The New England Patriots pulled off the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history with a stunning overtime victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday that saw Tom Brady cement his status as the game’s all-time greatest quarterback.
For Brady, the 34-28 win earned him Super Bowl MVP honors for an unprecedented fourth time, a quarterback-record fifth NFL title and also a bit of sweet revenge after serving a four-game ban to start the season for his role in the Deflategate saga.
“Thank you to all our fans. Everyone back in Boston, New England, we love you. You’ve been with us all year,” an emotional Brady said as he raised the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
“We’re bringing this sucker home.”
In overtime, the Patriots started with the ball and ended the game eight plays later when James White put the finishing touches a stunning rally when he rumbled into the end zone for his third touchdown of the night on a two-yard run.
The victory denied the Falcons a maiden NFL title and made Brady, at 39, the second oldest at his position to win the NFL’s biggest prize.
“We all brought each other back,” Brady said as a shower of confetti fell on the field inside NRG Stadium. “We never felt out of it. It was a tough battle.”
It was a performance for the ages for Brady as he set Super Bowl records for most completions (43) and most yards passing (466) in a Super Bowl.
“It’s all about these players. We’ve got great players,” said Belichick. “They’re tough and they compete.
“We thought they competed for 60 minutes but it took more tonight. Down 28-3 they never looked back.”
With 10 points being the previous biggest comeback to win a Super Bowl, the Falcons and their fans could be excused if they were getting ready to party after Tevin Coleman put Atlanta ahead 28-3 around the midway mark of the third quarter.
Proving no lead is safe with Brady at the controls, the New England quarterback would not go down without a fight, finding White for his first touchdown pass of the game late in the third quarter to cut the Falcons lead to 28-9.
Gostkowski nailed a 33-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to set up a nail-biting finish to regulation in which Brady threw a six-yard scoring pass to Danny Amendola and White ran in for a touchdown in the final minute.
Atlanta, who lost their only previous trip to the Super Bowl in 1999 and entered this game as a three-point underdog, blew open a scoreless game with three second quarter touchdowns.
Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan, who was named league MVP on Saturday, had the NFL’s top-ranked offense firing on all cylinders as Devonta Freeman and Austin Hooper each scored touchdowns before Robert Alford picked off a Brady pass and ran 82 yards to put the Falcons ahead 21-0.
The Patriots finally got on the board with two seconds left in the half when they were forced to settle for a 41-yard Gostkowski field goal.
The Atlanta offense continued to hum along in the third quarter when Ryan connected with Tevin Coleman. But it would not be enough as New England hit back with 31 unanswered points.
“At halftime, we weren’t down (mentally) at all,” said Brady. “We were disappointed in the way we played and knew that we could go out and do a lot better in the second half.”