Love him or hate him as a person, you can’t deny that Tom Brady is one of the greatest to ever play the game of football. Super Bowl LI was Brady’s seventh, as he had previously won four of the six he played in. No quarterback had ever won five Super Bowls, so with a victory over the Atlanta Falcons, he had the chance to silence the doubters.
The game started off defensively with the first four offensive possessions ending in punts, however it was Devonta Freeman who would find the end zone and put the Falcons up 7-0. Matt Ryan, the recently selected MVP, proved his excellence as he found rookie tight end Austin Hooper to give his team a two touchdown lead.
It was all Falcons the majority of the way, who found themselves up 28-3 and had statistically a 98.3 per cent chance of winning their first Super Bowl in franchise history. That was when Brady did what Brady does best as he took over the game with about eight minutes left in the third quarter. Brady led a six minute drive that ended in a five yard touchdown pass to running back James White, cutting the lead to 28-9 (Patriots missed the extra point). After the Patriots defence stepped up and shut down the league’s number one offense, Brady went back to work.
After another drive down the field, Stephen Gostkowski hit a 33 yard field goal to bring the Patriots within 16 points. As Ryan and the Falcons took over, Patriots’ linebacker Dont’a Hightower made his biggest play of the season, making a strip sack that his team would recover on Atlanta’s 25 yard line. Brady made no mistakes, eventually finding wide receiver Danny Amendola for a six yard touchdown, followed by a crucial two point conversion to bring the game to a score of 28-20.
After another failed drive by the Falcons, it was time for one of the greatest catches of all time. With only two minutes left, Brady threw a pass to Julian Edelman who made an unbelievable diving catch after the ball bounced off a defenders foot. The ball was so close to touching the ground that Falcons’ head coach Dan Quinn threw the challenge flag, hoping that a video review would keep the Patriots at their own 36 yard line. The catch was confirmed and number 12 went back to work. White continued his strong game as he capped off the drive with a one yard rushing touchdown. With one minute remaining in the game and the Patriots down 28-26, their only chance to complete the comeback was to attempt a second two point conversion. Brady dropped back and found Amendola in the end zone and tied the game up.
The 51st Super Bowl would be the first one decided in overtime in NFL history. The NFL’s extremely disappointing sudden death overtime rules set up an important coin toss. The Patriots won the toss and elected to receive. The Falcons defence looked like they had lost all confidence and were tired. Brady drove down the field with ease, eventually finding White who dove towards the end zone and barely got the ball across the goal line before his knee hit the ground. The game was over, and number 12 got his record breaking fifth Super Bowl win.
After the game, Brady admitted he didn’t believe in his chances of making the historic comeback.
“Down 25 points, it’s hard to imagine us winning,” Brady said in his post game press conference. “It took a lot of great plays and that’s why you play to the end.”
All in all, he finished 43-62 for 466 yards, touchdowns and an interception on his way to his fourth Super Bowl MVP. Ryan, the regular season MVP, was 17-23 for 284 yards and two touchdowns. White had the best game of his two year career finishing with 139 total yards and three touchdowns.
With Brady’s fifth Super Bowl win he has now pushed himself past Joe Montana and Peyton Manning as the greatest quarterback of all time. In 271 total games over his career, Brady has totalled 70,676 passing yards and 519 touchdowns. Although Manning finished with more yards and more touchdowns than number 12, he was only ever able to win two Super Bowl rings. With Brady expected to play three to five more years, he will be well on his way to the most yards, touchdowns and Super Bowl rings of all time.