Falcons Fall Short In Super Bowl, Lose 34-28 In OT

HOUSTON — Tom Brady added another chapter to his storybook legend Sunday night, leading the New England Patriots to the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history, a 34-28 victory over the Atlanta Falcons, decided on James White’s 2-yard touchdown run after 3:52 of overtime.

It was the first overtime game in Super Bowl history, and the Patriots’ comeback from a 25-point deficit, 28-3, was more than double the largest previous comeback (10 points) in the game’s 51-year history.

Brady, who struggled early under a surprisingly strong Atlanta pass rush, completed 43 of 62 passes for a Super Bowl-record 466 yards. He threw two touchdown passes and one interception, which was returned for a second-quarter touchdown.

He captured a record fourth Super Bowl MVP honor, breaking a tie with Joe Montana. Brady and New England’s Bill Belichick became the first quarterback and head coach, respectively, to win five Super Bowls.

White caught a Super Bowl-record 14 passes (for 110 yards), and he added 29 yards and two touchdowns on six carries.

Brady, suspended for the first four games of the season for his involvement in Deflategate, wound up on top of the pro football world again. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, whose handling of the case against Brady sparked controversy, was loudly booed as he handed the Lombardi Trophy to Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

“Two years ago we won our fourth Super Bowl down in Arizona and I told our fans that was the sweetest one of all,” Kraft said. “But a lot has transpired over the last two years, and I don’t think that needs any explanation. I want to say to our fans, brilliant coaching staff and players who are so spectacular, this is unequivocally the sweetest. I’m proud to say for the fifth time, we are all Patriots.”

Goodell approached Brady on the field immediately after the game and initiated a handshake.

In overtime, the Patriots got the ball first and Brady completed five consecutive passes for 50 yards. A 10-yard run by White and a pass-interference penalty moved the ball to the 2-yard line before White’s winning run.

New England, still behind 28-9 when the fourth quarter began, started its late surge on a Stephen Gostkowski field goal with 9:44 remaining.

Shortly after the kickoff, Dont’a Hightower sacked Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, forcing a fumble that Alan Branch recovered at the Atlanta 25-yard line. Five plays later, Brady threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Danny Amendola. When White ran in a two-point conversion, the score was 28-20 with 5:56 remaining.

Atlanta got a chance to put the game away when it drove to the New England 22 after the kickoff, but the Falcons inexplicably had Ryan take a deep dropback to pass, and he was sacked. A holding penalty followed, knocking Atlanta out of range for a game-clinching field goal and forcing a punt.

The Patriots then drive 91 yards in 10 plays, the key play a circus catch by Julian Edelman, who was on the ground to grab a pass that had been tipped by Falcons cornerback Robert Alford. Edelman cradled the ball against a defender’s leg and gained 23 yards.

“That’s one of the greatest catches I’ve ever seen,” Brady said. “I don’t know how the hell he caught it.”

A 20-yarder to Amendola followed. White scored the touchdown on a 1-yard run with 57 seconds to go, and Brady then threw a two-point PAT to Amendola.

Until Brady’s late heroics, Atlanta had surprisingly controlled the game with its defense, which ultimately ran out of gas as it was on the field for most of the game. New England ran 93 plays on offense to Atlanta’s 46, and the Patriots had more than 40 minutes of possession time.

Brady was under early pressure from an Atlanta defense, which was ranked near the bottom of the NFL during the regular season but nonetheless easily handled the New England offensive line, and the veteran quarterback made several uncharacteristic poor passes.

One of them, thrown into double coverage, was returned 82 yards for a touchdown by Alford, Atlanta’s third TD of the second quarter.

Brady also badly overthrew a wide open Edelman later in the second quarter and underthrew another receiver before the Patriots finally scored on a 41-yard field goal by Gostkowski with two seconds remaining in the first half.

Atlanta’s three offensive touchdown drives were 71 yards in five plays, 62 yards in five plays and 85 yards in eight plays. Devonta Freeman scored the first TD on a 5-yard run, and Ryan completed touchdown passes of 19 yards to Austin Hooper and 6 yards to Tevin Coleman.

Ryan wound up 17 of 23 for 284 yards. Atlanta’s Julio Jones caught four passes for 87 yards.

NOTES: The Patriots failed to score a first-quarter point in any of their seven Super Bowls with the combination of coach Bill Belichick and QB Tom Brady. … Pro Bowl C Alex Mack was active and in the starting lineup for the Falcons. Mack did not practice this week because of a left fibula injury, reportedly a chip fracture, which could have limited a player considered vital to Atlanta’s zone-running scheme. … WR Michael Floyd was inactive for the Patriots, who listed the same players who did not play in the AFC Championship Game on their pregame inactive list: third QB Jacoby Brissett, DB Cyrus Jones, OL LaAdrian Waddle, RB D.J. Foster and DB Justin Coleman and S Jordan Richards … WR Nick Williams. RB Terron Ward, CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson, LB Josh Keyes, S Dashon Goldson, OL Wes Schwetzer and TE D.J. Tialavea were inactive for the Falcons.

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