On Sunday, Feb. 5, the New England Patriots defeated the Atlanta Falcons to take home the title of Super Bowl LI with a final score of 34-28. This victory marked the Patriots’ fifth Super Bowl win as a franchise, winning titles in 2002, 2004, 2005, 2015 and now 2017. Tom Brady is the quarterback who has led the Patriots to all of these victories. He has now been awarded Super Bowl MVP a record four times, the most of any quarterback.
Early on in Super Bowl LI, chances were not looking too good for the Pats. After a scoreless first quarter, the Falcons scored three touchdowns to jump ahead of the Patriots, 21-0. The first score was made by Falcons’ Devonta Freeman in a five-yard run to the end zone. Less than four minutes later, the Falcons’ quarterback, Matt Ryan, connected to Austin Hooper with a 19-yard touchdown pass. The third and most exciting touchdown came when Falcons cornerback Robert Alford intercepted Brady and ran 82 yards for another six points. It was a Patriots team we had never seen before. The Falcons played with ferocious momentum, and the Patriots were unable to defend themselves. With just two seconds left in the first half, the Patriots were able to net a field goal and avoid a first half shut-out. The Falcons went into halftime with a 21-3 lead.
If the Patriots wanted a fair shot at a comeback, most football viewers would have argued that the Pats needed to return for the second half with renewed energy and dominance. Several minutes into the second half, however, the Patriots were still looking flat. After another drive down the field led by Ryan, the Falcons scored yet another touchdown when Ryan connected to Tevin Coleman for a six-yard pass. The Falcons were now up 28-3, and it was looking nearly impossible for the Patriots to make a move. During the third quarter, the Patriots’ defense finally awoke and began stopping the Falcons on each possession. The Falcons would not score for the remainder of the game, and the Patriots were given their chance to make a comeback. Little by little, the Patriots began adding points to the board. They chipped away at the 25-point deficit one score at a time. At the end of the third quarter Brady threw a short pass to James White in the end zone for a touchdown. When kicker Stephen Gostkowski went for the extra point, however, the kicker missed—a lost point that the Patriots would surely miss as time ticked from the clock. At the end of the third quarter the Falcons maintained their lead with a score of 28-9.
In the fourth quarter of the game, the Patriots played with the kind of heart and passion that fans thrive on. The Patriots added another three points with a 33-yard field goal by Gostkowski. Another touchdown was scored with 5:56 left in the game as Brady completed a six-yard pass to Danny Amendola. Brady then converted two more points with a hand-off and run by White, making the score 28-20.
With just 57 seconds left in the game, the Patriots scored the final touchdown of regulation, now trailing the Falcons by only two points. The Patriots were forced to attempt a two-point conversion with the hopes of sending the game into overtime. In a play that would be reviewed by the referees to draw out the moments of suspense, White successfully broke the plane of the end zone to score the two-point conversion. The game would now go into overtime.
Super Bowl LI became the first-ever Super Bowl to ever go into overtime play. In this sudden death overtime, the first team to score a touchdown would be crowned the victor. In four minutes Brady was able to drive his Patriots down the field. With 11:02 on the clock, White carried the ball into the end zone to end the game and secure the Patriots’ win.
Brady threw for 466 yards and two touchdowns and threw just one interception. Ryan earned 284 yards, made two touchdown passes and threw two interceptions. White collected 110 yards receiving and finished with 14 receptions. Brady and the Patriots proved their resilience and fully earned the title of Super Bowl LI in one of the most hard-fought battles in football.