The New England Patriots dug themselves a 25-point hole, forced overtime with a touchdown and two-point conversion with less than a minute to play, then scored on the first possession of the extra period to beat the Atlanta Falcons, 34-28, in Super Bowl LI on Sunday night.
James White’s two-yard touchdown run in overtime ― the first in Super Bowl history ― gave the Patriots the comeback win ― the largest in Super Bowl history.
White finished the game with three touchdowns and a Super Bowl record 14 catches. The win marks the fifth Super Bowl victory for quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick.
The Patriots, who trailed 28-3 midway through the third quarter, tied the game at 28-28 with just 57 seconds left when White rushed for a one-yard touchdown, and Brady hit Danny Amendola for a two-point conversion. The Falcons failed to score, sending the game to overtime.
The Patriots, once the victims of a miracle Super Bowl catch from New York Giants wide receiver David Tyree, got a miracle of their own on the final drive of regulation, when wide receiver Julian Edelman completed what will go down as one of the greatest Super Bowl catches ever.
The Falcons jumped out to a commanding first half lead after turning two Patriots turnovers into touchdowns, storming out to a 21-0 lead. After New England running back LeGarrette Blount fumbled in the second quarter, the Falcons quickly drove to their first touchdown ― a five-yard run from running back Devonta Freeman.
The Falcons defense produced another quick stop, and Matt Ryan put Atlanta ahead by two scores just minutes later with a touchdown strike to tight end Austin Hooper.
The biggest play of the first half, though, came when Falcons defensive back Robert Alford picked off a pass from Patriots quarterback Brady and returned it 82 yards for a touchdown.
Ryan threw his second touchdown pass of the night midway through the third quarter, when he hit Tevin Coleman for a five-yard touchdown to push Atlanta’s lead to 28-3.
Then, the Patriots launched their comeback. Brady found White for New England’s first touchdown of the game, then Stephen Gostkowski ― who missed an extra point following the score ― kicked a field goal to cut Atlanta’s lead to 28-12. After New England’s defense forced and recovered a Ryan fumble, Brady hit receiver Amendola for a touchdown. A successful two-point conversion made it 28-20 with just under six minutes to play.
The Falcons had a chance to seal the game when they drove deep into New England territory on the ensuing drive. But a sack and a penalty pushed them out of field goal range, setting up Brady’s comeback drive ― and ultimately the Patriots’ overtime win.