Biggest Comeback in Super Bowl History
Here are the highlights of the historical Falcons and Patriots Super Bowl LI game. Heading into the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LI, the Atlanta Falcons were just 15 minutes away from pulling off one of the most improbable Super Bowl wins in recent memory. But by the end of the fourth quarter, the Falcons ended up being just minutes away from the biggest collapse in Super Bowl history.
Trailing 28-9 at the start of the fourth quarter, the New England Patriots scored 19 unanswered points in the final period of Super Bowl LI, sending the game into the first-ever overtime period in Super Bowl history. The Patriots won the coin toss in overtime, elected to receive the football, and ended the game eight plays later with a two-yard touchdown run by James White, sealing their Super Bowl LI win.
With 6:04 remaining in the third quarter, the Patriots actually trailed the Falcons by a 28-3 score. The 25-point comeback by New England is easily the largest deficit that a team has overcome to win a Super Bowl in league history.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady finished the game completing 43 of 62 passing attempts for 466 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception on Sunday, earning him the game’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award. That was Brady’s fourth MVP selection, surpassing the great Joe Montana for the most Super Bowl MVP awards by any player in NFL history. Brady’s total attempts, completions, and passing yards all set new Super Bowl records.
First Half Falcons Led 21-3
After a scoreless first quarter, the proverbial floodgates seemed to burst open in Atlanta’s favor. The Falcons scored touchdowns on their first two drives of the quarter, going 133 total yards in only ten plays. Running back Devonta Freeman broke the scoring open with a five yard touchdown run, and then quarterback Matt Ryan threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to rookie tight end Austin Hooper on the second drive. Then, down 14-0, Brady threw an interception on the Patriots ensuing drive which was returned 82 yards for a touchdown by Falcons cornerback Robert Alford, giving Atlanta a seemingly commanding 21-0 lead with only 2:21 left in the first half. Despite possessing the ball for only 10 minutes and 25 seconds in the first half, the Falcons went into halftime with a 21-3 lead.
Second Half Patriot’s 25 Point Comeback
After both teams traded three-and-outs to start the second half, Atlanta extended their lead to 28-3 after Matt Ryan threw a six-yard touchdown pass to running back Tevin Coleman. But from that point forward, New England scored points on five of their next six drives; the only drive they didn’t score points on was when they knelt on the ball with only three second left in regulation, to send the game to overtime.
The Patriots finished drive spanning 75 yards on 13 plays with a five yard touchdown pass from Brady to White. That cut the lead to 28-9, after kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed the extra point.
On the Patriots next drive, Gostkowski hit a 33-yard field goal, cutting the lead to 28-12. When the Falcons got the ball back, one of the key plays that changed the entire game took place. Patriot’s linebacker, Donta Hightowe, sacked Ryan and stripped him of the football, which New England defensive lineman, Alan Branch, recovered at the Falcons 25-yard line.
Five plays later, Brady threw a touchdown pass to wide receiver Danny Amendola, and White ran in the two-point conversion, making the score 28-20. The Falcons actually responded with a drive that seemingly would’ve put the game away. They got deep into New England territory — as far as Patriots’ 22-yard line — but were then pushed back 23 yards, and out of field goal range, thanks to a sack and a holding penalty. That forced them to punt the football to New England, giving the Patriots the football back with 3:30 left in the game.
Even after getting the ball back on their own nine-yard line, the Patriots methodically went the distance of the field on only 10 plays. White ran in the touchdown to end the drive from one yard out, and then Brady completed the two-point conversion via a pass to Amendola, to tie the game at 28.
New England won the coin toss in overtime, and elected to receive the football. Once they got the ball, it was basically time to warm up the proverbial fat lady for Atlanta.
Regardless of all the recent controversies surrounding Brady, head coach Bill Belichick, and the New England Patriots organization as a whole, it appears that the legacy of all three is now cemented. Brady should go down as the greatest quarterback of all time. Belichick should go down as the most successful head coach of all time. This Patriots dynasty, spanning from 2001 ’til today, should go down as the greatest NFL dynasty of all time.
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