Super Bowl comes super-close
Falcons fall to Patriots.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady claimed his fifth Super Bowl championship Sunday night in a fashion beyond imagination, leading the Patriots’ historic comeback from a 25point deficit and lifting New England to a 34-28 victory in the first Super Bowl ever to reach overtime.
Having started the season on a fourgame suspension levied by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Brady ended it by stamping himself the greatest quarterback of all time without any legitimate doubt, kneeling on the NRG Stadium turf, his face in the ground, before coach Bill Belichick embraced him.
“You the (expletive) greatest,” Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount told Brady, pounding his chest.
No team has ever come back from more than 10 points to win the Super Bowl — until the New England Patriots. The Patriots needed the first overtime in Super Bowl history, after 50 Super Bowls without an extra period, but erased a 25-point third-quarter deficit to the Atlanta Falcons highlighted by a 91-yard, game-tying touchdown drive with less than a minute left in the fourth quarter to force overtime. New England’s James White scored the game-winning TD on a two-yard run.
Regulation ended in scary fashion. Dion Lewis, a running back with a history of leg injuries, rolled his right ankle and collapsed without anyone making contact with him. Lewis was running down the left sideline on a trick play — the Patriots faked a kneel down with three seconds left, but the play never threatened to result in a score.
Fittingly, the first-ever Super Bowl overtime was set up by one of the more incredible catches in its history. The Patriots have been the victims of miracle catches in the Super Bowl. In the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LI, one injected life into their attempt at a historic comeback.
Brady led the Patriots on a 91-yard touchdown drive which, combined with a two-point conversion, tied the game at 28 with less than a minute remaining, erasing the 25-point lead the Atlanta Falcons held deep into the third quarter.
The key play was magic, provided by Julian Edelman. With the ball, down 28-20, having already scored 17 consecutive points, Brady dropped back to pass and lofted a pass deep down the middle in the direction of Julian Edelman, whom the Falcons had surrounded with three defenders. After a deflection, Edelman dove, fully extended his arms and trapped the ball against a Falcons defender’s leg.
Atlanta challenged the call, but the ruling remained: It was a catch by Edelman, a 23-yard gain to the Atlanta 41, in a drive that started on the Patriots’ own 9.
The drive finished when James White plunged into the end zone, and Brady tied it with a swing screen pass to Danny Amendola for a two-point conversion.
Trailing by 16 in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LI, the reeling New England Patriots desperately needed a gamechanging play. They got exactly that — and promptly cashed in the opportunity to suddenly move within one possession of tying the score.
Linebacker Donta Hightower sacked and stripped the ball from Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan on third-and-long, smashing Ryan’s blindside after the Falcons botched a blocking assignment. Defensive tackle Alan Branch recovered at the Atlanta 25-yard line.
Five plays later, Brady found Danny Amendola for a touchdown. They added a two-point conversion on a direct snap to running back James White, pulling to 2820 with five minutes, 56 seconds left.
Patriots’ Julian Edelman makes a key 23-yard catch late in the fourth quarter surrounded by four Falcon defenders.
Tom Brady engineered an unprecedented comeback in the fourth quarter to force overtime in Super Bowl LI. At one point, the Patriots trailed 28-3, but didn’t give up.