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Members of the New England Patriots celebrate on the field after winning Super Bowl 51.
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Quarterback Tom Brady was named the game's most valuable player, the fourth time he has won the award.
Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Patriots' wide receiver Julian Edelman (white jersey, silver helmet) made an incredible catch, somehow grabbing this football before it hit the ground.
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
A Super Bowl Classic
The New England Patriots defeat the Atlanta Falcons in the first ever Super Bowl to go to overtime.

By Matt Sheehy

The 51st Super Bowl had something the first 50 didn’t: a tie score after 60 minutes of play. The New England Patriots needed overtime to defeat the Atlanta Falcons in a thrilling comeback victory, 34-28. It is New England’s fifth Super Bowl championship.

The game was played at NRG stadium in Houston, Texas. And for most of it, the Falcons were in control. Leading 28-3 at one point, Atlanta looked like it was on its way to the team’s first-ever Super Bowl victory. But led by quarterback Tom Brady, New England stormed back to tie the game with only a minute left. The game then went to overtime for the first time in Super Bowl history.

New England won the overtime coin toss and got the ball first in the extra period. They moved down the field quickly. From the two-yard line, Brady handed the ball to running back James White. White put his head down and pushed his way into the end zone for the winning touchdown. His teammates immediately started celebrating one of the greatest comebacks in sports history.


No team in history had ever won a Super Bowl after trailing by 10 points. New England came back from 25 points down, setting a Super Bowl record.

Brady, 39, was named the Super Bowl’s most valuable player, the fourth time he has won the award. That is a new National Football League record. He threw the ball 62 times, completing 43 passes for 466 yards; the number of passes thrown and the yardage gained are both Super Bowl records. But more important, he stayed calm even as Atlanta opened up a large lead. New England was losing 21-3 at halftime, but Brady did not panic.

“At halftime, I would say we weren’t down at all,” Brady said. “We were disappointed in the way we played, and we knew that we could go out and do a lot better in the second half.”


As good as Brady was, the most memorable play of the game belonged to his teammate, wide receiver Julian Edelman. Late in the fourth quarter, Brady threw a pass that was tipped up into the air by an Atlanta defender. As the ball fell to the ground, Edelman dove for it—and so did three Falcons. The ball seemed to bounce off a tangle of legs and hands, but Edelman cradled it at the last moment, when it was barely an inch off the ground.

As Edelman stood up with the ball, even his quarterback was impressed. “It was one of the greatest catches I’ve ever seen,” Brady said.

Four plays later, the Patriots would tie the game and force overtime.

For Atlanta’s players and fans, it was a heartbreaking end to the season. They had the league’s best offense during the regular season, led by quarterback Matt Ryan. Ryan had won the league’s regular-season MVP award, and he played very well for most of the Super Bowl. But after a season to remember, his team came up just short in a game that few will forget.

Talking about his team’s incredible comeback, New England wide receiver Chris Hogan said, “This is a story they’re going to be talking about for history.”