Superbowl 51 – New England v Atlanta in Houston
Brady leads incredible comeback
It was all over in Houston. Atlanta were dominant. They were winning on offense, they were winning on defense. Everything was going their way. two first half touchdowns, Matt Ryan throwing beautifully, Devonta Freeman with a touchdown and 71 first half yards yards running. Then the Falcons defensive dominance culminates as Robert Alford intercepts Tom Brady to get an interception return on the board and it was 21-3 at half time. To add to it Ryan hits Tevin Coleman for the first score of the second half and a 28-3 lead half way through the third quarter. On the other side Brady was struggling, New England had no running game. There was surely no way back, was there?
Even when Brady got on the board throwing a touchdown pass to James White, the kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed the extra point, a very rare occurrence in the NFL. New England were then held to a field goal on the next drive and only got that far due to three penalties along the way. 28-12 now with 9.44 left on the clock. Brady still nowhere near his best. New England would need two touchdowns and two two point conversions to level. The miracle even then looked a very long way away.
The shift then began. The Patriots got the stop forcing the punt. Brady marched them down field as if his poor showing in the rest of the game was nothing. They got the touchdown and the first two point conversion. 28-20. Game on. Then came the first of two huge turning points. Atlanta got into field goal range with just 5 minutes left. All they had to do was run it three times, take time off the clock, kick the field goal and it was done. But no, the young side make the bizarre decision to pass, Ryan gets sacked, now outside of range. Then another penalty costs the 10 more yards and they have to punt. Brady has three and a half minutes to go 91 yards.
After two first downs came more evidence the miracle just might happen. Brady threw a misdirected pass, as it looked like it had gone to ground it deflected up off an Atlanta defenders boot, allowing Julian Edelman, eyes on nothing but the ball, to use the microscopic amount of air the ball found from the deflection to make an extraordinary catch. Atlanta’s players looked at the big screen in bewilderment as the catch was confirmed. Brady composed himself to complete the drive, ending in a 1 yard run for a touchdown from James White. Still needing the two point conversion, Brady then hit Danny Amendola who just about got over, 28-28, the comeback complete.
The game drawn, moves to overtime, in itself historic as no Superbowl has ever been to overtime before. The Patriots win the toss and made no mistake. They march down the field one final time and from two yards James White goes in for the winning score. Brady get’s his fifth Superbowl ring, as does coach Bill Belichick. With 466 yards passing Brady clocks up another record. While many made magnificent contributions to the comeback, it was all on Brady, especially as the Patriots never really established any running game. Brilliant, amazing, no superlative can sum up a game of the like we may never see again. Yes Atlanta threw it away, but New England and especially Brady still had to do everything right in those final ten minutes that few would still have been able to managed. But like the champions they are, this New England side did just that.
Alternative Report (CBS Sport)