Even for a team which had conquered nearly every challenge and won every title in the NFL, it had never been done. On the last NFL Sunday of the season, this final climax had every twist and turn one could imagine, and culminated in the most fairytale-like ending as the New England Patriots beat the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI 34-28 in an overtime thriller.
Rarely has the legacy of the seemingly ageless quarterback Tom Brady been on such full display, as he and coach Bill Belichick’s brilliance willed their team past a 25-point deficit in the 3rd quarter to win the NFL’s first overtime Super Bowl in the game’s 51 year history. The Falcons and quarterback Matt Ryan looked at one point destined to win the franchise’s first Super Bowl, and erase the demons of their 1999 failure to secure the Lombardi trophy. After dominating the Patriots on their way to a 28-3 lead, the Falcons’ improving defense went impotent, and Ryan himself made a key mistake late in the 4th quarter.
With a chance to take a two- possession game and break New England’s hopes, Ryan instead took a key sack which knocked Atlanta out of field goal range. With 3:30 remaining in the fourth Brady marched the offense down field for six, converted an essential two-point conversion immediately after to close the gap and stealthegame’smomentum.
“For me, I wish I could have found a way to throw it away and not lose that yardage—that would have been important for us,” Ryan said.
It was, and after mounting their comeback the Patriots in turn dominated the Falcons, accruing 546 total yards, and holding the ball for over 40 minutes. It was an impressive moment and feat of perseverance by the NFL’s dominant dynasty.
Brady was simply legendary. He overcame a weak first half and early pick-six to go 43/62, amassing 466 passing yards and adding two touchdowns.
“It’s been like that every year, every day, every week, every practice. I don’t care if it’s in May, August or January—Tom Brady gives us his best every time he steps on the field” Belichick said after the game. “Tom has had a lot of great ones. Tonight was one of them.”
With the win, Tom Brady becomes the most prolific quarterback of the Super Bowl era, earning his fifth Super Bowl Championship. “It was just a great team performance,” Brady said after receiving his fourth Super Bowl MVP Award. “I’m so proud of this team. We faced a lot of adversity over the year and overcame with a lot of mental toughness.”
After missing the first four games of 2016, Brady came back and lost only one game the rest of the way,and threw an insanely-low 2 interceptions through the regular season. It was a victory that will silence the critics who have held Brady out of their G.O.A.T. lists and cement Brady and this Patriots team as the greatest in NFL history.
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