Grant Benefield, Staff Reporter
In a whirlwind second half comeback, the New England Patriots defeated the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in Super Bowl LI.
After going down 28-3 in the third quarter, the Patriots smashed the record for largest comeback in Super Bowl history, overcoming a 25-point deficit.
The previous record was just 10 and was achieved three times: the Redskins in Super Bowl XXII, the Saints in Super Bowl XLIV, and most recently, the Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX.
The Patriots’ victory also came in the first overtime in Super Bowl history, with both teams tied at 28-28 at the end of regulation.
The first half of play was completely one-sided, with Atlanta going into halftime up 21-3.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Falcons struck first on a 5-yard rush by running back Devonta Freeman.
Kicker Matt Bryant converted four of four PAT attempts during the game. Freeman would go on to finish the game with 75 yards on 11 carries.
The score was set up by a forced fumble by Falcon linebacker Deion Jones.
The Falcons would score again, this time on a 19-yard pass from QB Matt Ryan to tight end Austin Hooper.
On Saturday, Ryan was named 2016 NFL MVP and Offensive Player of the Year.
He would finish the game with 284 yards on 17-for-23 passing.
Next, the Falcon defense joined in on the scoring.
Corner Robert Alford intercepted a Tom Brady pass and returned it for the score.
The Patriots would get on the board as time expired in the first half with a 41-yard field goal from Stephen Gostkowski.
The Falcons added to their lead in the third quarter with another TD pass by Ryan, this time to running back Tevin Coleman.
Bryant’s PAT extended the Falcon lead to a game-high of 28-3.
Then, the New England comeback began.
The Pats scored their first touchdown of the game in the third quarter on a pass from Patriot QB Tom Brady to running back James White. Gostkowski missed the ensuing PAT, making the score 28-9.
Next, Gostkowski would connect on a 33-yard FG attempt to make the score 28 -12 early in the fourth quarter.
Another Brady touchdown pass, this time to receiver Danny Amendola, would make the score 28-18.
Needing a 2-point conversion, the Pats would opt for a little bit of trickery, direct snapping the ball to White who would carry it in for the conversion.
After another defensive stop, New England would make their final drive to tie the game, ending on another touchdown rush from White. Needing yet another 2-point conversion, Brady would find Amendola in the flat, who would dive into the end zone for the conversion. Tie game.
The Falcons would get one last opportunity with one minute left to play, but they would fail to move the ball, ending regulation and sending the game into the first ever overtime in Super Bowl history.
The Patriots won the toss and elected to receive the ball to start OT.
With the comeback nearly complete and the victory within reach, Brady led the Patriots down the field to the Falcon goal line, where White would take the ball in from two yards out to give the Patriots the 34- 28 win.
White would finish the game with 29 rushing yards on 6 carries and 110 receiving yards on 14 receptions.
Brady broke the record for passing yards in a Super Bowl with 466 yards on 43-for-62 passing. The previous record was 414 yards by Kurt Warner in Super Bowl XXXIV.
With the victory, Brady also broke the record for most Super Bowl titles by a quarterback with 5. He is now tied with Charles Haley for most Super Bowls won as a player. Haley won three Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers and two with the Dallas Cowboys.