Super Bowl LI: New England Patriots recover from record deficit to beat Atlanta Falcons
The New England Patriots produced the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history to beat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime and claim a fifth title in the most dramatic of circumstances.
The Patriots trailed by 25 points in the third quarter but recovered to level at 28-28 and force the extra period – the first in Super Bowl history.
Quarterback Tom Brady led the recovery, finishing with a record 466 yards en route to being named the Super Bowl’s Most Valuable Player for a fourth time.
The turnaround was completed when James White scored on a two-yard run – taking his personal haul for the game to 20 points.
The previous biggest deficit overcome by the eventual Super Bowl champions was 10 points, a record emphatically shattered by the Patriots on an incredible night at Houston’s NRG Stadium, which also featured a spectacular half-time show by Lady Gaga.
The singer opened her set with Woody Guthrie’s civil rights anthem This Land Is Your Land, “a gentle but pointed rebuke to the Trump administration”, BBC Music reporter Mark Savage says.
Notable statistics from the game included:
- Tom Brady becoming the first quarterback to win five Super Bowl rings – and just the second player in history along with Charles Haley
- Brady breaking his own Super Bowl record with 43 pass completions
- Brady also becoming the first player to win four Super Bowl MVPs, on a record seventh appearance in the game
- Brady’s 466 passing yards surpassing the previous record of 414 set by Kurt Warner in Super Bowl XXXIV
- James White finishing with 14 receptions, the most by any player ever in the Super Bowl. His 20 points is also a record
- New England’s Bill Belichick setting a new record for Super Bowl games as head coach (seven) and wins (five)
- The Patriots scoring 19 unanswered points in the fourth quarter – including a pair of two-point conversions
Brady, 39, admitted afterwards the outcome could have been very different had any part of the Patriots team not done its job.
A key moment came with the Patriots trailing 28-20 with 2:28 remaining in the final quarter when Julian Edelman made a miraculous catch for a first down, somehow grabbing the ball under pressure from three opponents after it was tipped into the air by Falcons cornerback Robert Alford. “I couldn’t believe the Edelman catch, it was one of the greatest catches. I don’t think he knows how he caught it. We’ve been on the end of a few of those, it was spectacular,” Brady said.
“It’s going to be a great celebration tonight. Thanks to everyone back in Boston, we love you, we’re bringing this sucker home!”
He added: “That was exactly the way we didn’t plan it. It was a hell of a football game.
“This is an incredible team and I’m just happy to be a part of it. We overcame a lot of different things and it’s all worth it.”
“To be 28-3 down, it was a lot of mental toughness from our team and we’re all going to remember this for the rest of our life.”
Tom Brady – greatest of all time?
Much of the talk before the game centred on whether Brady could become the first quarterback to win five Super Bowls, but such thoughts were swiftly pushed to one side once the game began as the veteran struggled to find a rhythm.
The first quarter whipped by with hardly any stoppages and no points scored, both defences on top, but come the second quarter the momentum shifted emphatically in favour of Atlanta, who boasted the best regular-season offense and, in quarterback Matt Ryan, the NFL’s MVP.
Atlanta went ahead when Devonta Freeman capped an impressive half by rushing for a touchdown, while Ryan connected with Austin Hooper for the second a short time later.