Brady etches name in history as Patriots complete greatest Super Bowl comeback

By Nicholas McGee 6 February 2017
Brady etches name in history as Patriots complete greatest Super Bowl comeback

Tom Brady and the New England Patriots secured their fifth NFL title in utterly remarkable fashion, producing the largest comeback in Super Bowl history to defeat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28.

Having blitzed their way through the postseason to Super Bowl LI, the Falcons - playing on this stage for the first time since 1999 - appeared in complete command as they surged to a 28-3 lead.

A Devonta Freeman rushing touchdown, a Matt Ryan pass to Austin Hooper and Robert Alford's pick-six of Brady had the Falcons seemingly in control, with Stephen Gostkowski's field goal all the Patriots had to show for their efforts at the half.

Tevin Coleman added to the Falcons' substantial advantage after the break, before Brady connected with James White with what at the time looked like being a consolation score. 

But, following another Gostkowski field goal, a fumble from league MVP Ryan tilted the momentum drastically in New England's favour.

Brady's touchdown throw to Danny Amendola and a two-point conversion pulled them within a possession and, after a bewilderingly brilliant catch from Julian Edelman, White crashed over from close range.

Amendola added the crucial second two-point conversion to set up the first overtime finish in Super Bowl history.

And Brady wasted no time in the extra period, leading a clutch drive to become the first quarterback to win five Super Bowl titles, White sneaking in on a toss to the right to complete the greatest comeback.

The fast start expected by both offenses failed to materialise as the first quarter ended scoreless, but the Falcons did not have to wait long for an opportunity in the second.

Rookie linebacker Deion Jones stripped running back LeGarrette Blount of the ball and the Falcons recovered, setting up Ryan and Julio Jones to demonstrate their rapport.

Ryan and Jones twice hooked up for first-down connections and, after a pair of impressive Freeman runs, it was the tailback who finished the drive by cutting back to his left and waltzing in.

New England could not muster a response on the subsequent drive and Ryan quickly punished them with a superb throw down the seam to Hooper to double Atlanta's advantage.

A succession of holding penalties looked to have the Patriots in position to halve the deficit, but Alford demonstrated outstanding instincts to jump a Brady pass intended for Amendola and streak 82 yards the other way.

Gostkowski did get the Patriots on the board before half-time but, after New England had failed to take advantage of a Falcons three-and-out to start the third quarter, Atlanta seemingly put the game beyond doubt.

Ryan hit Tyler Gabriel on a huge 35-yard throw and, aided by a pass interference penalty later in the drive, he capped off the drive with an easy completion to Coleman.

New England finally responded as Brady led the Patriots down the field and found White for a five-yard score, only for Gostkowski to miss the extra point.

Gostkowski added a field goal after a Patriots drive was stymied by a pair of Grady Jarrett sacks but Brady was not to be denied after a Dont'a Hightower sack forced a Ryan fumble.

Brady went four-for-four on the subsequent drive, linking up with Amendola to bring them within 10 before White dived in on a well-designed play fake for the two-point conversion.

Ryan appeared to have put the Falcons in position for a pivotal field goal - thanks mainly to a wonderful Jones catch - only for a holding penalty to end their progress.

That misdemeanour by Jake Matthews was punished in scarcely believable fashion, the game-tying drive marked by Edelman plucking the ball whiskers from the turf after Alford had tipped it up in the air.

Brady then hit Amendola and White twice before the latter crashed over. Amendola was then on the receiving end of a short Brady pass to knot things up on the two-point try.

A victorious Patriots coin toss had rarely seemed so decisive and Brady delivered a drive fitting of his glorious career and the greatest quarterback of all time, which – after White snuck in the decisive score – few will argue that he is.

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Nicholas McGee

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