Once upon a time in Super Bowl LI in Houston, so much of the worldwide public saw a Super Bowl blowout coming. The New England Patriots were down 28-3 as late as near the 6:30 mark of the third quarter. But once again, the whole world saw that you don’t EVER count out TOM BRADY as a comeback artist or head coach BILL BELICHICK’s game-planning acumen. Dealing with Brady (today’s MVP) can be as dangerous as trying to fight a gas-fire.
Brady who went 43 for 62 for 466 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception today, fought off first half frustration and a 25-point deficit to help lead the Patriots to a 34-28 Overtime win for their fifth Super Bowl title in franchise history. Also with this win, Brady is now the all-time leader in Super Bowl wins by a quarterback in NFL history with five. He beat the record of NFL legends JOE MONTANA and TERRY BRADSHAW who each had four Super Bowl titles in each of their careers.
Even though Brady won today’s MVP, it wasn’t all about him. Players like running back JAMES WHITE came through with three scores (2 rushing and 1 receiving) including the game-winning score in the overtime period. White put together 139 yards total offense as he picked up the slack for first and second running backs LEGARRETTE BLOUNT and DION LEWIS who both had quiet games today.
Then there was receiver DANNY AMENDOLA (8 catches for 78 yards, and 1 score), whose late fourth quarter two-point conversion catch provided the jump off point the Patriots needed to come back and win this game.
This game was a heartbreaker for the Falcons. Quarterback MATT RYAN (17 of 23 for 284 yards and 2 scoring passes) was on his way to a Super Bowl MVP performance, but that road was blocked by the Patriots pass rush which included two key sacks by outside linebackers DONT’A HIGHTOWER and KYLE VAN NOY late in the game.
The Falcons took advantage of the Patriots’ early second quarter fumble, by going on a 5-play, 71 yard drive that was culminated by an off left tackle 5-yard scoring run by running back DEVONTA FREEMAN (11 carries for 75 yards and 1 score). That scoring run gave the Falcons a 7-0 lead at the 12:15 mark of the second quarter.
The Falcons added to their lead, when rookie tight end AUSTIN HOOPER beat Patriots strong safety PATRICK CHUNG for a back of the end zone 19-yard score. At the 8:48 mark of the second quarter the Falcons had a 14-0 lead.
Then the Falcons really got the Patriots scared, when cornerback ROBERT ALFORD intercepted a Brady pass and took the theft 82 yards untouched down the right side for a score. At the 2:21 mark of the second quarter, the Falcons took a commanding 21-0 lead.
Patriots kicker STEPHEN GOSTKOWSKI gave his team their only points on the first half, a successful 41-yard field goal that cut the Falcons’ lead to 21-3 at the two-second mark of the second quarter.
When the Falcons scored their fourth touchdown of the game, which was a 6-yard TEVIN COLEMAN touchdown reception in which the running back beat Patriots linebacker ROB NINKOVICH to the right corner of the end zone. Coleman’s touchdown catch gave Atlanta a 28-3 lead at the 8:31 mark of the third quarter.
The Patriots late in the third quarter made sure they did their part to get back into this game. White took a Brady pass near the left sideline. White then maneuvered his way forward and eventually got himself into the end zone for a 5-yard scoring pass and an eventual 28-9 score at the 2:06 mark of the third quarter.
Amendola, who was very underused (2 catches for 12 yards and no score) in the previous two playoff games leading up to today’ s Super Bowl, scored the Patriots’ most important points of this game. He got behind Falcons cornerback JALEN COLLINS for a left corner of the end zone 6-yard scoring reception. The subsequent and successful two-point conversion run by White cut Atlanta’s lead to 28-20 at the 5:56 mark of the fourth period.
But the Patriots as they have been apt to do in the Brady era, found a way to rally. Super late in the last quarter, White carried the ball 1-yard up the middle and into the end zone. Amendola then added a gritty 2-point conversion reception to tie the game at 28-28 with 37 seconds left in the contest.
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