Just when I was writing the New England Patriots’ Super Bowl obituary, Tom Brady changed clothes in a telephone booth and turned into Superman.
Brady had seen the Atlanta Falcons mount 21-0 and 28-3 leads over the favored Patriots in Super Bowl LI. Brady had been battered, but he proved to all he is never out of it. Brady put his team on his back, rallying his team to send the game to the first overtime in Super Bowl history at 28-28.
Brady was intercepted twice in the first half alone. He watched his passes sail through the hands of his targeted receivers much of the night. He was buried under three sacks. Brady and the Pats had a halftime deficit of 21-3. No Super Bowl team had climbed out of such a deep hole.
The Patriots tried to make up ground. With only 2:06 left in the third quarter, the favored Patriots scored their first touchdown, only to botch the point after kick. It was 28-9, Atlanta.
The Army’s 101st Screaming Eagles could not make up that much ground. But Pats Coach Bill Billichick and Brady did.
Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan was the NFL’s Most Valuable Player, but Brady reminded everyone that he is still the Man.
The 34-28 overtime win gave Brady his fourth Super Bowl MVP honor and his fifth Super Bowl game. Belichick increased his Super Bowl record to 5-2.
Leading up to the game, would be historians were calling Belichick the best football coach in the game. There is no doubt in my mind he passed the late Vince Lombardi Sunday night.
It wasn’t easy. Despite pitting the NFL’s best defensive team (Patriots) against the NFL’s best offensive team (Falcons) the game was close to turning into one of the many Super Bowl stinkers.
Only the miraculous Patriots’ rally prevented the Falcons from winning their first Super Bowl.
A circus catch by Atlanta star Julio Jones resulted in a 27-yard gainer, making the Patriots’ chances of winning more difficult. However a sack and a holding penalty took the Falcons out of field goal range.
Brady and Co. had 3:30 and 89 yards to produce a touchdown and 2-point conversion to tie the game. He hit Chris Hogan for 16 yards and a first down. Hope was still alive.
Brady was still on the Patriots side of the field until Julian Edleman made an unbelievable catch in traffic. Brady was in rhythm and his next throw gave the Patriots another first down, putting the ball on Atlanta’s 21-yard line with 1:57 remaining. The next possession took the ball at the eight, where it was first and goal. James White made a two yard run for the touchdown.
Do you believe in miracles?
The Pats needed a two-point conversion. Brady came to the Pats’ rescue.
Another Brady completion tied the game at 28-all.
The Patriots had manufactured a 25-0 run in the second half. It forced the first overtime game in Super Bowl history. In overtime, the Pats’ called heads and took first possession.
Brady engineered another touchdown drive, with James White inching his way across the goal line to complete the most thrilling Super Bowl in history.
The Patriots family was ecstatic.
Owner Robert Kraft said the victory was unquestionably the sweetest.
Belichick was asked how his players could pull it off against heavy odds.
“We got tough players. They compete for 60 minutes or longer,’’ Belichick explained.
As Brady held the Lombardi Trophy above his head and faced the team’s fans, he was obviously the happiest person in Texas.
“We’re taking this sucker home,’’ Brady said.
Oh, what a rush it was.
Joe Biddle is a WKRN.com sports columnist. He is also a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.