The largest deficit any team had previously faced in a Super Bowl and overcame it to come away with the Vince Lombardi trophy was 10 points, in which the New England Patriots (Super Bowl XLIX) just happen to be one of the three teams to ever complete the feat. The other two being the New Orleans Saints (Super Bowl XLIV) and Washington Redskins (XXII). Super Bowl LI has them all beat, now thanks to Tom Brady.
Well, you can add a new record to the books on biggest comebacks in Super Bowl history and it now belongs to Bill Belichick and crew, as Brady engineered an improbable turnaround after falling behind 28-3 with 8:31 left in the third quarter. From there, the Patriots dominated the rest of the contest as Brady led three second half touchdown drives and eventually the go-ahead score in overtime to lift New England to its fifth Super Bowl victory in the Belichick-Brady era. The game became the first ever to go into overtime in Super Bowl history. Brady was named the game’s Most Valuable Player and completed 43 of 62 passes for 466 yards and two touchdown passes. New England running back James White scored the game-winning touchdown in overtime.
The Falcons will look back at the Super Bowl LI loss as one with many missed opportunities and timely miscues. From mistakes made on special teams to turnovers in the second half, Atlanta wasn’t able to make the necessary plays down the stretch to help lift the Falcons to their first world championship in team history. Instead, they’ll return to Georgia wondering what could’ve been and adding to Atlanta’s misery is offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is likely in the coming days, to accept an offer by the San Francisco 49ers to become its head coach and fill the NFL’s final head coaching vacancy.
There wasn’t much the opening quarter of play could do to tell us how Super Bowl LI would turn out, as New England and Atlanta both stalled on drives and weren’t able to put points on the board. Atlanta would be the first team to score, with running back Devonta Freeman capping a 5-play, 71-yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter. It wouldn’t be too much long later that the Falcons would find themselves in the endzone once again, with quarterback Matt Ryan (17 of 23, 284 yards) finding tight end Austin Hooper on a 19-yard pass play and giving Atlanta a surprising 14-0 lead. Despite Brady winning the MVP trophy, he wasn’t entirely perfect on the evening. One of Brady’s rare mistakes happened just before halftime when cornerback Robert Alford picked off the 4-time Super Bowl MVP and returned it 82 yards to give the Falcons a 21-0 advantage.
Ladies and gentlemen, @JulioJones_11.
— NFL (@NFL) February 6, 2017
New England didn’t exit the first half without putting points on the board, with Stephen Gostkowski knocking home a 41-yard field goal heading into intermission. For everyone who was thinking the Patriots would open up the second half with points on the board immediately would come away wrong. It ended up being Atlanta putting more points on the board, as the Falcons tagged on a fourth touchdown on a Ryan to Tevin Coleman connection. The 28-3 lead seemed like more than a tall task to overcome for even the Super Bowl experienced Patriots, but never underestimate the heart of a champion.
— NFL (@NFL) February 6, 2017
Brady went to work late in the third quarter and hit White on a 5-yard touchdown pass and after a missed extra point, left the Patriots down 28-9. New England was able to make it a 2-possession game early in the fourth quarter after a 33-yard field goal by Gostkowski. The Patriots’ defense jumped on the very opportunity it needed in the fourth quarter when Ryan was sacked and fumbled the ball away with nine minutes to go, giving New England the ball on Atlanta’s 25-yard line. Brady drove the Patriots down and eventually hitting Danny Amendola on a 6-yard touchdown pass. The game tying drive started on New England’s own 9-yard line and 10 plays later would end on a White 1-yard touchdown run, with Brady connecting with Amendola sneaking in for the important 2-point conversion to tie the game up at 28-all.
Super Bowl LI would not see both teams touch the ball in extra time, as New England won the toss and would go ahead later on and win the game. Brady dissected the Falcons’ defense and White capped the come-from-behind victory with the all important scoring run into the end zone.