HOUSTON — Forget the redemption tour. Forget the revenge. Forget the vitriol against the NFL and its commissioner.
Tom Brady completed 43 of 62 passes for 466 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, and he was 12 of 16 for 150 yards on the tying and winning drives in the fourth quarter and overtime. The five-time champion led his 51st game-winning drive in the 51st Super Bowl.
From Boston Herald
James White scored on a 2-yard run in overtime to cap the greatest performance of his career. He had six carries for 29 yards and two touchdowns and a Super Bowl-record 14 receptions for 110 yards and a score.
The Patriots found a small spark when Brady hit White for a 5-yard touchdown that made it 29-8 with 2:06 remaining in the third quarter, but the comeback truly began with 8:24 to play in the fourth. Dont’a Hightower strip-sacked Matt Ryan, and Alan Branch recovered at the Falcons’ 25-yard line. Five plays later, Brady and Danny Amendola hooked up for a 6-yard touchdown, and James White scored a 2-point conversion on a direct snap to make it 28-20.
The Falcons then looked like they’d ice the game by marching to the Patriots’ 22-yard line in three plays, but Trey Flowers’ sack and Chris Long’s forced holding penalty pushed them out of field-goal range.
The Pats took over at their own 9-yard line with 3:30 to play, and Brady found a rhythm after the drive opened with back-to-back incompletions. He hit six of his next seven passes for 90 yards, and White scored a 1-yard touchdown to make it 28-26. Brady then hit Amendola for the 2-point conversion to force overtime for the first time in Super Bowl history.
Even though the teams played a scoreless first quarter, the Patriots were controlling the pace of play. Flowers and Jabaal Sheard each notched third-down sacks to cap the Falcons’ opening two series, and the offense was at least finding some room to operate.
The Patriots advanced to the Falcons’ 40-yard line with their second possession before a poorly designed play-action rollout put Brady in Courtney Upshaw’s crosshairs for a drive-killing 8-yard sack. And they got deeper with their third series when Brady delivered a 27-yard pass to Julian Edelman, who was tackled at the 33 to open the second quarter.
But LeGarrette Blount fumbled on the next play thanks to a vicious Deion Jones strip, and that led to a Falcons avalanche. It was the Patriots’ 30th fumble of the season, but just the 11th that they’ve lost, so they had tempted fate far too often. The Falcons then ripped off a five-play, 71-yard touchdown drive that concluded with Devonta Freeman’s easy 5-yard score to make it 7-0.
The Patriots went three-and-out for the second time on their ensuing series, and the Falcons flew 62 yards on five plays. Ryan uncorked a 19-yard touchdown pass to Austin Hooper, who warded off pass interference by Patrick Chung to extend the lead to 14-0. Over the two touchdown drives, the Falcons averaged 13.3 yards per play and gained at least 15 yards on six of their 10 snaps.
Meanwhile, the Falcons’ young defense tightened up. The Patriots gained three first downs on their following possession through defensive holding penalties, but they otherwise struggled to keep Brady out of the line of fire. And eventually, the 39-year-old made a Super Bowl-deciding mistake by forcing a ball into a covered Danny Amendola, and Robert Alford jumped the route and returned an interception for an 82-yard touchdown and 21-0 lead.
The Pats salvaged Stephen Gostkowski’s 41-yard field goal prior to halftime after Martellus Bennett’s holding penalty crushed their bid for more, as it wiped out James White’s 12-yard screen to the Falcons’ 3-yard line.
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