Thanks to the greatest comeback ever in Super Bowl history, the New England Patriots were crowned NFL champions for a fifth-time Sunday night in Houston.
Training the Atlanta Falcons 28-3 with 8:31 left in the third quarter, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady started to bring his team back as he drove his offense 75 yards in 13 plays for his team’s first touchdown of the game.
After the Patriots defense then proceeded to force the Falcons offense to go three and out on their ensuing possession, Brady drove his offense 72 yards on 12 plays for a field goal to make it a two-possession game with 5:07 left in the fourth quarter. The Patriots defense then quickly got the football back thanks to linebacker Dont’a Hightower strip-sacking Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan on a 3rd and 1 play from the Atlanta 36-yard-line.
After the Patriots recovered the Ryan fumble at the Falcons’ 25-yard-line, Brady had the New England offense back in the end zone again in just five plays as he connected with wide receiver Danny Amendola from 6-yards out with 6:00 remaining in the fourth quarter. Patriots running back James White followed up that touchdown with a direct snap two-point conversion and New England trailed 28-20 with plenty of time in the game remaining.
The Falcons looked like they might right the ship on their ensuing possession as their offense managed to drive from their own 10-yard-line to the Patriots’ 22-yard-line in just three plays. That’s, however, when the Atlanta wheels really came off.
After Falcons running back Devonta Freeman was stuffed for a loss of a yard on first down from the Patriots’ 22-yard-line, the New England defense sacked Ryan for a loss of 12 yards on second down.
On the third down that would follow, it looked like the Falcons would be back in field goal range after Ryan connected with wide receiver Mohamed Sanu for a gain of 9 yards. That play, however, was wiped out by a holding call on Falcons left tackle Jake Matthews. Ryan then proceeded to fail to connect with wide receiver Taylor Gabriel on 3rd and 33 from the Patriots’ 45-yard-line and Atlanta was forced to punt with 3:38 left in the fourth quarter.
After getting the football back at their own 9-yard-line, Brady then proceeded to drive the Patriots’ offense 91 yards in 10 plays. After White capped the long drive with a 1-yard touchdown run, Brady connected with Amendola on the two-point conversion play and the game was then tied 28 all with a minute left in regulation.
After the Falcons ensuing offensive possession ended in just four plays, the Patriots got the football back once again with 3 seconds remaining in regulation but they failed to score with a last-ditch fake kneel-down play and the first overtime in Super Bowl history commenced.
After winning the ensuing overtime coin toss, the Patriots took over at their own 25-yard line following a touchback on the kickoff and Brady went to work one final time against a Falcons defense that was obviously out of gas.
Brady, who ended the game with a Super Bowl record 466 passing yards, connected on five consecutive pass attempts and moved the Patriots offense down to the Falcons 25-yard-line. After a 10-yard run by White, Brady failed to connect with tight end Martellus Bennett just short of the end zone. On the play, however, Falcons linebacker De’Vondre Campbell was called for pass interference and it set the Patriots offense up with a goal-to-go at that Falcons’ 2-yard-line.
After Brady failed to connect with Bennett in the end zone on first down, White scored on a run to the right to the Patriots a walk-off win and their fifth Super Bowl championship.
The Falcons had built their 21-3 first half lead with stellar defensive play as their front four harassed and hit Brady multiple times during the first 30 minutes of play. Of Atlanta’s 21 first half points, 14 came on the heels of turnovers as their defense forced Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount to fumble and cornerback Robert Alford returned a Brady interception 82 yards for another score
Ryan had a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3 in the first half after completing 7 of his 8 passes for 155 yards and a touchdown pass to tight end Austin Hooper that at the time gave the Falcons a 14-0 lead with 8:48 left in the first half.
Ryan, the 2016 NFL MVP, would go on to finish the game with 17 completions on 23 attempts for 284 yards and two touchdowns.