The New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI felt early on that the Patriots defense was hanging on by a very thin edge. A scoreless first quarter simply set the stage for some second quarter fireworks.
The Falcons had two quick strikes before the half, both lasting just five plays and taking less than two minutes off the clock. The first drive went for 71 yards and was capped by a Devonta Freeman five yard run to put the Falcons up 7-0. Freeman’s jump cut outside on that touchdown run was quite impressive and one we all will be seeing on Super Bowl 51 highlight reels.
The next drive was the Julio Jones show as Matt Ryan connected with his top wide receiver twice for huge chunks of yards, setting up a 19 yard touchdown strike to Austin Hooper for the 14-0 lead over the vaunted Patriots.
Ryan finished the first half 7/8 for 115 yards and that touchdown pass.
He wouldn’t see the field much after that last touchdown pass as the Tom Brady and the Patriots would put together two long drives to close out the first half.
Much to the glee of Patriots haters everywhere, the first of those two drives ended like this:
That made it a 21-0 deficit for the Patriots with just over two minutes left in the first half. And also negated a slew of poor drive-extending penalties against the Falcons.
Brady’s next drive proved a little more fruitful as Brady drove his team down the field for some points to close out the half, cutting the Falcons lead to 21-3. Brady finished the first half 16/26 for a paltry 184 yards and that pick six.
The second half started out with both teams trading punts, but the Falcons offense simply wasn’t ready to go cold for very long. Ryan would lead the team on an eight play, 85 yard drive, capping it with a six yard touchdown pass to Tevin Coleman to put the Falcons up 28-3.
Some Patriots plays left their jock straps on the field during this drive too.
Brady and the Patriots finally got their heads out of their asses with a solid drive in response to the Falcons touchdown with a touchdown of their own. Brady connected with James White for a five yard touchdown to close to gap to 28-9, but they missed the extra point attempt.
An onside kick on the ensuing kickoff failed for the Patriots and their special teams players got very salty with some pushing and shoving afterwards.
The Patriots defense came out and stopped the Falcons anyway and Brady got things going on the next drive. There came a point when it felt like the Patriots were on the cusp of mounting a serious comeback attempt, but then the Falcons defense rose up to force another field goal to keep the lead comfortable at 28-12.
Then the Falcons finally made a mistake with just over eight minutes left in the fourth quarter. Freeman completely whiffed on a chip block, setting up a sack/strip for the Patriots that put them right into scoring position.
And the Patriots capitalized with a touchdown and a two-point conversion of their own to close the gap to 28-20 with just under six minutes left in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LI.
Freeman made up with his missed block with a 39-yard catch and run to open up the Falcons next drive. And then Julio Jones made one of the greatest catches in Super Bowl history that effectively iced this game, keeping the clock running and the Patriots chances dwindling.
Then Ryan took a terrible 11 yard sack to knock the Falcons out of field goal range, and a holding penalty put them completely out of field goal range. On third and 33, Ryan would overthrow an open receiver to force a punt with three and a half minutes lefts.
From their own nine yard line, Brady had a chance to cement his legacy in NFL history. A third down and ten conversion to Chris Hogan kept the drive alive early, and another ten yard pass moved the sticks again on the next series.
Then Julian Edelman made the most incredible catch in NFL history to get the Patriots out to midfield. The two minute warning came with another Brady completion to get the Patriots down to the 20 yard line of the Falcons.
The choke job continued the rest of the way as the Patriots would score a touchdown with 57 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Danny Amendola tied it up with a catch and run for the two.
The game went into overtime for the first time in Super Bowl history.
With all of the momentum shifted completely to the Patriots, it felt like the outcome overtime was already decided.
Brady and the Patriots marched right down the field for the touchdown and their fifth Super Bowl title, winning 34-28 in the great comeback in Super Bowl history.