By Danny Dunn
Quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons, Matt Ryan, may have won the MVP of the regular season, but quarterback of the New England Patriots, Tom Brady, was the MVP of Super Bowl LI.
This is Brady’s fourth time winning the Super Bowl MVP and his seventh time making it to the Super Bowl. .
The Patriots were able to come back from a 28-3 deficit at halftime, scoring 31 unanswered points for a final score of 34-28, giving the Patriots their fifth NFL championship.
The game started out sluggish with both team’s first couple of possessions resulting in punts. The first quarter coming to an end with no scores either way.
The Patriots began the second quarter with what looked liked a promising drive, fumbled away by running back Legarrette Blount. The Falcons recovered the ball on their own 29 yard line. Matt Ryan then lead Atlanta down the field, assisted by wide receiver Julio Jones catching two passes for 42 yards, getting the Falcons to the New England 29 yard line. Running back Devonta Freeman took it from there, carrying the ball three times for 29 yards and on the 3rd carry, punched it into the endzone for the first score of the game.
A bad punt by Patriots punter Ryan Allen set Atlanta up with great field position at their own 38 yard line. Ryan had a couple of deep completions one to receiver Taylor Gabriel and the other to Julio Jones that brought Atlanta to the Patriots 20 yard line. A couple plays later Ryan hooked up with tight end Austin Hooper for a 19 yard touchdown pass, as the Falcons took a 14-0 lead.
The ensuing Patriots drive looked promising with the Patriots marching the ball all the way to the Atlanta 23 yard line only to again have the drive killed by a turnover. Brady tried hitting receiver Danny Amendola, but cornerback Robert Alford intercepted the pass and took it all the way to the end zone for an 82 yard pick 6.
So now the Patriots found themselves in a huge hole down three touchdowns with 2 minutes left in the half. With time running out, the Patriots had to settle for a 41 yard field goal from kicker Stephen Gostkowski putting the Patriots on the board going into the half.
After a punt from each team to start the second half, Atlanta had an 8 play 85 yard drive capped off by a Tevin Coleman 6 yard touchdown run, bringing the score to 28-3 Falcons. But the Patriots did not go away.
The Patriots came back with their own 75 yard touchdown drive (missed extra point). The 3rd quarter came to an end with the Falcons on top 28-9.
The fourth quarter began with a Falcons punt, after they failed to take advantage of great field position from the Patriots muffed onside kick attempt. The Patriots got the ball on their own 13 yard line. Brady hit rookie receiver Malcolm Mitchell several times on the drive to help move the Patriots down the field. The drive stalled in the Atlanta red zone, and the Patriots had to settle for a field goal making the score 28-12 Falcons.
On the next Falcons drive Matt Ryan was strip sacked by Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower, and recovered by Patriots defensive end Alan Branch giving the Patriots the ball at the Atlanta 36 yard line.
The Patriots went on to score a touchdown and a much needed two-point conversion, both courtesy of receiver Danny Amendola, making it just a one score game.
The Falcons managed to kill a bit more time on their next possession, and even appeared to have the game in hand when receiver Julio Jones caught a 27 yard pass from Ryan at the New England 22 yard line. But then a Matt Ryan sack, and a holding penalty on the Falcons pushed them all the way back to the New England 45, and out of field goal range, forcing them to punt.
The Patriots began the drive at their own 9 yard line with 3 minutes and 38 seconds left in the game. Brady managed to hit 5 different receivers on the drive including Chris Hogan, Mitchell, Edleman, Amendola, and finally James White. White then ran the ball in from the 1 yard line on second and goal. Needing a 2 point conversion to tie the game, Brady found Amendola once again to successfully complete the 2 point conversion, tying the game at 28 a piece with 57 seconds left on the clock.
Atlanta was unable to get anything going on their drive, forcing the teams to take the game to overtime, for the first time in Super Bowl history.
The Patriots won the coin toss and elected to receive the football, knowing that a touchdown ends the game in overtime. The Patriots started at their own 25 yard line, and again Brady hooked up with multiple receivers, to help drive the Patriots down the field with a chance to win the game. A defensive pass interference against Falcons linebacker De’Vondre Campbell on Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett all but sealed the game, with the result of the penalty giving the Patriots the ball at the Falcons 2 yard line. James White then ran the ball in, just past the goal line and enough to give the Patriots a touchdown and a victory.
This Super Bowl win gives the Patriots their fifth Super Bowl win. This also gives Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and Tom Brady their fifth Super Bowl wins. Brady finished with 466 passing yards, the most in Super Bowl history, along with a pair of touchdown passes, and was awarded MVP of Super Bowl LI.
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