Sunday's NFL Championship tilt between the Falcons and Patriots had all the makings of a stinker, as Atlanta's seemingly insurmountable lead and a potent Falcons pass rush had many watching commercials, not football. But a comeback of epic proportions saw the Patriots overcome a 25-point deficit to earn a34-28 victory in Super Bowl LI.
New England, following one of the most improbable comebacks in sports championship history,wasted no time in overtime, marching down the field to the 2 yard line where James White reached into the end zone, clinching Tom Brady's fifth Super Bowl title.
It was the second walk-off Super Bowl title in history (the Pats also had the first).
The spectacle that is the Super Bowl had entertainment value on and off the field — beginning with a valiant comeback effort from Tom Brady and New England, closing a 28-9 gap with a field goal early in the fourth quarter paired a forced fumble deep in Atlanta territory by Dont'a Hightower. Danny Amendola secured a touchdown catch at the 5:56 mark and a direct snap to James White cut it to a one-possession game.
Some questionable play-calling may have cost the Falcons an insurance field goal as New England got the ball back after some Atlanta movement with 3:30 to play. An incredible tipped pass fell securely into Julian Edelman's hands to keep the Pats' drive going, and a few plays later James White leaped into the end zone to cut it to two points. The two point conversion tied it. New England scored 25 unanswered points over the last 16 minutes of regulation.
Brady went43-for-62, for466 YDS and two touchdowns. His five Super Bowls are the most of any player in NFL history.
Falcons defense over, then underachieves
Watching the first 15 minutes, it would have not have occurredto a casual football fan that the Patriots and Falcons had two of the NFL's top five offenses in 2016 — with Atlanta's one of the most prolific in history.
But a swap of punts, twiceon each side, set the tone for an unexpected defensive battle.Things got even more shocking when Deion Jones forced a fumble on a LeGarrette Blunt rush, stopping New England's third drive flat near midfleld. Devonta Freeman did the rest, finding his way into the end zone to put Atlanta on top 7-0.
Another three-and-outstop in the second catapulted the Falcons down the field yet again as Matt Ryan found Austin Hooper to boost it to a two-score game.
Robert Alford sent another shockwave to New England, when he returned an interception 82 yards for a pick-six and a three score lead.
In the second half it was a completely different story, as the defense allowed Brady to throw for the most yards for any quarterback in Super Bowl history.Most of these came in the second half to set up the first overtime in Super Bowl history.
A silent protest
Off the field, a protest of subtle and entertaining sorts took place between the halves. After a short rendition of the top end of Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land," Lady Gaga went through hit after hit, highlighted by "Born This Way." Without making any kind of political speech, the entertainer made a political speech. Well, she did say,"we're here to make you feel good."
Feeling good, for four hours (unless you're a Patriots fan) is the prescription Americans called for — and despite it's one-sidedness, Super Bowl LI delivered.
With strife, political discord and protests running rampant since the election of Donald Trump, the world's biggest sporting event was not immune to the seepage of politics into every facet of American life.
Commercials (which cost upwards of $5.5 million this year for a 30 second spot) showed off America's diversity between the action, too.From the multilingual CocaCola ad singing "America the Beautiful," to Google Home showing how home is not traditional,AirBnB for reminding us that we all belong regardless of our differencesand the 84Lumber leavingaudiences hanging to watch the end which could be viewed on their website of a mother and daughter ending up after a long journey facing a wall."Equal pay for equal work"was even the tagline for a car commercial.