Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are Super Bowl champions.
Brady earned his fifth Super Bowl ring, the most ever by a quarterback in the NFL, by leading a dramatic second half comeback to beat the Atlanta Falcons in overtime, 34-28.
Super Bowl LI will go down as one of the greatest games in NFL history due in part to a red-hot first half from the Atlanta offense and the ferocious second half comeback by New England.
Atlanta’s offense got off to a fast start as RB Devonta Freeman broke off a 37-yard run on the Falcons’ first play from scrimmage.
While the Falcons’ first drive eventually stalled out, they still managed to strike first when Freeman reached the end zone from 5 yards out with 12:15 remaining in the second quarter.
Following a Patriots punt, Atlanta found the endzone again when NFL MVP Matt Ryan hooked up with rookie Austin Hooper for a 19-yard touchdown pass. The ensuing extra point by Matt Bryant gave the Falcons a 14-0 lead.
New England appeared to regain some momentum when they drove down to the Atlanta 23-yard line near the end of the first half, but the Falcons regained control of the game with one of the most shocking plays of the game.
Brady tried to hit WR Danny Amendola across the middle for a short gain when Falcons DB Robert Alford jumped the route and returned an interception 82 yards for a touchdown to give the Falcons a commanding 21-0 lead.
Brady and the Patriots offense responded with a quick drive and they got on the board on a 41-yard field goal from Stephen Gostkowski with just seconds remaining in the half.
After both teams traded three and outs to open the second half, the Falcons marched down the field and capped off their drive with another touchdown when Ryan, who threw for 284 yards, threw his second touchdown of the game when he connected with RB Tevin Coleman from six yards out.
The ensuing extra point from Bryant gave the Falcons a 28-3 lead with 8:31 left in the third quarter, and Falcons Super Bowl Champions merchandise began to hit some shelves in Atlanta-area sporting goods stores as the game looked all but over.
But then greatness happened.
The Coleman touchdown catch would be the Falcons final points as Brady and the Patriots offense relentlessly marched up and down the field and the Patriots defense played like the top 3 unit they were all season long.
Brady connected with RB James White, who set a Super Bowl record with 16 catches, for a 5-yard touchdown late in the third quarter, but Gostkowski would miss the extra point so the score remained 28-9.
Following a Falcons punt, a strong Patriots drive stalled out as they were forced to settle for another Gostkowski field goal, making the score 28-12.
One of the biggest plays of the game ensued on the following Falcons possession. On third and 1, LB Dont’a Hightower sacked Ryan and forced a fumble, which New England would recover deep in Atlanta territory.
Brady quickly found Amendola for a 6-yard touchdown pass, and the ensuing two-point conversion by White would get the Patriots within one possession, 28-20. Ryan quickly connected with Freeman for 39 yards which was followed by a spectacular throw and catch by Ryan and WR Julio Jones for 22 more yards.
It appeared Atlanta would then make a short field goal to clinch the Super Bowl, but Ryan would be sacked for a loss of 12 and a holding penalty on third down would take them out of field goal range.
With 3:00 left in the game, Brady calmly marched the Patriots offense down the field, aided in part due to a spectacular catch on a tipped pass by WR Julian Edelman.
With 1:00 left in the game, White would rumble in for a 1 yard touchdown run, and then Brady would hit Amendola on a screen pass to cap off the 25-point comeback and tie the game.
Atlanta was unable to do anything in the final minute, which sent the game to overtime, making Super Bowl LI the first Super Bowl to ever need overtime.
New England got the ball first in overtime and Brady hit his first 5 passes in overtime to the Patriots in the redzone. Following a pass interference penalty and an incompletion, White would cap off his incredible performance with a two yard “walk-off” touchdown run to clinch New England’s fifth Super Bowl title.
Brady earned his fourth Super Bowl MVP, passing Joe Montana for the most all time, by throwing for 466 yards, a Super Bowl record. Head coach Bill Belichick won his fifth Super Bowl title, giving him the most Super Bowl wins as a head coach in NFL history.
Brady became only the second player in NFL history to win five Super Bowls, officially making him the greatest quarterback in NFL history in the eyes of many.
The Patriots became only the third NFL team with five Super Bowl wins, joining the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys, and they now only trail the Pittsburgh Steelers (six Super Bowl victories) for the most ever.