By Greg Peterson, Sports Editor
Who would have thought that Super Bowl LI would have been the greatest football game of all time? Tom Brady and the New England Patriots orchestrated the greatest upset in Super Bowl history against the Atlanta Falcons, after coming back from a 25 point deficit.
The hype proceeding the big game was tremendous. The New England Patriots began their season with plenty of controversy, after NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Brady for the first four games of the season, following the Deflategate fiasco from the 2015 season. The Pats went 3-1 during Brady’s suspension, and 39-year-old Brady went 11-1 after he was reinstated by the NFL.
The Atlanta Falcons came into the Super Bowl with a dynamic offense, led by quarterback and MVP Matt Ryan and superstar receiver Julio Jones. The Falcons had the number one scoring offense in the league, averaging 33.8 points per game. They also averaged the second most yards per game, with an impressive 415.8 yards per game. This was the second time that the Falcons have reached the Super Bowl, with their last appearance almost 20 years ago in 1998.
Both teams got off to a sluggish start; neither the Falcons nor Patriots scored any points in the first quarter. Atlanta got on the scoreboard first, after putting together a 71-yard drive that was capitalized by a Devonta Freeman 5-yard touchdown rush with 12:15 left in the second quarter. The Patriots couldn’t respond, and after a quick 3-and-out, Ryan and the Falcons put up another touchdown with Ryan’s 19-yard pass to tight end Austin Hooper, making it a 14-0 game.
After receiving the kickoff, Brady and the Patriots were putting together a solid drive that went deep into Falcons territory, but Brady threw an interception into Atlanta’s red zone, which was returned 82 yards for a touchdown by Robert Alfred.
The Patriots got their first points with a Stephen Gostkowski 41-yard field goal with two seconds left in the first half and went into halftime trailing 21-3.
The Falcons entered the second half with their foot still on the gas pedal and scored a 6-yard touchdown with Ryan’s pass to Tevin Coleman, with about eight minutes left in the third quarter. It was at this time that odds makers bet the Falcons had a 99.8 percent chance of winning the game.
The Patriots offense started to come to life and responded back with a 13 play, 75-yard drive with Brady’s first touchdown pass to James White, with 2:06 left on the clock in the third quarter. On the ensuing possession, the Falcons were forced to punt. The Patriots started the fourth quarter with a field goal, making the game 28-12.
Matt Ryan was sacked and fumbled the football with 8:31 left in the fourth quarter, and the ball was recovered by New England. The Patriots turned the fumble into a touchdown, with Brady tossing another touchdown pass, this time to receiver Danny Amendola. The Pats converted on their 2-point conversion, making the game 28-20.
The Falcons were forced to punt again, and Brady and the Patriots put together a 91-yard touchdown drive with 2:33 remaining in the game that resulted with another Brady touchdown pass to James White with only 57 seconds left in the game. The Patriots connected on their 2-point conversion, and tied the game, 28-28.
This was the first time in Super Bowl history that a game went to overtime. The Patriots won the coin toss and put together a 75-yard drive that ended with a James White 2-yard rushing touchdown that finished the game, with the Patriots winning 34-28.
Tom Brady was named Super Bowl MVP after throwing for 466 yards (a Super Bowl Record). This was also the largest Super Bowl comeback of all time, with the previous record at a 10-point comeback.