The New England Patriots made history Sunday, pulling off the biggest Super Bowl comeback to beat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in the first Super Bowl ever to go to overtime.
Super Bowl LI started as a defensive struggle that was scoreless after the first quarter, but the Falcons then broke through with 21 second-quarter points to take a 21-3 lead over the Patriots into the half. That seemed awfully safe, as no team had ever come back from a deficit of more than 10 points in the Super Bowl before. Atlanta extended that lead to 28-3 in the third quarter and was up 28-9 going into the final frame, and victory seemed almost assured.
New England’s offense then woke up, though, with the help of a costly turnover. The Patriots scored eleven straight and make it a one-possession game with just under six minutes left. The Falcons then managed an impressive drive of their own, including an incredible catch from Julio Jones, but a sack and an offensive holding call meant they had to punt, leaving it up to their defense to try and close this out with 3:30 left on the clock.
Atlanta managed to shut down the Patriots on their first two passes, but Tom Brady hit Chris Hogan on third down to move the chains. Brady’s next pass, for Julian Edelman, fell incomplete, but he hit Malcolm Mitchell for a first down, then found Edelman, who made an amazing highlight-reel catch with defenders all over him. Brady then hit Danny Amendola for 20 yards, James White for 13, and White again for seven, setting up a White goal-line plunge from the one. Brady then found Amendola on a short pass that got the two-point conversion (but just barely) and tied the game at 28. After New England stopped Atlanta on their next possession and their own final run didn’t too far, the game went into overtime.
The Patriots got the ball first in overtime, and they kept right on marching. An eight-play, 75-yard drive with five complete passes, an incomplete pass and a 10-yard run was capped off with a two-yard touchdown run from White:
This comeback made history on a couple of fronts. For one, it gave Brady his fifth Super Bowl ring, more than any quarterback in history. It also gave him his fourth Super Bowl MVP nod. More importantly, it showed that huge comebacks are possible in the Super Bowl too. You clearly can’t count the Patriots out, even when they’re down by 25 points.