Fifteen years and two days later, Tom Brady would find himself in his seventh Super Bowl with the Patriots, having won three more since that fateful night in 2002. The 39-year-old now trailed the Atlanta Falcons 28-3 midway through the third quarter of Super Bowl LI in Houston, Texas. No team has ever comeback from a deficit greater than 10 points.
Brady, would once again embrace the role of underdog, leading the Patriots to 31 unanswered points in a 34-28 overtime victory in the greatest comeback and first ever overtime game in Super Bowl history.
Early in the game, Brady looked as old and fragile as his age might suggest. The Falcons defense seemed to overwhelm the Patriots with their speed, sacking Brady five times and executing eight hits on the quarterback.
The Falcons offense continued to have a speed advantage, being able to spread out the Patriots defense as they attempted to double team wide receiver Julio Jones. Running back Devontae Freeman would take his first eight carries for 85 yards including the game’s first score early in the second quarter a five-yard touchdown run.
After a Patriots three and out, the Falcons were quick to add more to their total. Quarterback Matt Ryan, who was 17 for 23 for 284 yards and 2 touchdowns, found tight end Austin Hooper for a 19- yard score to make it 19-0.
Brady, didn’t do himself any favors on the next drive. After driving the Patriots down into Atlanta territory, Brady would throw and ill-advised pass that was intercepted by Robert Alford and taken to the end zone for an 82-yard return touchdown.
Suddenly, the Patriots were down 21-0 with 2:21 remaining in the first half. Brady, once again managed to get the offense down the field. However, after penalties red zone, the Patriots would settle for a field goal to bring the half to a close with the Falcons leading the Patriots 21-3.
To start the second half, the two teams would trade three and outs. On their next drive is when the Falcons would take the seemingly insurmountable 28-3 lead on a 6-yard Ryan touchdown pass to running back Tevin Coleman.
The Patriots would finally respond with a 75-yard drive that ended with Brady hitting running back James White for a 5-yard score. But, after kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed the PAT attempt, and failed at an onside kick the Patriots were still down with 28-9 heading into the fourth quarter.
After forcing a Falcons punt the Patriots were once again able to get down field. Brady would connect with tight end Martellius Bennet for a 25-yard pass to make it 1st and goal from the ten. But, once again were forced to settle for a field goal making it 28-12 with 9:44 remaining in the game.
The Falcons offense that was dominant early on started struggling. Ryan, would be strip sacked by Dont’a Hightower on a third and one play from the Falcons 36. Alan Branch would fall on the loose ball at the 25-yard line.
In just five plays Brady would find Danny Amendola for a 6-yard score. The Patriots would need to go for a two-point conversion to make it one score game with 5:56 left in the game. White, would squeak into the end zone on a direct snap, making it 28-20.
Ryan looked as though he was going to seal the game on the Falcons next drive. Freeman would become wide open on a blown coverage and would take a pass 39 yard to mid-field. Jones would then make a highlight reel catch on the sideline to get to the 22-yardline.
All the Falcons had to do was run down the clock that read 3:56 and kick a field goal to ensure their first Super Bowl victory. But something funny happened, that Falcons rushing attack that was effective early in the game disappeared. A Trey Flowers sack and a penalty would knock the Falcons all the way back to the 45 and would be forced to punt.
Starting at their own nine yard line the Patriots had a chance to complete the comeback and tie the game at 28. This is where Brady shines the most ball in his hands, game on the line. On third and ten he would find Chris Hogan for 16 yards. He would then hit Malcom Mitchell for 11 yards. On the next play Brady, would throw a pass down the middle to longtime target Julian Edelman. A diving Edelman bobbled the pass and corralled it in. The play would go to the replay booth as everyone in the world thought for sure it hit the ground, but replayed showed that he was able to snatch it out of the air right before it could touch the ground. It was a play that will go down as one of the most miraculous catches in Super Bowl history.
The Patriots still had work to do. Now at the Falcons 41 Brady would hit Amendola for 20 more yards. And then in succession White would catch two passes for and plunge into the end zone to make it 28-26. Brady would search out Amendola in the end zone on the two-point attempt. Tie game.
The Falcons would be forced to punt to end regulation, and the Super Bowl would go into overtime for the first time.
The Patriots would win the toss and Brady would once again have the ball in his hands with the game on the line. He would complete 6 straight passes to get down to the Atlanta 15. A pass interference call would give the Patriots first and goal from the 2. After a scary pass incompletion to Bennet in the end zone, White, who had a record setting night with 14 receptions and three touchdowns, would take a sweep to the outside and stretch his arms out across the goal line. Comeback complete, Patriots 34 Falcons 28.
For his efforts, Brady, who completed 43 passes on 62 attempts for 466 yards which were all records, was named the game’s MVP for the fourth time in his five Super Bowl victories.
On Monday head coach Belichick, who won his record fifth Super Bowl as head coach of the New England Patriots, spoke about Brady effort.
“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.”
In all 33 records were tied or broken in Super Bow LI, Brady owning nine of them. Just put for Brady, Belichick and the rest of the Patriots, the night was historic.