The first quarter of this contest proceeded in a fashion that we all expected - a scoreless game with very little offensive production. The second period began with Deion Jones forcing the day’s first turnover in the form of a LaGarrette Blount fumble. The Jones Domination Tour continued with two explosive receptions to Julio before Devonta Freeman created the first score of Super Bowl LI, putting the Falcons up 7-0.
After another punt by the Patriots, Matt Ryan connected on his first touchdown pass of the day to Austin Hooper, increasing the scoring margin to 14 points.
After three third down holding calls bailed the Patriots out, a poor throw by Tom Brady resulted in a pick six by Madden superstar Robert Alford, bringing New England’s deficit to a whopping 21 points. A sustained drive before halftime yielded a field goal for the Patriots, but the fact that Atlanta was set to receive the ball after halftime didn’t bode well for Bill Belichick and company.
New England forced a quick three-and-out to start the second half and then a big punt return by Julian Edelman set them up in great field position. Unfortunately for them, two drops by Chris Hogan and Julian Edelman, respectively, killed the drive and led to yet another punt.
Another drive for Atlanta, another touchdown. Rinse, repeat. 28-3.
The Patriots finally answered with their first touchdown of the day. Predictably, Stephen Gostkowski missed the following point attempt. Of course.
After failing to recover an onside kick, New England forced an Atlanta punt and seemed poised to score another quick touchdown. Questionable playcalling and terrible execution led to a ton of time running off of the clock and only three more points for the Patriots.
The interesting thing, though, is that great quarterbacks and great coaches find a way. Some way, some how, they find a way. New England proceeded to drive down the field and score another touchdown and, on a very creative playcall, convert the following two point attempt. The score was 28-20. A one-score game.
After pinning the Falcons deep on the ensuing kickoff, Devonta Freeman was left wide open on the left side and took it upon himself to advance the ball all the way to midfield. An INSANE catch by Julio Jones set Atlanta up in field goal range, but a sack and a holding penalty moved them backwards, setting up a punt and a chance for the Patriots to complete the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history.
Facing a 3rd and 10 deep within his own territory, Brady converted.
Then came the most absurd play I have maybe ever seen.
(I regret that already. I am sorry.)
A James White touchdown run set up the tying conversion. With just under a minute remaining and two timeouts, it was do-or-die time for New England. And what do you think happened?
Starting deep in his own territory, it was time for the reigning MVP of the National Football League to attempt a game-winning drive.
After two plays, 18 seconds remained on the game clock with the ball on Atlanta’s 27-yard line. An incomplete pass deep down the sideline set up the first overtime Super Bowl in NFL history.
More football? I wasn’t complaining.
The Patriots, after winning the coin toss, immediately chunk yardaged their way past midfield and into field goal range. After a pass interference call put New England on the 2-yard line, Vic Beasley made an unbelievable play to defend a fade to Martellus Bennett.
On the following play, James White scored on a pitch to win the Super Bowl for the New England Patriots, earning Brady and Belichick their fifth ring.
In the most unbelievable fashion humanly possible, the Patriots won the Super Bowl. It took the NFL’s first overtime title game and it took overcoming a 25-point deficit, but they did it.
You know what that means.
The Seattle Seahawks are the only team that beat Tom Brady this season.
And isn’t that all that matters?