Su­per Bowl comes su­per-close

Fal­cons fall to Pa­tri­ots.

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - ADAM KILGORE AND LIZ CLARKE HOUSTON — The Wash­ing­ton Post

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.

EZRA SHAW, GETTY IM­AGES

Pa­tri­ots’ Ju­lian Edel­man makes a key 23-yard catch late in the fourth quar­ter sur­rounded by four Fal­con de­fend­ers.

EZRA SHAW, GETTY IM­AGES

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.

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