Falcons moved the ball all the way down to the 2-yard line. Two plays later, Brady handed the ball off to White and he took care of the rest. White maneuvered his way into the corner of the endzone. The touchdown gave the Patriots the 34-28 overtime victory in Super Bowl LI.
The victory gave Belichick, Brady, and the Patriots their fifth championship in 16 years. Brady completed 43 of his 62 passes and racked up 466 passing yards to go along with two passing touchdowns. This performance earned him his fourth Super Bowl MVP award.
The NFL season has now officially come to an end but people are already looking forward to next year. The New England Patriots are the early favorites to win next year’s Super Bowl, and with Brady on their side, it’s hard to bet against them.