By Bo Pierce
What an incredible game, who would’ve thought that Super Bowl 51 would be the first Super Bowl to go into overtime? If you would’ve said that the score at the half was 21-3, I doubt anyone would have guessed that the Patriots would’ve been shut down to only a field goal. This Super Bowl wasn’t just the first Super Bowl to go into overtime, it’s also the first Super Bowl were a team has come back from a 25 point deficit. Now let’s take a look at the biggest game of the 2016 season.
Yet once again it’s another Super Bowl where no one scored in the first quarter, but there are still some great plays that went down. On an early 3rd and 1, Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount was shut down on the line of scrimmage setting up the Falcons with the ball with 13:47 left in the 1st Quarter. On the Falcons first play, Falcons running back Devonta Freeman ran for a huge 37 yard pick-up. Later on a 3rd and 5, Matt Ryan was sacked by Trey Flowers; ending the Falcons drive. A few drives later, Patriots had the ball going into the 2nd Quarter when a turnover gave the Falcons a chance to take the lead.
At the beginning of the 2nd Quarter, the Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount had the football ripped away from him by Dion Jones. After two Matt Ryan passes into the Patriots territory, Devonta Freeman ran 9 yards to the Patriots 5 and then he ran 5 yards for the first touchdown of the game. Patriots couldn’t manage to get a first and punted the ball back to the Falcons, and Atlanta was determined to establish a definite lead. Matt Ryan got his team to the Patriots 20 and on a 3rd and 9, Matt Ryan found Austin Hooper for a 19 yard touchdown. Atlanta lead 14-0, but New England wasn’t prepared to be taken down by Atlanta’s dominate offense. The Patriots were lucky enough for the Falcons to have committed defensive holding on each of the Patriots 3rd down conversions. On the Atlanta 23, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady threw a pass to wide receiver Danny Amendola but the pass was intercepted by Robert Alford and he took it 82 yards for a pick-six. That was Brady’s first pick six in the postseason and the score was 21-0, the game seemed over sooner than it was. Patriots received the ball with 2:21 left in the first half, and New England needed something to get them in this game. After driving back into Falcon territory, New England was stopped and had to kick a field goal. Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski nailed a 41 yard field goal to end the half 21-3, and as history has it, no one has made a comeback in the Super Bowl trailing by 19 or more points.
The 3rd Quarter kicked off with both teams producing a 3-and-out. On Atlanta’s second drive of the 3rd Quarter on a 2nd and 5, Matt Ryan threw a deep pass to wide receiver Taylor Gabriel for 35 yards to put them into Patriots territory. Later on the drive, Atlanta failed on the 3rd down conversion but a pass interference call kept the drive alive. They went on to score a 6 yard touchdown with the help of Tevin Coleman. With the score being 28-3, most people would’ve left the game saying the Falcons are Super Bowl Champs; but those people would’ve been wrong. Brady and Co. drove down the field and scored a 5 yard touchdown pass to James White, but Gostkowski missed the extra point. The 3rd Quarter ended with the Falcons having to punt the ball off to the Patriots, but the play clock ran out so the punt would begin the 4th Quarter.
The 4th Quarter saw the Patriots drive down the field with no time to spare, but after a deep pass to Martellus Bennett for 25 yards, Brady was sacked for a loss of 5. After a short pass, Brady was sacked for another loss of 5. They settled for a Gostkowski field goal of 33 yards, and that made the score 28-12. New England had to score two touchdowns and two two-point conversions to tie the game with 9:44 left in the 4th. After two run plays for 9 yards, Atlanta faced a 3rd and 1, and instead of a run up the middle the Falcons went for a pass in which Matt Ryan was sacked for a loss of 11. While Matt Ryan was sacked by Dont’a Hightower, Matt Ryan fumbled and the ball was recovered by Alan Branch to give the Patriots a chance. On the very next play, Tom Brady was sacked for a 5 yard loss but he still managed to get New England into the Falcons 10 yard line where they scored on a 6 yard pass to Danny Amendola. They then went for two to make it an 8 point game, on the conversion James White ran up the middle for the two. With 5:56 left, all Atlanta had to do was run out the clock and they would win 28-20. Matt Ryan had two deep passes, one to Devonta Freeman for 39 and one to Julio Jones for 27. The Falcons were on the Patriots 22 and were in Matt Bryant’s field goal range, but Matt Ryan suffered a sack for 12 yards and a crucial penalty that put them back at the Patriots 45. After an incomplete pass, the Falcons had to punt; giving Tom Brady 3:30 to score the game tying touchdown. With 3:17 left, the Patriots were faced with a 3rd and 10. On the 3rd down, Brady completed a short pass to Chris Hogan for 12 yards and the first down. On a 1st and 10 on the Patriots 36, Tom Brady threw a deep pass to Julian Edelman which was tipped and then caught by Edelman in-between three Atlanta defenders. The play was of course challenged, and after further review the ruling was a completed catch. On the next play, Brady hit Amendola for a pick up of 20 yards then threw two passes to James White for 20 yards. On the Atlantas 1 yard line, James White ran it in for a touchdown; but they still needed the two point conversion to tie the game up. On the attempt, Tom Brady came up clutch and threw the game tying pass to receiver Danny Amendola. The score was 28-28, but the Falcons had a little less than a minute to win the game. With 57 seconds, Atlanta couldn’t pull out a game winning drive and the game was sent to overtime; this was the first time a Super Bowl went into overtime.
On the coin toss, Patriots called heads and won the toss to receive the ball first. On that drive, Brady converted on three 2nd downs with passes to Danny Amendola and to Julian Edelman. On the third 2nd down, James White ran the ball in for a 2 yard touchdown to win the game for New England. The game ended 34-28, Tom Brady won his 4th Super Bowl MVP, and his 5th Super Bowl ring in the Brady/Belichick era.
With the final game of the 2016-2017 season over, we have to wait about 6-7 months for the 2017-2018 season to begin. Many teams are hoping to return to the playoffs, others are hoping to make it for the first time in a while. Which teams will make their way to Super Bowl 52, and which players will come up clutch and help their teams come close to a Lombardi Trophy? We will just have to wait for the 2017-2018 season to appear to find out who will be the Super Bowl 52 Champs.